NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Given an opportunity to indicate he plans on Mike Heimerdinger remaining the Titans offensive coordinator, new Titans coach Mike Munchak steered well clear.
"Obviously we’ve had a very good relationship, we’ve worked together for a long time and had success together,” Munchak said. “… I’ll now have the chance to talk more specifically about what my vision is with [all the assistants] and then decide what’s best.”
Pressed on whether he expects Heimerdinger to be back as coordinator, he said:
“Right now, anything is open. We’re starting fresh, it’s not the same old same old. I think we come in and figure out what’s the best for the Titans going forward with what we have here … Anything is possible.”
If he didn’t start talking to potential holdovers today, he will start conversations Tuesday with the 13 assistants who have one-year contracts and begin sorting things out. He can fire them and they’ll still be paid for 2011 by the Titans.
Titans executive vice president Steve Underwood said Munchak will have "broad discretion" over staff he will "be married to” but that things will have to fit parameters, including budgetary ones.
Hiring outsiders will be a tough go, and Munchak might miss on a lot of his top choices.
Coaches under contract with other teams cannot talk to the Titans unless they are asked for and receive permission. An old rule mandating a team be allowed to talk to a coach under contract if he would be offered a promotion no longer exists.
Tennessee GM Mike Reinfeldt said teams are still pretty good about allowing position coaches to interview for coordinator jobs, but that position coach-to-position coach moves are a “dicier proposition.”
(Bruce Matthews, Houston’s assistant offensive line coach, is off limits until or unless Houston grants permission for a division rival to talk to him. Do the Texans allow him to advance his career if he wants? Or do they take a tougher stance about helping a team they play twice?)
Munchak said over the last week he’s reviewed who’s available.
“There are always good coaches,” he said. “…I hope you’ll find out, in the next few weeks as we start filling those positions, you’ll say ‘Oh, geez, that guy’s pretty good,’ ‘I didn’t know he’s available,’ ‘Oh, that’s good.’ Or there will be some guys you don’t know, you’ll have to do your homework on them, and you’ll say ‘Yeah, this guy’s pretty solid.’
“I’m looking for guys that are good teachers … that can push guys that are going to need pushing in certain rooms.”
Munchak's network isn’t limited from having been with one team for so long. He’s seen and connected with good coaches through the years on scouting trips and the like. And of course his phone is already ringing regularly.
"It’s amazing how many people you know," he said with a grin.
More than once he talked of harmony.
In 2010, we've come to learn, Fisher’s staff was not a super-unified group. Defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil -- who was re-signed, then fired by Jeff Fisher -- raised the ire of some coworkers and players for what they saw as a lack of direction and response to input.
“We need harmony in this building, harmony with the coaching staff,” Munchak said. “You want the players to see what we’re doing. You want them to see on the sidelines how the coaches are acting, how we’re interacting, because that’s how they are acting. If I’m a head coach that’s screaming and yelling at people and losing my cool, they’ll lose their cool.”
He’s looking for a similar demeanor, it sounds like, in his staff. He's already got five openings. He might be about to create more.
It’ll be interesting to see who he retains, then who he recruits.