NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Of the three highest-ranking people in the Tennessee Titans' headquarters Tuesday, only one doesn’t have “interim” as part of his title.
Still, general manager Ruston Webster was not at the podium facing questions about the direction of the franchise as interim CEO and president Steve Underwood and interim coach Mike Mularkey spoke.
Underwood said Webster, who was in the room, was not at a microphone because Underwood didn’t ask him to be. At the same time, Underwood said Webster was with him to tell Ken Whisenhunt he was fired, and that his study of Webster’s track record as a personnel executive for ownership showed the GM's record to be solid.
Underwood also said his understanding was that Whisenhunt and Webster were on the same page regarding personnel decisions.
If they were so in sync and the coach needed to be fired, it seems odd that the other half of the collaboration, who's been on the job longer, got an endorsement.
In November, a coach is in the heart of his heavy work season; a GM is not. Roster tinkering is the primary thing we see from a GM right now. The impact on Sundays is already done with the spring and summer roster assembly.
If a change is to come, it didn't need to be now, when Webster is scouting the league and colleges to prepare for free agency and the 2016 draft.
Strunk may ultimately decide to make another change after the season. Underwood said everyone is under review. But he also said Webster is the GM, has Strunk’s “full support” and is expected to be part of the coaching search.
I think history shows it’s far healthier for a coach and GM to come in together. The first one hired has more power and a hand in the hiring of the second, but they technically walk across the threshold together.
If you’ve got a GM like Webster, in place since 2012 and with the organization since 2010, and a brand new coach, there are two different clocks ticking and they never sync up.
A lot has worked against Webster. He’s had two coaches forced on him by ownership. He drafted players for a 4-3 defense and then saw a switch to a 3-4. The two coaching staffs have failed to sufficiently develop some of his more questionable picks like quarterback Jake Locker, receiver Justin Hunter and running back Bishop Sankey.
His free-agency work before this year’s defensive haul has been bad with the exception of tight end Delanie Walker and safety Bernard Pollard.
Still, Underwood said of Webster: "We're pretty comfortable with his record overall,” while emphasizing Webster can collaborate with virtually anyone.
If he’s a power player in the organization, if he’s collaborating with the president and the coach in guiding the Titans forward, I think the team needed to show it by having him be a participant in the press conference, not an observer of it.