Titans fire coach Mike Munchak

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans fired coach Mike Munchak, the Hall of Fame offensive lineman who's been with the franchise for more than 30 years, on Saturday.

"This is a day I hoped would never come, but there is a reason for everything," Munchak said in a statement. "Words cannot express the sadness for leaving this organization that I have been a part of for over 30 years.

"My goal as head coach was to do things the right way with the right people and I felt confident that the results would follow. Sometimes rebuilding a team and its culture takes time, but I truly believe we were on the verge of great things. Unfortunately my vision did not match that of the organization, so we will part ways."

Munchak compiled a three-season mark of 22-26 and did not take the team to the playoffs, even after late owner Bud Adams signed off on free-agent contracts worth more than $100 million in the spring.

"First I want to thank Mike Munchak for his professionalism through this process and thank him for his years of dedication to the Titans/Oilers organization," general manager Ruston Webster said in a statement. "He is first-class and I wish him and his family nothing but the best.

"... The last week has been a difficult time trying to navigate through many issues to find the best resolution for this franchise moving forward. Tough choices were presented to all sides and the end result was to part ways and move forward without Mike. We will immediately begin a search for a new head coach."

Webster said he and Munchak slept on their Friday meeting in Houston with president and CEO Tommy Smith, then spoke by phone Saturday morning and decided Munchak could not go forward as coach.

Munchak has a 2-20 record against teams that have finished seasons with a winning record, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

He had no experience as a head coach or a coordinator when Adams hand-picked the Titans offensive line coach to replace Jeff Fisher when the team parted ways with its longtime head coach in 2011.

The 2013 Titans started 3-1, but ultimately got only seven starts from starting quarterback Jake Locker, who missed time with a sprained knee and hip before returning and suffering a season-ending foot injury.

Smith, who heads the family ownership group that took over when Adams died, will choose a new coach with advice from Webster, who got a strong public vote of confidence a few weeks ago.

"As I told [Munchak], we appreciate his efforts as head coach and I think he helped us progress as a team," Smith said in a release. "We will start the process of finding that person immediately and Ruston Webster will lead that search for us."

Webster said he has an initial list of candidates. He noted that he won't set a goal of hiring a defensive coach, an offensive coach or someone with head coaching experience because he thinks doing so could make him miss a good candidate.

He indicated at least one target is an assistant on a playoff team and allowed for the possibility of interviewing an in-house candidate. That would likely be senior assistant/defense Gregg Williams.

While Williams and defensive coordinator Jerry Gray have expiring contracts, the rest of the staff is believed to have one year remaining, like Munchak did.

Webster said he would speak to them on Monday about their fate and that if he received an inquiry from a team that wants to hire one of them, he'd take it on a case-by-case basis.

Munchak preached that his players and everyone in the organization should "be a pro" who knew their jobs and did their jobs.

But as a group it often came up short of expectations.

A revamped offensive line and the run game were supposed to provide the foundation of this season's team, but that identity never developed.

In each of his three seasons, the Titans lost to a division rival that finished with the worst record or tied for the worst record in the NFL.

In 2011, that was the Colts (0-13 coming into the game), in 2012 it was the Jaguars (1-9), and in 2013 it was the Texans, who moved to 2-0 with an overtime win over Tennessee, then lost 14 in a row, including the season finale in Nashville. The Titans lost at home to the Jaguars when they were 0-8 in 2013, as well.