Mike Munchak went just 22-26 in three season as head coach of the rebuilding Titans
. (John Biever/SI)
The Tennessee Titans became the seventh team to fire its head coach this season, ending Mike Munchak's regime on Saturday.
"The last week has been a difficult time trying to navigate through many issues to find the best resolution for this franchise moving forward," GM Ruston Webster said in a statement. "Tough choices were presented to all sides and the end result was to part ways and move forward without Mike."
The move comes almost a week after the NFL's Black Monday, which this year saw five head coaches fired. That delay puts Tennessee a little behind the 8-ball, as both Houston and Tampa Bay have hired new coaches. (The Texans fired Gary Kubiak in early December.)
• Tale of the Tape: Munchak was 7-9 this season and 22-26 overall (three seasons) with Tennessee.
• What Went Wrong: This situation dragged out as a bit of a roller-coaster ride, with USA Today's Jim Wyatt reporting Friday night that Titans president Tommy Smith had decided to retain Munchak for a fourth season, provided Munchak meet "certain conditions." Earlier, the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport had reported those requirements could include promoting assistant coach Gregg Williams to defensive coordinator -- a spot held in 2013 by Jerry Gray.
Whether Munchak declined to agree to Smith's requests or Smith simply changed his mind, the Titans opted to move in a different direction.
And it's hard not to feel that Munchak may have enjoyed a longer stay had Jake Locker been able to stay healthy and consistent this season. The Titans opened the year 3-1 prior to a Locker injury and were 4-3 overall with him at the helm; they were 3-6 in games started by Ryan Fitzpatrick.
A drought from Weeks 10 through 15 cost Tennessee a shot at the AFC South title or a wild-card spot. The Titans entered that stretch with a 4-4 mark after beating St. Louis, then proceeded to drop five of their next six to fall out of playoff contention.
• Roster Outlook: Locker's future remains up in the air -- he has one season plus a team-option year left on his current deal. But the bigger conundrum for 2014 might revolve around long-time running back Chris Johnson. He has $8 million coming to him next season, a restrictive number given his disappointing production over the past three seasons, not to mention the Titans' likely need to free up some cash.
Pending free agent Kenny Britt almost certainly has played his last game as a Titan. Has fellow WR Nate Washington overstayed his welcome, too? Washington, due $4.8 million for next season, could be released without any dead-money hit to the Titans' salary cap, so he might need to accept a pay cut to stick around.
The challenge on defense will be in keeping cornerback Alterraun Verner around. Verner has said he'd like to stay in Tennessee, but he's on the verge of free agency off his best NFL season.
• Possible replacements: Mike Zimmer
, Jay Gruden, Darrell Bevell, Ray Horton