Tennessee Titans: Win Against Jaguars Too Little, Too Late for Mike Munchak

Daniel BarnesCorrespondent IIIDecember 23, 2013

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 22:  Mike Munchak, head coach of the Tennessee Titans, watches action during a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on December 22, 2013 in Jacksonville, Florida.  Tennessee won the game 20-16.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Titans picked up their first win of the season against a division rival on Sunday, as they beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-16. They face the Houston Texans, who have only won two games this season, in Week 17 in Nashville.

However, even though Tennessee picked up its sixth win of the seasonand will probably get its seventh against Houston next weekit probably isn't enough for Mike Munchak to stay on as the team's head coach in 2014.

First of all, Munchak got a big promotion to the head coaching position in 2011. If you recall, he was an offensive line coach, not an offensive coordinator. It's not like he was a hot commodity.

The reason he got such a big jump was that late Titans owner Bud Adams felt that he was the right man for the job. However, with Adams now deceased and Tommy Smith making the decisions, there isn't the same level of loyalty for Munchak within the organization any longer.

Smith may have been all for Munchak getting the job back in 2011, but he wasn't the one making the decisions at the time Munchak was hired, so it seems unlikely that he would have been as gung-ho about Munchak as Adams was.

Second, Munchak hasn't done great in his three years as head coach. Under Munchak, the Titans are 21-27. At best, they'll beat Houston and be 22-27. That might be acceptable under some circumstances, but without a playoff appearance or a decent divisional record, it is nothing to be proud of.

Speaking of divisional records, the Titans have been terrible against AFC South opponents under Munchak. In 17 divisional contests, they've only beaten the Colts once, the Texans once and the Jaguars three times.

That's a division record of 5-12, and if you can't win in your own division, you're never going to make the playoffs. To make matters worse, the Jaguars have been one of the worst teams in the NFL over the past three years, and their first win of 2013 came against the Titans, as did one of their only two victories in 2012.

The 2011 Colts were the worst team in the NFL (that's what got them Andrew Luck), and they still managed to split games with the Titans that year (like the Jaguars, their first win of the 2011 season came against Tennessee).

An even worse statistic stands out. Mike Munchak has had at least one game against the team with the worst win record in the NFL at some point in each of the past three years (the Colts in 2011 and the Jaguars in 2012 and 2013, respectively). In theory, those were the worst teams in the NFL at the time, but the Titans lost all three matches.

The Titans should have won all three of those games. When a team loses to an inferior team, the blame often falls on the coaches.

The Titans have a habit of losing games they should win, and that makes me think that, even with a win against Houston, Munchak's fate has already been determined.

Third, Munchak has built a team with a lot of talent, but things haven't really worked out the way he planned. The 2013 Titans were built to be a power running team that held onto the ball and won by playing mistake free. That has not been the case this season.

The running game has been lackluster in all three seasons that Munchak has been the coach. The defense has been good, and the receivers are a talented group with sky-high potential, but receivers aren't supposed to be your best offensive weapons if you're a ground-and-pound team.

Offensive line play has also been poor. The Titans spent big money when they brought in Andy Levitre from Buffalo this offseason, and they also spent their first-round pick last April on Chance Warmack. However, both have been disappointments so far.

Offensive lines can take years to play like a cohesive unit, but that brings up another problem. The offensive guard position has been a weak spot for some time, but Munchak only waited until this season to address it. If he knew that the group wouldn't play well together this season, it seems unwise to quickly revamp the unit and then trust them to be the key cog in your offensive scheme.

Furthermore, the team Munchak built isn't really the kind of team that wins in today's NFL. As rules have changed more and more to favor the passing game, it's become harder and harder to win as a run-first offense. In the NFL, you have to move with the times. The Titans under Munchak don't really seem ready to do that.

Lastly, there is this season. Even though he may end the season on a two-game winning streak, those victories will have come against two of the worst teams in the NFL. In fact, the Texans are almost a lock for the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

Beating two terrible teams at the end of the season isn't what anyone wants to be the highlight of their season as a coach, especially when Sunday's win over Jacksonville wasn't decisive.

If the Titans had blown Jacksonville away and then did the same to Houston, I could see Tommy Smith seriously considering keeping Munchak around for one more season. But that didn't happen. The Titans played from behind most of the game and then finally eked out a win.

Munchak is, by all accounts, a great guy, and he's been as loyal to the Titans as anyone could ask for. He's spent his entire career with the franchise and undoubtedly has the team's best interests at heart, but I just can't see him keeping his job.

He's lost a lot of games he shouldn't have, he's made some head scratching moves, both in the offseason and on the field, and he's been manhandled by the team's division rivals. Finally, his overall win record doesn't do him any favors either.

If Jake Locker had managed to stay healthy, maybe things would have been different. But unfortunately for Munchak and the Titans, things aren't different. It will probably be difficult to fire a man who has been a fixture in the organization for more than 30 years, but it is the right move.


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