Now that the Titans have fired Mike Munchak because he wouldn't fire (enough of) his assistants, with Mark Howard of 104.5 indicating Dowell Loggains may have been Munchak's Rubicon, they're in the market for a new head coach. The obvious next question, then, is who should that new head coach be?
My maybe surprising answer is I don't really care that much who the coach is. I liked Bill O'Brien, whom the Texans have already hired, as a potential candidate as much as anybody, but there are a number of quality candidates out there. The big question for me is instead, what is the process the Titans use in evaluating the team and selecting the next head coach?
This doesn't mean I have no thoughts on who the next head coach should be. For one, I'd like somebody who, unlike Munchak, has watched a 7-on-7 drill before and actually knows which yardline post-touchdown conversions come from. I don't think either of those is a particularly abstruse or otherwise esoteric requirement. I would like somebody who has served at a level beyond that of position coach and who has superior management skills. An NFL head coach has multiple layers of people working under him, has to know enough about both sides of the ball to supervise people working under him, has to be able to lead 53 players on the active roster, work with both the coaching staff and players and other people both on stuff that happens on the field and stuff that happens off the field, as well as serving as the public face of the franchise. That's a reasonable managerial challenge, and I am pretty much categorically against the hiring of position coaches without superior experience because it is generally too much of a leap in that regard.
The other key factor to me is how the Titans evaluate their team. Do they really think they're as close as Munchak seemed to indicate he thought they were, what with their six one-score losses and needing just one more win to make it to the postseason? Will the Titans be focused on going spending all their resources to go 9-7 in 2014 the same way they tried to go 9-7 this past season? That's been my fear, because Ruston Webster's public comments the past year seemed to me to have been directed toward that being the goal, speaking of a team that's close and about how every year you see teams pull off surprising playoff runs and big turnarounds. That has led me to think Webster believes in the "let's try to go 9-7" strategy, whereas I believe the proper response to failing to go 9-7 in the worst division in the league is to look at the broader-scale picture, realize you have a mediocre team, and decide to build a very good team. The Munchak firing could be a sign that, with Bud passing away, Webster is now free to build the best team, not a team that maximizes the Titans' chances of making it to the playoffs next year.
It will be important for Webster to find a coach he believes shares his vision of where the Titans are and where they want to be, whether that's truly trying to go 9-7 in 2014 or building the best team they can, knowing that means they don't necessarily improve on or even match 2013's 7-9 mark. Given he's currently the guy in charge, I don't think that will be an issue. Keeping that in mind, I'll try to hold my nose and keep an open mind on candidates and coordinators, hoping the Titans run a quality process that produces a good result. Tommy Smith has put his trust in Ruston Webster to find the right person, and we as fans just have to hope he does his job the right way and well.