(Updates. With AP Photos.)|
By TERESA M. WALKER
AP Sports Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Mike Munchak has made his biggest move yet as head coach of the Tennessee Titans.
He has put Tennessee's offense - and possibly his future - in the hands of 32-year-old quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains.
Munchak fired offensive coordinator Chris Palmer on Monday night and gave the job to an assistant who will call his first NFL plays Sunday when the Titans host the Texans (10-1).
His motivation is pretty simple.
Owner Bud Adams put everyone in the franchise on notice last month, even Munchak, who has worked for this team 30 years as a player, assistant coach and now head coach. Munchak, with 2013 the last season of his contract, said their jobs are all on the line with a 4-7 record.
``This is just something we're hoping is a fix to something that was going on,'' Munchak said Wednesday. ``Hopefully it'll lead to helping us play a lot better the next five weeks. Things go well, I hope we're all back. I think it's something we can all work out. We'll see.''
The Titans boasted during the preseason about all the playmakers they had on offense - from running back Chris Johnson to Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright at receiver and tight end Jared Cook. Instead, they've been inconsistent from game to game and series to series. Munchak had enough after the Titans had to settle for five field goal attempts in losing 24-19 last weekend at Jacksonville.
Johnson and the run game rebounded from a start that had Tennessee ranked last in the NFL after five weeks and now ranks 19th. Johnson is sixth in the NFL with 942 yards and is averaging 4.9 yards per carry. But with Jake Locker hurting his non-throwing shoulder Sept. 30 and missing five straight starts, the passing game is 20th with time of possession 30th in the league.
Munchak said they'd been frustrated most of this season and the high expectations didn't help. The struggles in Jacksonville made him realize he had no reason to wait any longer needing to try and win the final five games. The decision was all his, though he discussed the move with the general manager and the chief operating officer before calling Adams.
``If it doesn't work, then I'm the one that made these decisions,'' Munchak said.
The Titans sounded pretty happy with the change in coordinators from the 63-year-old Palmer to someone who hasn't even been alive as long as the man he replaced had spent coaching.
Locker, who will make his seventh career start Sunday, called the change a different style.
``Coach Palmer was more of a run and shoot, there's a lot of different options,'' Locker said. ``That's not as much a part of what coach Loggains does offensively, so I think there's some differences there in that. Again, you can't go in and change everything with a week's time to get ready for an NFL game.''
His teammates weren't as cautious about the changes.
Asked if he could see nuances already with Loggains having less than 48 hours to put together his first game plan, Cook smiled widely and called the differences ``pretty awesome.'' He said the scheme is similar to what the late Mike Heimerdinger ran as coordinator here between 2008 and 2010.
``It has a lot of Dinger in it, which is pretty cool,'' Cook said. ``This is going to be another different story on Sunday. That's when we're really going to see what's up and see what kind of plays are going to be called. Right now it's pretty cool.''
Wright, who leads NFL rookies and is the team leader with 48 catches, said there might have been issues previously with the options receivers had in their routes.
``I think everybody will notice a difference come Sunday, so we'll just have to wait and see,'' Wright said.
Houston coach Gary Kubiak was friends with Heimerdinger, who died in September 2011. Kubiak said Heimerdinger thought the world of Loggains, who had worked with Vince Young and Kerry Collins to Matt Hasselbeck and Locker.
``Obviously Mike does too, to give him this opportunity,'' Kubiak said.
Loggains also worked under Norm Chow and spent his first season in the NFL in Dallas when Bill Parcells and Sean Payton were with the Cowboys. Munchak said Loggains, a native of Arkansas and former quarterback in college for the Razorbacks, is an energetic ``football junkie'' who studies the game.
And Munchak is not worried about Loggains making his debut Sunday calling plays from the sideline.
``Everyone has got to have a first time,'' Munchak said.
NOTES: LB Colin McCarthy did not practice Wednesday after developing concussion symptoms after last week's loss. Munchak said the injury could not be pinned on any specific play, and now they have to wait and see if the linebacker can be cleared before Sunday's game. ... S Al Afalava (ankle) practiced fully after being hurt Nov. 4. DE Derrick Morgan (knee) did not practice but could return Thursday.
Follow Teresa M. Walker on Twitter: http://twitter.com/teresamwalker