Titans coach preparing for when labor deal reached
As a former offensive lineman, Titans coach Mike Munchak can sit and watch film for days on end - a helpful quality as the NFL lockout just keeps going and going.
Munchak, a Hall of Famer, is making up for lost time with players by planning away.
He has a schedule ready if a new labor deal is reached in time to allow for organized team activities in June. He's consulted with assistants in devising his first training camp. His coordinators have the offensive and defensive playbooks ready, and he even has coaches preparing game plans for the Titans' first two opponents of 2011.
And Munchak believes the notion his Titans are in trouble due to him being the last head coach hired is overblown. He said Wednesday all NFL teams are at a disadvantage right now.
''We've got great coaches here and good workers as players. I think once they get in here, no matter what the time frame is, I think we should have no problem catching up,'' Munchak said.
One of his safeties, Michael Griffin, is among those unsure how the Titans will react to the coaching change due to the lockout. Speaking on 104.9 The Horn in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday, Griffin said it's hard to have organized practices when players don't know the new coaching staff's plans.
''I think the Tennessee Titans right now may be in the worst situation of all teams,'' Griffin said.
Asked about Griffin's comment, Munchak said such concerns won't be as big a problem as people think.
''Now, is there a little more comfort knowing maybe a player is working out thinking he has a better feel of what's going to be asked of him? I'm sure there's more peace of mind if you have the same staff,'' Munchak said.
''On the other side of that, it's a nice breath of fresh air coming into something that's going to be a little different. And it's up to us once they come in to make sure that's not something that is too overwhelming, that it's something they can adjust to quickly. To me, it's still tackling and running and throwing the ball. We're not going to reinvent something here.''
That's why planning is crucial.
Munchak can consult with the two former head coaches he has on staff in offensive coordinator Chris Palmer and Dave McGinnis, now a senior assistant coach. Munchak has detailed how he wants to run a typical 18-hour day during training camp, figured out which drills he wants and when in a typical practice, and even the schedule for a regular season week.
They spent May studying undrafted free agents and NFL free agents to be ready when the lockout ends.
If Munchak has to scrap his schedule for on-field activities in June, his coaches will work ahead further by breaking down more opponents on the 2011 schedule. The new head coach also is ready to adjust on the fly if training camp doesn't start as usual in late July.
''The principles are there and the thinking and how I want to do it is in place,'' Munchak said.
Right now, the only date on Munchak's work calendar not up for change is a clinic for 125 high school coaches on June 21.
''There will be some anxious coaches,'' Munchak said. ''I hope these guys are ready to get coached up when they come in. We're excited about that.''
No communication is allowed between NFL employees and players, so Munchak learns about his players the same way as Titans' fans - by reading media reports.
As a former player, Munchak said he expects players are busy getting into shape because they know they will be playing football again at some point. A group of Titans led by cornerback Cortland Finnegan, safety Chris Hope and right guard Jake Scott have been working together in Nashville.
While coaches always can find something to work on and tweak, Munchak can't wait to start working with players again. That is the fun part of this job after all.
''We're looking forward to that time, and hopefully it'll be sooner than later,'' Munchak said.