NFL Tennessee Titans

Top Five Candidates to Replace Mike Munchak as Titans’ Head Coach

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NFL: Five Candidates to Replace Mike Munchak as Titans' Head Coach

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The Tennessee Titans waited nearly a week after “Black Monday” to make a decision on their head coach, and a report on Friday suggested Mike Munchak would be back in 2014, but over the weekend he was relieved of his duties after going 22-26 in three seasons. Munchak spent over 30 years with the Titans/Oilers’ organization as a player and a coach, including his entire playing career that eventually earned him induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001, but he reportedly balked at making changes to his coaching staff in order to keep the job.

Two of the seven head coaching openings that came either during or right after the end of the regular season have been filled, with the Houston Texans hiring Bill O’Brien and Lovie Smith being hired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, so the Titans may have to act quickly depending on who they’ve targeted as Munchak’s replacement.

Tennessee should have a fairly wide-open search for a new head coach. Finding someone with an offensive background to work with quarterback Jake Locker and young wide receivers Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright could be a top priority, but a well-regarded defensive mind that can help an underachieving defense would also be a good fit.

The Titans’ head coaching job does not carry the profile associated with some of the other available opportunities around the league, so they may be left choosing from some lesser-known candidates and perhaps a diamond-in-the-rough can be found.

Without further ado, here are my top five candidates to replace Mike Munchak as head coach of the Titans.

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5. Darrell Bevell

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Ian Rapoport of NFL Network has reported that the Titans and Bevell have mutual interest in each other, but the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator has also garnered interest from the Minnesota Vikings and Washington Redskins.

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4. James Franklin

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Franklin’s successful run at Vanderbilt over the past three seasons has him on the radar of multiple NFL teams, but the Titans’ job may particularly appeal to him if he wants to stay in Nashville and it can be assumed he’ll get an interview soon.

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3. Mike Zimmer

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Zimmer interviewed for multiple head coaching jobs a couple years ago, but nothing came to fruition and he remains under the radar as Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator. The Bengals finished third in league in total defense despite multiple key injuries this season, while Tennessee had a statistically mediocre defensive unit despite some very good individual talent.

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2. Dan Quinn

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The Seattle Seahawks finished first in the league in both total (273.6 yards per game) and scoring defense (14.4 points per game) this season, and Quinn deserves some credit for keeping the unit at an elite level in his first season as defensive coordinator. Titans’ general manager Ruston Webster crossed paths with Quinn when the two were in Seattle during Quinn’s stint as the Seahawks’ defensive line coach from 2009-2010, so that familiarity may yield a quick hiring decision if Quinn interviews well.

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1. Jim Caldwell

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Caldwell was hired as quarterbacks coach for the Baltimore Ravens prior to the 2012 season, but he replaced Cam Cameron as offensive coordinator in December and the team’s offensive improved all the way through to a win in Super Bowl XLVII. Caldwell has a wide array of coaching experience, including as a head coach at the collegiate level and in the NFL, and he seems to be just the type of under-the-radar candidate that would be a perfect fit for the Titans.