Three Years Later: Have the Titans Improved Statistically?

Justin Edmonds

It's been almost three seasons with Mike Munchak in charge of this team. What areas have improved since he took over the big office?

With one week left in the regular season the spotlight, particularly here at MCM, is still on Mike Munchak. Most new coaches are given three seasons before their fate with the franchise is re-evaluated. With that deadline approaching, let's take a look at some statistics (and then a few advanced metrics) to see the impact this staff has had since taking over from Jeff Fisher's crew.

Stats for the next two categories were pulled from NFL.com.

Offense

Jeff Fisher (2010) Mike Munchak (2013)
Yards/Game 302.1 (27th) 338.6 (19th)
Pass Yds/Game 194.2 (25th) 222.4 (21st)
Run Yds/Game 107.9 (17th) 116.2 (15th)
Points/Game 22.2 (17th) 23.1 (18th)

A quick glance at the Jeff Fisher column shows just how awful the Titans were offensively in his last season. It shouldn't have been hard to top them, and Munchak did...somewhat. The biggest jump was in yards per game. Broken down into passing and rushing, the stats provide a more interesting story. Munchak's team passes for almost 30 yards more on average but the four spot jump from 25th to 21st indicates that some of that is just how the NFL game (and teams) have changed over three seasons. That shouldn't come as any surprise. The league has made things easier for offenses in the past few years. The fact that this team still can't field a passing offense in the top half of the league hurts Munchak's case - particularly since he said he wanted to improve that aspect when he was first hired. One more interesting note: despite improving in yards, the Titans are scoring roughly the same amount of points.

Defense

Jeff Fisher (2010) Mike Munchak (2013)
Yards/Game 367.7 (26th) 341.3 (15th)
Pass Yds/Game 252.0 (29th) 225.9(10th)
Run Yds/Game 115.7 (20th) 115.3 (20th)
Points/Game 21.2 (15th) 24.7 (19th)

Chuck Cecil left this defense in ruins and we can clearly see an improvement in yards against, thanks to a much stronger pass defense. It was surprising to see that the points/game category hasn't improved. It is hard to judge how much of an impact Munchak really has had on this defense considering his coaching experience is limited to the offensive line, though he does get credit for bringing Gregg Williams on board. The Williams-Jerry Gray pairing has certainly had an impact. Gray's defense in 2012 would not have been as kind in this comparison.

Football Outsiders Advanced Stats

These next two charts are pulled from FootballOutsiders.com.

Offense

Jeff Fisher (2010) Mike Munchak (2013)
Offensive DVOA -4.5% (20th) 1.5% (16th)
Pass Offense 11.3% (18th) 7.0% (18th)
Rush Offense -9.8% (27th) 1.8% (12th)

There are some descriptions on the site you can read here if you're unfamiliar with these metrics. These three are only one small piece of the puzzle, but they serve to give a quick glimpse at how others felt about the Titans' offenses. Neither coach here comes out of this looking particularly well, but it is easy to see Munchak is a clear winner by these standards. The rush offense statistic was double-checked - that huge jump was unexpected.

Defense- NOTE: Negative is better, since it means LESS scoring

Jeff Fisher (2010) Mike Munchak (2013)
Defensive DVOA -5.8 (8th) 3.3% (18th)
Pass Defense 3.5% (15th) 6.0% (16th)
Rush Defense -17.7% (4th) 0.2% (23rd)

Here's where things get a little wonkier. Football Outsiders loved the 2010 rush defense compared to the 2013 one despite being equal on per-game average. This is likely because they take into account many more factors. Still, the gap was surprising. In fact they liked the 2010 defense much more than the 2013 defense overall, which is even more shocking. Even the non-adjusted numbers (not shown here) favoured the 2010 version.

Summary

There is no doubt Mike Munchak can cite improvement in some very specific areas. There are a few things to consider though. Offensively his team looks a little better, but that is also considering a few advantages, like league changes and an improved offensive roster. Defensively, the upgrade from Chuck Cecil's defense is far more pronounced but Munchak also has the least amount of influence on this side of the ball.

The biggest conclusion from this quick glance at a few stats is that Munchak cannot point to one specific aspect to hang his hat on. The strongest unit is the pass defense, sitting at 10th in the league. Everything else is a collection of mediocre numbers and rankings. He took over a very bad team and after three seasons this team is not even good enough to call average.

If there was one unit that was the clear problem, a simple coordinator change might have been enough to turn this team around but the Titans aren't that fortunate. This team needs new coordinators, and a new head coach to bring a philosophical change. Better results or even a drastic positive improvement is unlikely to be seen if this current staff remains intact for 2014.

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