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The Do's And Dont's Of A Coaching Search

A list of factors to consider as the coaching search heats up. ,

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the season wrapping up, there will be a lot more talk about the head coaching search in the coming weeks. While there has already been some discussion already, it will only heat up. Considering the magnitude of this decision, I advise the fanbase and more importantly Titans' ownership to consider the following factors:


Do Consider Personnel: Other than a few exceptions, it seems as if most of the potential head coaching candidates are coordinators for playoff teams. It's easy to watch the unit that they oversee and envision it in Nashville. However, it is important to consider the personnel on that coach's team. When the new coach takes over, whoever it may be, the roster is going to lack talent at the beginning. Will the new coach be effective with lesser players? Of course, if things go as planned, more talent will be added as time goes on. But in the meantime, is his coaching style effective enough to get immediate results with worse personnel? In today's impatient NFL, it is almost necessary, as coaches do not get the same amount of time that they used to in order to establish a program.

Do Look For Connections: Any coach that the Titans hire will obviously have to assemble a formidable coaching staff upon arrival. As Titans fan saw with Mike Munchak, this is a very important factor. You want to look for a leader of an entire football team, not just a skilled coordinator for one side of the ball, which places a lot of importance on the rest of the coaching staff that would be potentially brought in. Looking at a coach's history to see who he previously worked with and making possible connections in order to see who else may potentially be added is a major key.

Do Consider Personality: Again, the job is to find a leader of men, not a highly skilled coordinator. Looking at a coach's personality is very important when projecting them as a head coach. Does this coach have a strong enough personality to handle being at the top? Will professionals rally around him? Will they stay the course and have faith in him if and when things do not go swimmingly in year one? Will coaches want to work under him? These are questions that need to be answered, and one of the most effective ways in projecting that is by taking a hard look at each coach's personality.

Do Look Past Skills As A Coordinator: You should probably read that one again. Yes, look past each candidate's ability at the coordinator level. If he is a potential head coaching candidate, odds are that he is very good at his job at the coordinator level. The problem is, for the third time, that is not what he is being brought in to do. Look past his abilities as a coordinator and make projections for the head coaching level.


Don't Fear The 4-3: Some coaches may want to come in and run a 4-3 defense. While it may seem like a blow after two years of transitioning to a 3-4, do not be afraid. For one thing, looking at the personnel, it would not be a giant leap to make the switch back. Jurrell Casey and Derrick Morgan are certainly familiar. One could easily argue that Casey's best years were in a 4-3 defense. Brian Orakpo played in a 4-3 as a rookie with the Washington Redskins and was successful, recording 11 sacks and making the Pro Bowl. It would not be a huge transition for a majority of the players. Beyond that, most teams are so multiple in their defenses nowadays that it is not as important of a factor as it once was--teams do not just sit in their base defense all game. Also, long term continuity is important. A common sentiment is that Dick Lebeau should stay on the coaching staff. Unfortunately, he is almost 80 years old. He will not be here forever. Even if switching defenses is a bit of a struggle at the beginning, long term consistency is the key. Even if the Titans do not switch to a 4-3, but move on from Lebeau, the same idea is true. Not all 3-4 defenses are the same.

Don't Pigeonhole: A lot has been made of hiring an offensive coach because of Marcus Mariota. To which I say, why limit an already limited pool? It is hard enough as is to find a good head coach. Eliminating candidates before the process begins is not a good idea. The team should consider all options, and hire the best candidate overall. Every year we see teams try to hire "gurus" on one side of the ball, and it fails. Titans fans have firsthand experience with this, fresh out of the Whisenhunt era.

Don't Be Afraid To Look Outside The Box: It is easy to want the team to go after the "hot coordinator." The only problem is that there is a new hot coordinator each year, and time and time again they fail at the head coaching level. It happens every year without fail. Sometimes, they do not even get head coaching jobs, and struggle at the coordinator level the following year. For example, Ray Horton was demoted shortly after being thought of as a head coaching candidate. Bill Lazor was once thought of as an "up and coming" coordinator, and he is now out of a job in Miami. I encourage Titans fans and Titans ownership to look outside of the box when considering head coaching candidates. Some recent examples are Bruce Arians and John Harbaugh. They certainly were not the hot coordinators of the year, yet have turned out to be the best coaches of their respective classes. Keeping an open mind will do wonders.

Don't Assume The Same Results: I have probably made my point about hiring a head coach and not a coordinator, but I will say it one more time. Do not expect the same results as the unit that candidates are coordinating right now. It is a recipe for disaster. This team will have different players--lesser ones at that--and what may work in one place may not in another. Do not expect a seamless transition.

Don't Make Excuses: This is something else that Titans fans should be familiar with after the Ken Whisenhunt experience. If you have to make excuses for a potential head coach, or if you have to bank on the idea of them "learning" or "changing," odds are that it is not a good idea to go down that road. The new head coach should enter with a clean slate.

We can only hope that Titans' ownership is taking all of these factors into consideration. This is probably the most important hire that the franchise has ever had to make. At the risk of being overly dramatic, I would be willing to say that the fate of the franchise and Marcus Mariota depend on this hire. Being careful and being thorough is 100 percent necessary.