As Mike Munchak begins to assemble his first coaching staff, some interesting names are being floated about to fill the vacancies.
Let's take a look at some candidates on the Titans radar regarding these openings.
Defensive coordinator: As first reported by 247sports.com's site partner the Austin Statesman, Jerry Gray is the leading candidate to fill this spot. Gray cut his coaching teeth as a secondary coach under Gregg Williams and followed him to Buffalo as DC when Williams became head coach there. Gray just accepted the defensive backs coach's job at his alma mater, the University of Texas.
Two potential obstacles are in play here: First, Gray would have to decide that he is OK with burning some bridges at his old college, leaving without ever coaching a down and putting his alma mater in a lurch. Second, the college job is guaranteed money for 2011. Unless he could wrangle some sort of guarantee from the Titans, he would not be paid all of his salary for 2011 in the NFL in the event of a lockout.
If Gray comes on board, it gives secondary coach Marcus Robertson a likely reprieve, since Robertson was one of Gray's prized pupils as a player.
As for a fallback candidate,the name of Cal defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, who was on Jeff Fisher's radar, is still lingering as well.
Offensive coordinator: As the TitanInsider Tipsheet reported last week, Heimerdinger was not a lock to return, and he was dismissed on Tuesday.
If this job comes open, the three names being heard by TitanInsider all have the wow factor. The first name is Indianapolis Colts offensive consultant Tom Moore, who was offensive coordinator there for years before “retiring” due to some glitch in the pension plan and returning. Moore and Munchak are close friends, and the thought of the guy who helped mold Peyton Manning into a Hall of Famer tutoring some young quarterback for the Titans is tantalizing.
But if Moore, who is 72, doesn't want to make the move, there is another potential candidate who could be just as intriguing. Tom Clements just finished winning a Super Bowl as quarterbacks coach of the Green Bay Packers, and is a guy who could be ready to step up and be an offensive coordinator and mold a young quarterback similar to the way he turned Aaron Rodgers in a superstar.
The other name on Munchak's radar as a possible OC candidate is former Oakland Raiders and Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan, who has been an assistant head coach with the Jets for the past couple of seasons. Callahan is intriguing in that he helped transform Rich Gannon from journeyman to league MVP and has had a hand in Marc Sanchez's development as well.
Offensive line: Munchak has to have a trusted lieutenant to take his old spot as offensive line coach. Obviously, Bruce Matthews, his buddy and fellow Hall of Famer is the first choice here. Matthews signed a contract extension, believed to be two years, and the Titans would have to get permission from the Texans in order to lure Matthews away. Matthews' name was even brought up in Munchak's opening press conference, and Munchak didn't rule out the possibility.
If Matthews can't get out of his deal in Houston or somehow decides not to pack up the family and move to Nashville a second time, the fallback candidate is also a familiar name. Former Titans offensive lineman Jason Mathews would likely be the choice. He is currently and administrator at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville. No matter which one gets the job, TitanInsider is hearing that Munchak will probably have a veteran coach somewhere on the staff to help them as they get acclimated to their duties.
Running backs: Sherman Smith is under contract with the Seattle Seahawks, but there is the chance, if the Titans get permission that Smith would come back to Nashville and reprise the role he had from 1995-2007 before he left to become offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins.
Wide receivers: The popular name out there is Ray Sherman, who was just let go by the Dallas Cowboys and was reported to have been a potential interviewee for the head coaching job. However, that never materialized. Sherman spent a couple of seasons here in Tennessee and could come back.
The other name TitanInsider is hearing that could land on this staff either as a wide receivers coach or maybe involved with tight ends is former University of Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster. Most of Brewster's coaching career has involved tight ends, but currently John Zernhelt has that position. Most of Zernhelt's background has been coaching the offensive line, however.
Defensive line: Auburn defensive line coach Tracy Rocker's name keeps surfacing regarding a replacement for Jim Washburn. Rocker might well get the job, but TitanInsider is told that whoever becomes the new defensive coordinator will have significant input into who his position coaches will be. Munchak will be careful to avoid the type of frictional situation that developed between Washburn and Chuck Cecil. The other possibility here is Pendergast, who is also in the background at defensive coordinator. There are those trying to connect the dots between Chuck Smith, who just left the University of Tennessee as d-line coach, but TitanInsider is told that Smith is not an option for the Titans.
TitanInsider co-publisher Terry McCormick contributed to his report.