Make no mistake, Mike Munchak is his own man.
In some ways very quietly and in other aspects very noticeably, Munchak is remaking the Tennessee Titans in his own disciplined, professional image.
He also showed that, unlike is predecessor Jeff Fisher, he is not afraid to take a chance when necessary, if the gamble's risk/reward is beneficial to the Titans.
That was readily evident on Sunday when Munchak consulted with offensive coordinator Chris Palmer about what he could call if the Titans went for it on fourth down deep in Ravens territory. The call, a misdirection play run by Javon Ringer, worked for a 10-yard touchdown, giving Tennessee a 17-10 lead and the launching point of dominating the rest of the game in besting old rival Baltimore.
As Munchak explained, too many times against Baltimore settling for field goals when the Titans needed touchdowns had cost Tennessee victories.
“It's going to be situational, but it was more about a history for me with this team. I've been around the Ravens and lost too many games because we got too many three-point plays and not enough touchdowns,” Munchak. “I had that factor in my mind as far as making the decision, but also Chris on the offensive side had a couple of plays that we thought were really good plays on third down and in this case fourth down.”
Munchak and the Titans showed a willingness to adjust on the fly as well, abandoning the run early on in favor of Matt Hasselbeck, who rewarded them with 358 passing yards on Sunday.
“Like any game, you think about going in balanced. We didn't just want to abandon the run from the beginning. We wanted to try to do some things we thought we'd try to be able to do early, but they did a good job keeping us to short gains,” Munchak said. “It became obvious that what was working right off the bat, was that guys were getting open, Matt (Hasselbeck) was sharp with his delivery, and we thought that was the direction we would go.
“We didn't expect to pass the ball as much as we did, but it got into that type of game. What helped us do it was the protection was good. If we're not running the ball well, how long are we going to bang our head against the wall? ”
A far cry from the often stubbornness that pockmarked the end of the Fisher Era as he seemed unwilling to adapt to a changing NFL and became too comfortable and too powerful for his own good.
The players themselves have noticed a subtle change in the way the organization is run these days and are following Munchak's lead.
“Munch is very detailed oriented, very into the specifics, and very into each player doing his job. He has kind of increased the discipline levels,” Ball said. “Coach Fisher didn't want to fine anybody at all. People rarely got fined, and here guys if they are late or break the rules, they're going to pay for it. I'd say they have upped the discipline level.”
And upped the hopes of Titans fans regarding the direction of the franchise in the process.