NFL Head Coach Candidates Who Make Most Sense for Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans need a head coach, and there are a handful of logical replacements for Mike Munchak.
After a wash of a season in 2013, one in which quarterback Jake Locker suffered another serious injury, general manager Ruston Webster could be looking for a coach who'll be able to tap into every last ounce of the 2011 first-round pick's potential.
Here are the five best candidates to be the next Titans head coach.
Ken Whisenhunt, San Diego Chargers Offensive Coordinator
The Titans need an injection of offensive creativity.
In 2013, with Jake Locker for a little more than six games and Ryan Fitzpatrick for the rest of the season, Tennessee finished 18th in yards per drive and 17th in points per drive according to Football Outsiders.
Good, not great.
In short, offense wins in today's NFL, and the Titans offense wasn't efficient enough under Mike Munchak.
After being fired in Arizona after a disastrous quarterback situation doomed the 2012 season, Ken Whisenhunt was hired by first-time head coach Mike McCoy in San Diego with the Chargers.
Quarterback Philip Rivers had a career revitalization under McCoy and Whisenhunt during the 2013 campaign. He finished with a league-high completion percentage of 69.5, posted his highest touchdown percentage since 2008, his lowest interception percentage since 2009 and the second-most seasonal completions of his career.
San Diego finished first in yards per drive and only the Denver Broncos scored more points per drive than the Chargers.
Quite impressive for a team that finished 26th and 21st in those respective categories a year ago.
Remember, Whisenhunt resurrected Kurt Warner's career with the Cardinals and took the team to a Super Bowl during the 2008-2009 season.
If the Titans want more offensive steadiness and would like to give Locker one last shot, Whisenhunt might be the best option at head coach.
Sean McDermott, Carolina Panthers Defensive Coordinator
If the Titans want to "go" defense with their next head coach, they need to take a long look at Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott.
The 39-year-old spent 11 seasons in Philadelphia with the Eagles coaching the secondary, linebackers and finally, the entire defense.
In 2011, Ron Rivera hired McDermott to be his defensive coordinator when he took the head coaching job in Carolina.
That year, the Panthers fielded one of the worst units in football. The defense finished 31st in both yards and points allowed per drive according to Football Outsiders.
In 2012, McDermott's group exhibited noticeable improvement, jumping to 20th in yards allowed per drive and 21st in points allowed per drive.
Everything came together in the NFC South-winning campaign of 2013.
Carolina's defense catapulted to eighth in yards allowed per drive and second in points allowed per drive. Although it's secondary got beat from time to time, the front seven was, arguably, the finest in the NFL.
The Titans have a formidable front seven of their own, headlined by defensive linemen Jurrell Casey, Karl Klug, Derrick Morgan and Akeem Ayers.
Oh, and McDermott runs a 4-3 defense, so Tennessee wouldn't have to labor through a time-consuming alignment switch.
Mike Zimmer, Cincinnati Bengals Defensive Coordinator
Mike Zimmer's been a hot head-coaching candidate for a few years now. His Bengals defenses have perennially been atop the league in many of the major statistical categories in each of the past three years.
Though they haven't put together their best performances in the playoffs, during the regular season, they've been very sound.
In 2013, only the Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers surrendered fewer points per drive than Cincinnati, and the Bengals tallied a respectable 43 sacks—the 10th-highest total in the league.
Zimmer runs a 4-3 system that's heavily dependent on the defensive front—again—one of Tennessee's strengths.
This would be another smooth transition for both parties.
With a solid, quarterback-developing offensive coordinator, Zimmer could be a brilliant hire for the Titans.
Pete Carmichael, Jr., New Orleans Saints Offensive Coordinator
Pete Carmichael Jr. isn't getting any head-coaching buzz thus far, but that could change when the New Orleans Saints season is over.
The team's offensive coordinator since 2009, Carmichael is head coach and play-caller Sean Payton's right-hand man.
He's been a member of Payton's staff since 2006 and has a connection to Drew Brees that dates all the way back to the San Diego Chargers in 2002, when he was an offensive assistant and quality control coach.
The Saints have finished worth than 7th in the points per drive stat category according to Football Outsiders during Carmichael's tenure as the offensive coordinator.
Though he hasn't been tremendously accurate, Jake Locker has a strong enough arm to run New Orleans' vertical-passing game, an attack that, ironically features a myriad of screens as well.
Greg Roman, San Francisco 49ers Offensive Coordinator
When it comes to imaginative offensive minds, none may be more intelligent than Greg Roman of the San Francisco 49ers.
He's been with Jim Harbaugh since the 2009 season at Stanford, and he's experienced a great deal of success over the past five years.
Roman brought his unique offensive philosophy to the NFL when Harbaugh hired him as the 49ers offensive coordinator in 2011.
At it's foundation, it's old-school, power running, but it features "new-age" pistol formations and read-option plays. After nearly two seasons running the offense through the speedy Colin Kaepernick, Roman wouldn't have to tweak much for the hyper-athletic Jake Locker.
The Titans added guard Andy Levitre in free agency and drafted guard Chance Warmack with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2013 draft, so, in theory, there are some solid pieces in place to incorporate Roman's power running offense.
One has to think that if Roman was hired in Tennessee, it'd be a relatively smooth transition for both sides.