- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Mike Munchak's staff cuts are growing increasingly surprising.
Special teams were up and down this year, but the ups didn’t count for enough.
Alan Lowry, who penned the franchise’s most famous play, the Music City Miracle kickoff return that beat Buffalo in a 1999 playoff game, is out, reports Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.
“It’s been a great run for me,” Lowry told Wyatt. “I’ve enjoyed my time with the Titans. To me, it wasn’t about production on the field.”
Among coaches who ran meeting rooms, Lowry was the longest tenured coach with the team. He joined the Oilers in 1996. (Strength and conditioning coach Steve Watterson’s been with the franchise since 1986.)
That’s four assistants out since the season so far for Munchak -- running back coach Jim Skipper, tight end coach John Zernhelt, linebacker coach Frank Bush and Lowry.
Munchak has those four spots plus quarterback coach position to fill. Dowell Loggains was promoted from quarterback coach to coordinator with five games left when offensive coordinator Chris Palmer was fired. Indications are Loggains will remain in the coordinator role.
No names of potential incomers have surfaced yet except for John Shoop, who interviewed for the quarterback coach job.
Munchak got a vote of confidence from owner Bud Adams the day after a 6-10 regular season ended. He has two years left on the deal he signed when he replaced Jeff Fisher in 2011. That transition came late and he didn’t necessarily get to shop for assistants while the market was at its peak.
There are plenty of possibilities out there for him now.
We need to see who comes in to have a fuller feel for what Munchak is doing, and I'm not certain he's done showing people the door.
I always remember talking with a coach in his first couple years who said one of the best pieces of advice he got from a veteran mentor was not to think of his initial staff as anything close to permanent. While loyalty is important, it is trumped by performance and working relationships, and the odds of everyone proving to be the fit a coach needs on his staff are small. As a team evolves, staff needs can change.
Munchak is very likely heading toward a season where he needs to make the playoffs or be fired.
Significant turnover on the staff clearly is part of what he’s expecting to help improve the Titans’ fortunes.