Cleveland Browns Coaching Search: Getting to Know the Top Contenders

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2. Mike Munchak – Former Head Coach, Tennessee Titans

Status: Already Interviewed

Resume: A first round selection by the Houston Oilers back in 1982, Mike Munchak has spent the last 31 years of his life as a member of the Oilers/Titans organization. Munchak was a 9 time Pro Bowl selection during his 12 year career as an offensive guard and after retiring after the 1993 season he joined the Houston coaching staff as an offensive assistant/quality control coach.

After 3 years, he was promoted to the offensive line coach and held that position for the next 14 years before taking over as head coach for Jeff Fisher prior to the 2011 season. During his 3 seasons as the Titans head coach, Munchak went 9-7, 6-10, and then 7-9. The Titans offered Munchak an extension and a raise following the 2013 season, provided he fire the majority of his coaching staff, something he refused to do and it ultimately cost him his job.

Personality: Mike Munchak is an old fashioned grinder whose toughness as a player followed him to the sidelines. He is a “leader of men”, which is something the Cleveland Browns regime is looking for in a coaching candidate. Munchak has shown an ability work well with his coordinators and would regularly sit in on meetings and offer input but also allowed them the freedom to run their units and call their own plays on game day. He held his players accountable and expected them to act professionally. His dismissal from Tennessee was unfortunate but ultimately showed how strong of a leader and genuine an individual he is.

Schematic Preference: Munchak was open to change as a head coach and let his staff run the offensive and defensive systems that he hired them for. His teams will be disciplined, physical, and aggressive. Munchak will likely want a big say in who his coordinators are, but if the Browns rumored interest in former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz is true, Munchak and Schwartz coached together for 10 years in Tennessee and would likely have little problem working together again.

Free Agency Impact: If the Browns hire Mike Munchak as their next head coach it could mean a larger emphasis will be placed on the offensive line, which could have a big impact on the pending free agency of Browns center Alex Mack. Mack has been a pro bowl player at center for Cleveland and has not missed a snap since joining the team in 2009. Reportedly Mack is hoping to test the free agent waters, but the Browns could use the franchise tag to keep him in Cleveland if a long term deal can not be reached.

A pair of former Titans which could interest the Browns would be cornerback Alterraun Verner and in the event that T.J. Ward leaves via free agency, strong safety Bernard Pollard. Some other players who might fit what Munchak would ultimately want to do in Cleveland are running back Ben Tate of the Houston Texans or New England Patriots power back LeGarrette Blount, in line tight end Brandon Pettigrew of the Detroit Lions, and Kansas City Chiefs offensive guard Jon Asamoah.

Draft Impact: Mike Munchak and the Tennessee Titans put a big emphasis on the interior of their offensive line a season ago. Given the surprising amount of guard talent available in the 2014 class, you could see the Browns target any number of guards/centers with one or two of their 7 picks in the first 4 rounds. Munchak is no doubt familiar with Alabama left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and guard Anthony Steen after having scouted 2013 10th overall selection Chance Warmack so extensively. Mississippi State’s Gabe Jackson is an old fashioned road grader who fits the same profile as Womack and could be had on the draft’s second day.

Munchak would no doubt look to restore the running game as well and could have an eye on a grinder like Ohio State Buckeye power back Carlos Hyde or an every down back like Ka’Deem Carey from Arizona or Washington’s Bishop Sankey. After making Jake Locker his first selection as a head coach in 2011, Munchak could have his eye on Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles with the #4 overall pick. Bortles has drawn comparisons to Locker physically and offers similar playmaking ability with his feet with a more natural feel for the passing game.