Titans former offensive coordinator Chris Palmer, who was relieved of his duties by head coach Mike Munchak on Monday night, a little more than halfway through his second season in Nashville, was in serious jeopardy of reaching the same fate much earlier this season, but a win over the Steelers on “Thursday Night Football” bought him extra time.
The belief among our sources in Nashville was that, despite Palmer deserving a fair share of the blame for Chris Johnson’s early struggles, an injury to starting QB Jake Locker gave him a slightly longer leash.
The leash broke following Tennessee’s sorry offensive performance against the Jaguars Sunday. Palmer’s group found the endzone just one time against the league’s 29th-ranked scoring defense coming into the game, compelling Munchak to do Monday night what he had considered doing on more than one occasion this season.
QBs coach Dowell Loggains replaces Palmer, in what is viewed as an extended audition for the coordinator job beyond the season.
Loggains is viewed as a young, bright offensive mind in the league, whom I’ve been told by several trusted sources would make a fine coordinator one day. This is a golden opportunity for him to speed that process up and, despite Tennessee’s standing as the NFL’s 24th-rankied offense, Loggains has a number of excellent weapons at his disposal.
What Loggains also has at his disposal is a fresh perspective. The Titans' offense is young, with a lot of room to grow, and the players are likely to embrace a coordinator who also fits that description.
In addition to Palmer’s hand in C.J.’s slow start — our sources indicate Johnson’s talents and the Titans’ scheme were not meshing early in the season — he has had a disconnect with some of Tennessee’s best skill-position players. Both TE Jared Cook and WR Kenny Britt have voiced publicly their dissatisfaction over Palmer’s reluctance to put them in the best position to make plays.
Those are arguably any coaches’ two greatest responsibilities: evaluate your players and make sure they are being used in the best way possible.
In the end, that is what did in Palmer. Tennessee showed flashes of being a formidable offense a season ago — despite not getting to install the entire offense — with Matt Hasselbeck as the starter.
The belief inside the organization was that, while there would be more growing pains with Locker replacing Hasselbeck, there would also be a lot more potential to be an explosive offense. The expectation was also that the offense would take the next step with Palmer having a full offseason to install it, yet his scheme was sometimes too complex, which in part led to a regression beyond the more simplistic approach Palmer took in 2011.
This had to be a difficult decision for Munchak, a close friend of Palmer’s, who is sometimes loyal to a fault. I think it was the right move, though one that could have come a lot sooner.
After Bud Adams put the entire organization on notice following its colossally bad 51-20 loss to the Bears in Week Nine, the belief was that both of Munchak’s coordinators were on borrowed time. Munchak, in essence, had to make this move to save his own skin — it's just curious why he didn't react a bit sooner, when the Titans might have also still had time to save their season.