Now the real challenge begins for the Tennessee Titans.
At some point, likely this week, Titans coach Mike Munchak, general manager Ruston Webster and COO Mike Reinfeldt will meet with owner Bud Adams, who wants to know exactly why the team struggled to a 6-10 finish and out of the playoffs for a fourth straight season.
There will also likely be the discussion of which members of the coaching staff, and which players on the team, still fit into the Titans plans for 2013 and beyond.
There has been some speculation that Munchak himself could be let go, but the coach indicated he is hopeful of returning for a third season next year.
“Obviously, I feel I’m the guy for the job,” Munchak said. “I feel like we’re going to get this thing going. I think this is 9-7 a year ago, 6-10 not happy, but I think we’re getting the right guys in here, we’re doing it the right way. I think myself and the staff feel good about the direction we’re going. We know we’ve got some work ahead of us in that regard, but I think we’re going ahead. I’ll have a talk with, I’m sure at some point with Mr. Adams, and hopefully, he’ll agree me.”
Webster said he knows that changes have to be made in order to make the Titans a more competitive football team next season and beyond.
“We all know we have to make improvements in a lot of areas, but it helps to win at the end of the season, to win your last game. It gives you a positive vibe going in (to next year),” Webster said.
The general manager said the defensive and the offensive line would be priorities in the off-season for upgrades.
“We’ve got to improve defensively, and work on our offensive line and just kind of improve overall from a talent and consistency standpoint,” Webster said.
Webster didn’t promise how aggressive the Titans would be in free agency, though he will certainly survey that market to try and improve the roster.
“That’s hard to say right now. We’ll just have to see how it goes. I would hope we would be smart in free agency and make good decisions and bring in guys that can help us win,” he said.
Titans players know what’s at stake for them and certain members of the coaching staff.
“It’s definitely the reality when you lose. Coaches jobs aren’t safe, players jobs aren’t safe and that’s just the way it is,” cornerback Jason McCourty said.
Added defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, “You take it to heart, because the way people look at the coaches is a reflection of us. If we’re not performing then that obviously means that something is going wrong. We’ve got to back up our coaches by our performances.”
The Titans have five-day windows to decide whether or not to retain running back Chris Johnson and safety Michael Griffin.
The Titans appear very likely to keep Johnson, who will have $9 million of a $10 million base salary guaranteed if he is on the roster five days after the Super Bowl.
“I’m not sure. Honestly, I don’t know,” Johnson said of the Titans’ decision. “No matter what happens, I will prepare the same way that I always prepare in the offseason and just see what happens.’
The same things holds true for Griffin, who is due a $3.5 million guaranteed base and a $1 million roster bonus, if he is with the Titans five days after the season ends. He signed a five-year, $36 million extension in the off-season after being franchised.
“I don’t know. I never even pay attention to all that,” Griffin said. “My job is to play football, and whatever they decide to do is what they decide to do. You know they say, you make your bed you have to lie in it. If I didn’t play up to their expectations and what not, then it is what it is and we’ll just go from there.”
Receiver Kenny Britt was out for a while in the fourth quarter, suffering a dislocated shoulder while trying to deliver a stiff arm to a Jaguars defender following a reception.
Trainers were able to pop the shoulder back in, and Britt finished the game.
“My shoulder went in and out. When I went to chop down on the second dude, he chopped down on it. He pushed up and chopped down on the shoulder,” Britt said.