NASHVILLE, Tenn. — There are sure to be contrasts in Tennessee’s offense with Dowell Loggains as offensive coordinator in the final five games of the season, but an element of continuity may be most important.
Titans coach Mike Munchak promoted the 32-year-old Loggains from coaching Titans quarterbacks to replace Chris Palmer, who was in his second season with Tennessee and 21st in the NFL, on Monday. Munchak said there are multiple reasons why Loggains is ready for the opportunity.
There is also logic. Loggains has been with the Titans since 2006 and been working closely with quarterback Jake Locker since the Titans drafted the second-year pro with the eighth pick in 2011.
Locker is preparing to make his seventh NFL start against Houston (10-1) on Sunday at LP Field, and the Titans (4-7) hope the familiarity between Loggains and Locker will ease the transition and yield a late-season surge in the standings.
“I just think (Loggains is) very comfortable in the position,” Munchak said Wednesday. “I think he knows the players very well, the receivers, the tight ends, our strengths and our weaknesses. Obviously, he has a great relationship with the quarterbacks and has a great feel for what they like to do, what they’re good at, how they see the game.”
Loggains began installing the game plan after he was promoted. Wednesday’s practice was the first in which the Titans worked on the elements he added, and he’s scheduled to make his first interview with reporters since his promotion on Thursday.
Locker, who will be making his third start since returning from a shoulder injury against Houston on Sept. 30, said the excitement that Loggains has about the opportunity transferred a burst of energy to the players after a disappointing loss at Jacksonville. Locker said he appreciated the relationship he had with Palmer and the knowledge that the veteran shared, but working through the change with Loggains will be helped by their mutual familiarity.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Dowell in the last few years as well,” Locker said. “He’s very intelligent when it comes to the game of football, very eager to learn and grow as a coach. It’s fun to work with him. I enjoy working with him. He sees things really similar to the way I do. I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve learned a lot from him over the last couple of years, and I look forward to continuing to learn from him.”
Locker said the short time frame will not lend itself to wholesale changes, but it is likely that the option routes that were a big part of Palmer’s system that implemented Run ’N Shoot concepts likely will be less prevalent in Loggains’ scheme.
Locker said the most important thing for the Titans’ offense will be to establish consistency.
“We’ve shown flashes of how talented and how explosive we can be,” Locker said. “We’ve just got to be more consistent with it.”
Tennessee repeatedly moved the ball down the field against Jacksonville, going inside the Jaguars’ 25-yard line six times but got just one touchdown out of it in Sunday’s 24-19 loss.
Locker’s shoulder injury in his first start against the Texans worsened an injury he suffered to his left, non-throwing shoulder in the season opener. Locker was hurt early in the game on an unimpeded blitz by Houston’s Glover Quin and missed the next five games until he received medical clearance to return to action. Munchak said Locker has done a better job of adjusting the protections and avoiding direct hits.
Munchak, a Hall of Fame guard and former offensive line coach said Loggains’ understanding of the protections will help him call the game.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how the game goes for him. I’m excited for him,” Munchak said. “I think today he did a good job putting the game plan in, I think we have some good ideas. We’ll see how it goes. I think we’re excited about the plan. We thought we had a good plan last time, but unfortunately we turned the ball over and lost a quarterback. Some bad things happened early in that game last time. Hopefully it’ll be a lot different this Sunday.”
Tight end Jared Cook said the scheme that Loggains is installing had similarities to the scheme of former offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger, who passed away Sept. 30, 2011, from a rare form of cancer.
“It’s exciting to see the kind of plays that we’re bringing to the table and the things that we’re practicing,” Cook said. “It’s kind of like ’Dinger’s offense, which is pretty cool, but it’s going to be a different story on Sunday. We’re going to go and see what kinds of plays are called.”
Cook said the coaching change reinforced a message to offensive players.
“I just feel like we have to improve offensively, and I think that was Coach Munchak’s reason behind it,” Cook said. “Our intention is to improve and get better as an offense.”
Added wide receiver Kendall Wright, who leads NFL rookies and is the team leader with 48 receptions: “I think everybody will notice a difference come Sunday, so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Munchak said he determined it was time to try a different approach in attacking opponents.
“I felt it was time to do something different. Once I realized that, I think it was time to make the change,” Munchak said. “We’re trying to win football games, and I think this gives us the best chance to win the next five football games.”
SectionsFeatured Story, NFL, Sports, Tennessee Titans
TopicsClarksville, Clarksville Sports Network, Dowell Loggains, football, Jake Locker, Kenny Britt, Matt Hasselbeck, Mike Munchak, NFL, Tennessee, Tennessee Titans, Titans