NASHVILLE, Tenn. — New Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said Monday that he likes the high personal character of his assistants and their teaching skills.
Whisenhunt, who was hired on Jan. 13, met with his entire coaching staff for the first time at Saint Thomas Sports Park on Monday.
“It’s nice having some guys that you’ve coached with or worked with before, but it doesn’t feel like the band is back together. This is a different staff,” Whisenhunt said. “We’ve got a number of new guys that have never worked together before. I think the one common theme is they’re all very qualified. They’re all good teachers, they’re good men. I’m excited about this group.”
The new staff members are: offensive coordinator Jason Michael, defensive coordinator Ray Horton, offensive line coach Bob Bostad, quarterbacks coach John McNulty, tight ends coach Mike Mularkey, assistant receivers coach Kevin Patullo, defensive line coach Giff Smith, linebackers coach Lou Spanos and defensive backs coach Louie Cioffi.
They have joined returnees: Nate Kaczor (special teams), Steve Hoffman (assistant special teams), Sylvester Croom (running backs), Shawn Jefferson (receivers), Steve Brown (assistant secondary), Jonathan Gannon (defensive assistant) and Arthur Smith (offensive assistant).
It will be April before teams are allowed to hold organized team activities where coaches can work directly with their pupils, but the staff will use its time in between to become more familiar with each other, learn the roster through film study and develop a plan for free agency (in March) and the NFL Draft (in May).
Whisenhunt said there’s not really a timetable for blending a staff.
“You never know how that’s going to be, but every one of these guys was hired with the idea of chemistry, and how that all fits together is an important piece,” Whisenhunt said. “Would I like for it to be tomorrow? Sure, you would, but it may not be. You’ve got to work in a room together for a time period, you’ve got to get a feel for each other, you’ve got to have arguments, you’ve got to go through all the normal things you do, but I’m very confident that we have the right guys that are going to have that chemistry.
“I think our guys are excited about the opportunity here. It’s a great city,” Whisenhunt continued. “A lot of these guys have been with me or know what a tough place to play this is when the fans are rocking, and that’s our goal, to get our fans behind us, make it a great place to have home-field advantage and get a playoff game here.”
Whisenhunt previously worked with Michael (in 2013 with San Diego), Horton (in 2011-12 at Arizona and 2004-06 with Pittsburgh), Cioffi (2011-12 in Arizona), McNulty (2009-12 in Arizona), Mularkey (2001-03 with Pittsburgh) and Spanos (2001-06 in Pittsburgh).
“We have guys that have Super Bowl rings, so when you’ve been there, done that, you kind of, maybe it gives you an added sense of respect as you walk in, but you’ve still got to earn it from them, but they know, ‘He’s been to the Super Bowl, he’s been to multiple Super Bowls.’ I think that helps.”
Horton won (XXVLII with Dallas) and lost (XXIII with Cincinnati) Super Bowls as a player, and has won two (XL and XLIII with Pittsburgh) and lost one (XLV with Pittsburgh) as an assistant coach. He spent the past season as defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns, where he worked with Cioffi, who said he’s excited to reunite with Whisenhunt and Horton.
“I had the opportunity to work for Coach Whiz in Arizona. I believe in him. I think he’s an excellent teacher, an excellent motivator,” Cioffi said. “I think he’s an outstanding football coach and an outstanding person. To be able to be reunited with him for me and my family is a tremendous opportunity.
“I think this is a great staff because some of us have worked together, but others have competed against each other in the same division,” Cioffi added. “Those guys were in Pittsburgh when I was in Cincinnati, so being able to work with some guys, but also being able to compete against them, you kind of know what kind of coaches, what kind of guys you’re getting involved with and I think this will be a tight unit, a good staff of good teachers and we’ll get the most out of our players.”