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When NFL teams went shopping for head coaches last offseason, they showed a decided preference for candidates with a background on the offensive side of the football.

In fact, seven of the eight new hires for 2013 were offensive minds.

Three of the offensive hires — Andy Reid in Kansas City, Chip Kelly in Philadelphia and Mike McCoy in San Diego — guided their team to the playoffs this season. Two others — Bruce Arians in Arizona and Marc Trestman in Chicago — fell just short of the postseason.

The lone new head coach hired for 2013 with a defensive background was Gus Bradley in Jacksonville. He lost his first eight games before finishing 4-12 with a talent-depleted team.

Will the Titans continue last season's trend as they seek a replacement for Mike Munchak?

There's no guarantee that will happen. After all, even a defensive-minded head coach can hire a good offensive coordinator.

But based on the inexperience of the Titans at quarterback, the question marks ahead at running back and the youth on the offensive line, it wouldn't be a shock to see general manager Ruston Webster turn to a new head coach with an offensive background.

"I think he would want to hire a guy that has offensive experience, especially in dealing with quarterbacks," said Gil Brandt, who spent three decades as player personnel director for the Cowboys and is now an analyst for NFL.com.

"That doesn't mean he has to be a quarterbacks coach, but I don't think he shouldn't be a line coach either. So if you can find somebody that's an offensive guy and is knowledgeable with quarterbacks, I think that's the kind of guy you're looking for."

Jeff Diamond, a former Titans president and Vikings general manager, also said it would be logical for the Titans to look for an offensive mind.

"We saw a lot of that in the head coaching hires last year, with people like Marc Trestman in Chicago working with Jay Cutler, and Mike McCoy in San Diego, who's done really good things with Philip Rivers," said Diamond, currently a sports consultant and radio host for WNSR-AM.

"We'll see how it all shakes out. It doesn't mean the new guy can't be a defensive guy. But it just seems like if it is a defensive guy, he better have a heck of an offensive coordinator."

Here are three good reasons for the Titans to go with an offensive mind as their new coach and three good reasons why defense is the better way to go:

Offensive coach

It's where the game is going. The NFL has set records for touchdowns in each of the past two years, and the league produced a record 11,985 points this season. Eleven NFL teams scored at least 400 points this season, topping the previous record of nine in 2008.

The league's rules regarding violent hits overall and less physical play in the secondary specifically have boosted passing attacks, making it harder for defensive-minded teams to dominate.

Eight of the league's top-10 offensive teams made the playoffs this year; only five of the top-10 defensive teams did.

Quarterback questions. There probably will be a need for plenty of quarterback developing in Nashville in the years to come.

Assuming Jake Locker returns to full health after his foot injury, he'll still be adjusting to his third coordinator in four seasons. In addition, after just 18 NFL starts, Locker is still very much a work in progress.

If the Titans wind up drafting a quarterback this year, the situation will be much the same. A young player at the most critical position on the field will need plenty of coaching.

Youth on offense. Starting quarterback isn't the only inexperienced position for the Titans. Two of the starting offensive linemen, guard Chance Warmack and center Brian Schwenke, will be entering their second seasons in 2014.

Two of the top three receivers, Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter, have a combined three years of experience. And if the Titans choose to part with Chris Johnson, they may well have a rookie running back getting a lot of action.

In other words, there will be plenty of coaching opportunities on offense.

Defensive coach

Untapped potential. The Titans have spent a lot of high draft picks on defenders over the past few years, but players haven't always lived up to their billing.

Derrick Morgan, for instance, doesn't have the sack totals one might expect from a first-round defensive end. Then there are the linebackers —third-rounder Akeem Ayers, second-rounder Zach Brown, third-rounder Zaviar Gooden — who didn't make much of an impact this season.

Would a new defensive coordinator alone get the best out of these players, or would it be best to have a new defensive head coach as well?

The Andrew Luck factor. Peyton Manning led the Colts to seven AFC South titles during an eight-year stretch. The Titans have to do all they can to avoid another run of dominance by Manning's successor, Luck, who led the Colts to their first post-Manning AFC South title this year.

It's hard to imagine the Titans outscoring Luck's Colts twice a year in the immediate future, so maybe the best idea is to find a coach who can slow him down.

Secondary questions. The secondary was arguably the Titans' strongest position this season, with cornerback Alterraun Verner earning a trip to the Pro Bowl and safety Bernard Pollard leading the team in tackles.

But what happens to the group next year if both Verner and Pollard leave via free agency? Will Coty Sensabaugh be ready to handle Verner's spot if necessary? Will Michael Griffin's play suffer if Pollard doesn't return?

A defensive-minded head coach is more likely to make sure a position of strength wouldn't deteriorate into a soft spot — even with the potential departures.

Reach John Glennon at 615-259-8262 or jglennon@tennessean.com.

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