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Titans start coaching search with Jay Gruden interview

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The Tennessee Titans left the Mike Munchak era in the rearview mirror Monday, lining up interviews with candidates to be their next head coach.

First up is Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, who is scheduled to interview Tuesday, according to sources familiar with the situation.

Titans general manager Ruston Webster also requested permission to meet with Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, sources said.

All four men are popular candidates for other head-coaching vacancies, but the Titans expect their search to last weeks, not days.

“I would like somebody that I can work with similar to the way I could work with Mike,” Webster said on Saturday when announcing that Munchak was out after three seasons. “I think it is important to me that that person has a system that he believes in and that we can draft and sign players to that system. I think that is very important.

“I would like somebody that is going to work with our current players and continue to develop them and turn them into the best players they can be.”

Under NFL rules, coaches on teams still in the playoffs, such as Whisenhunt with the Chargers, are eligible to be interviewed for head coaching jobs this week, but they cannot be hired with the season ongoing.

Interviews with coaches still in the playoffs have to take place in the coach’s city.

The Bengals were eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday, freeing up Zimmer and Gruden to travel for interviews.

Gruden and Whisenhunt are attractive candidates because of their offensive minds.

Gruden, the younger brother of ESPN analyst Jon Gruden, has been praised for his work with Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. Gruden also has a background with Webster — Gruden was an offensive assistant with the Buccaneers for four years while Webster worked in player personnel and scouting.

Gruden interviewed for head coaching openings the past two off-seasons but wound up returning to the Bengals. On Monday, the Detroit Lions, Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings also requested permission from the Bengals to speak with him.

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