NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans hired Broncos assistant Mike Heimerdinger as offensive coordinator Thursday, his second stint with the team after spending the past two seasons in Denver.
Heimerdinger had a successful five-year run as the Titans offensive coordinator from 2000-04. A formal announcement will be made at a news conference Friday morning.
"Mike was at the top of my list and we are fortunate he was available to come back," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said in a statement. "We know each other very well and he is without a doubt the right person to help the offense take the next step."
Heimerdinger takes over an offense that was one of the NFL's worst this season. The Titans are hoping he will jump-start what was a vanilla scoring attack headed by quarterback Vince Young, who threw nearly twice as many interceptions as touchdown passes this season.
Players and coaches say Heimerdinger could help improve an offense that finished 27th in passing in 2007 and was last in the league in touchdown passes and red-zone efficiency.
Guard Benji Olson, a 10-year veteran who was still mulling whether or not to retire, said Heimerdinger's first tenure in Tennessee was productive.
"Dinger was very good at exploiting things in the secondary and opening up the passing game," Olson said prior to the announcement.
Heimerdinger replaces Norm Chow, who was fired Tuesday even though Tennessee reached the playoffs for the first time since 2003.
Chow wasn't able to develop Young liked many in Tennessee had hoped. The Titans fared well in Chow's second season in 2006 when Young was the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year. But Young struggled last season, throwing nine touchdown passes and 17 interceptions.
The Titans expect Heimerdinger to change that.
Tennessee running backs coach Sherman Smith said Heimerdinger's return would be a welcome one.
"We know his strengths as a coach. He knows the offense and knows the coaches and can help us win," Smith said.
The past two seasons in Denver, Heimerdinger held the title of assistant head coach and worked with the offense.
He helped quarterback Jay Cutler, drafted behind Young in 2006, move into the starting role as a rookie and a full-time starter entering this season. Cutler ranked fifth in the AFC in passer rating in 2007, with an 88.1 rating, while throwing for 3,497 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Heimerdinger originally joined the Titans as offensive coordinator in 2000, supervising the maturation of quarterback Steve McNair. The highlight was the 2003 season, when the Titans scored the second-highest point total in franchise history (435) and McNair earned NFL co-MVP honors.