The Titans promoted interim head coach Mike Mularkey to the full-time job, the team announced Saturday.
Mularkey, now on his third head-coaching job, isn't going to fire up a fan base desperate for a winner -- he's 18-39 in his career as a head coach after going 2-7 in 2015 with Tennessee.
“The vision Mike presented for our football team during this search as well as the character, integrity, and leadership skills he displayed during the last two months of the season makes him the right coach for the Tennessee Titans,” Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk said. “Mike is a quality coach and an outstanding person who will help us build this team the right way. He has experience as a head coach and a track record for developing young quarterbacks and dynamic offenses, and he also brings continuity for our franchise quarterback.
"We understand this may take time as we rebuild the roster and bring in new coaches for Mike’s staff, but we believe he has the experience and expertise to build a consistent winner.”
Here are three things to know about the hire:
1. Bad Track Record: The Titans just went 5-27 over the past two seasons, managing to secure a No. 2 overall pick in 2015 and a No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. The solution for their problems? Hiring a guy with an 18-39 career record as a head coach.
Mularkey had success his first season with the Bills, going 9-7 in 2004 but was fired after going 5-11 in 2005. He resurfaced as a head coach in 2012 with the Jaguars but was fired after just one two-win season. Mularkey took over for Ken Whisenhunt when his boss was fired just four games into the 2015 season by the Titans and Mularkey went 2-7 down the stretch.
So, yeah, Mularkey is 5-27 in his last 32 games as a coach.
2. Continuity: It's a theme we've been hammering in these coaching searches, because teams seem very willing to go with the status quo this offseason. The Colts kept Chuck Pagano, the Saints kept Sean Payton, the Lions kept Jim Caldwell, the Eagles are bringing back Doug Pederson, the Buccaneers promoted Dirk Koetter, the Giants promoted Ben McAdoo and now the Titans are going with Mularkey.
Part of the reason? Quarterback Marcus Mariota. There was some thought Chip Kelly could land with his former protege, but with the Chipster inking a deal with the 49ers, the Titans ultimately decided they wanted their franchise quarterback to have the same coach two years in a row. (Kind of.)
Two big reasons for Titans hiring Mularkey hire, per club sources: 1) Ownership loves him 2) Stability for Marcus Mariota— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) January 16, 2016
Mariota sounds so excited he just can't hide it.
“I am excited for him. He is definitely a man that deserves the job,’’ Mariota said. “I look forward to being able to work with him. He is very excited. We are going to focus on what is going on now and finding ways to get better. I can’t wait to get there and work.”
Mariota can say all the nice things he wants but it's hard to imagine the Titans' fans are really excited about this move.
3. Bigger Issues: Mariota's a stud -- it's unfathomable the Titans would take maybe the best available job (the Buccaneers and Giants gig was maybe better depending on who you ask) and as such you'd think ownership and management could go out there and land a big hire.
Instead, they settled for Mularkey. And that's exactly what this hire is. It's an uninspiring settle.
Why would the Titans do that? There's definitely some money issues at play here.
First of all, they're still paying Whiz (now the Chargers offensive coordinator) some money, unless he's got bad offset language in his contract.
Second of all, they're also dealing with franchise instability. Rumors of a possible sale for the franchise continue to swirl -- it's totally possible the Titans want to keep things simple and consistent and not complex when it comes to potentially selling them off. Hiring a big-name coach and giving him a ton of power might create issues for a future owner. Promoting Mularkey? Not an issue for a new regime.
It really wouldn't be surprising to see the Titans with another top-5 pick next season as well.