Titans coach Mike Mularkey was in a precarious position on Saturday afternoon. Even though Tennessee went 9-7 and made the playoffs, there were thanks to the regression of Marcus Mariota and the Titans' general struggles down the stretch.
The are going to keep Mularkey as coach moving forward. Owner Amy Adams Strunk announced the news, while also saying she regretted the rumors becoming a larger thing., though, and as a result
"Our mantra all season has been to take things week by week and not get ahead of ourselves and it obviously has served us well. I regret that outside rumors gained a life of their own. No one has been a bigger supporter of Mike Mularkey than I have over the last two-plus seasons," Strunk said in a statement released by the team. "Mike and [GM] Jon [Robinson] have changed the culture of our team and organization and I am so happy we have been able to bring success on the field to our fans - winning 19 games over the last two seasons, including our first playoff win in nine years.
"Just to eliminate any distractions moving forward, Mike Mularkey is our head coach and will be our head coach moving forward. We still have work to be done, including this week, but I am looking forward to the journey."
At one point, there was a 95+ percent chance of the Titans losing on Saturday, with the Chiefs leading 21-3 at halftime and Tennessee barely able to produce any offense. It looked like Mularkey's days might be numbered. But the Titans stormed back, won the game and saved their coach's job.
Mularkey said after the game he did not appreciate the rumors and said that hearing talk about his job security leading up to a playoff game was "ridiculous," a phrase he repeated twice when asked.
"I don't think it's fair for my family," Mularkey said. "And if it has an effect on my family, it has an effect on me. So, yeah, I'd say it had an effect on me."
In the normal course of business, an employee would go to his boss and say "hey, there's chatter about me getting fired, am I getting fired?" or might just assume that the boss could come to the employee and say "hey, you're not getting fired!" Nothing of the sort happened with Mularkey.
"No, I haven't had any support to say that I was [keeping the job] so, no, I just assumed the worst," Mularkey said.
The situation is particularly delicate because it's largely believed that Robinson would want to bring in one of his old New England Patriots buddies, either defensive coordinator Matt Patricia or offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, both of whom are expected to leave New England this offseason. Robinson previously worked in New England.
There's an argument to be made the Titans should STILL make a move even after winning a playoff game. They are likely to go to New England next weekend in the divisional round (pending Bills-Jaguars; a Buffalo win would send the Bills to New England and the Titans to Pittsburgh) and likely to get run out of town. They will be a double-digit underdog.
But there's no chance of making a move now, not after Strunk's statement and the win over the Chiefs. Mularkey is there to stay, for better or worse.