Posted on January 15, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
Add one more to the list of head coaching vacancies in the NFL this offseason. Less than 48 hours after being knocked out of the Divisional Round of the playoffs, the Tennessee Titans have parted ways with head coach Mike Mularkey. The decision to move on appears to be mutual between Mularkey and the team.
“I want to thank Mike Mularkey for his contributions to our franchise over his tenure with our organization,” Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk said in a statement. “He took over our team during a low moment and together with (Titans GM) Jon (Robinson) built a solid foundation for our franchise. I appreciated that Mike devoted himself to this team and the community.”
Monday’s announcement ends what has been a whirlwind month for Mularkey. Tennessee struggled down the stretch, losing three straight games to drop them from 8-4 to 8-7. That losing streak brought about speculation that Mularkey was on the hot seat. Of course, Tennessee beat the Jaguars in Week 17 to secure a playoff spot and then upset the Chiefs in the Wild Card round.
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However, it wasn’t until after the win over the Chiefs that Adams Strunk voiced public support for Mularkey to help dispel the rumors that his job was in jeopardy. Mularkey was vocal in expressing his disappointment that he didn’t receive more public support from ownership sooner.
Nevertheless, it appeared as if Mularkey’s job was safe after the comeback win over the Chiefs. Despite the 35-14 loss to the Patriots, there were reports on Sunday that Mularkey and the Titans were working on a contract extension. However, those talks did not lead to an extension with Mularkey entering the final year of his contract in 2018.
“It is certainly unfortunate that we couldn’t find enough common ground,” said Adams Strunk. “I generally believe that continuity is the best path for success, but I also view this as an important moment for our football team as we try to make that next step to sustained success on the field. Jon will begin the search immediately to identify that person.”
The Titans reportedly wanted to make changes to Mularkey’s coaching staff. But when Mularkey resisted, talks broke down and both sides agreed it was best to part ways. The Titans are now the first NFL team in 15 years to make a head coaching change after winning a playoff game.
“We did discuss extending (Mularkey’s) future with our team over the past week,” explained Adams Strunk. “But in those discussions about the direction of the team, it became evident that we saw different paths to achieve greater success.”
Tennessee is now one of five teams in search of a head coach after both the Bears and Raiders were quick to fill their coaching vacancies. Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has already emerged as the favorite to become Tennessee’s new coach. McDaniels has recently been linked with the Colts. However, McDaniels reportedly prefers the Titans over the Colts because of the presence of Marcus Mariota and the uncertainty over Andrew Luck’s health.
As for Mularkey, it’ll be interesting to see if he becomes a candidate for any of the other openings. His earlier head coaching jobs in Buffalo and Jacksonville to not go well. But Mularkey was 9-7 with the Titans in each of the past two seasons. That recent success could make him an intriguing candidate for teams like the Colts or Cardinals that are still searching for a new head coach.