There is a lot of talk around #TwoTonedTwitter that the Titans should have never fired Mike Mularkey. You didn’t hear it much in the first month of the season, but it has really become a topic in the last 6 weeks (of course not as much in the stretch between the Cowboys game and the Colts game). That line of thinking is ridiculous to me.
Now, let me say this from the top, it is a different discussion all together (#insertairplaneclip) about if Mike Vrabel was the right guy to hire or not. I think that is a fair topic to discuss, but it is irrelevant when talking about whether or not Mularkey should have been fired.
I understand the Titans had back-to-back winning seasons under Mularkey. I also understand that they won a playoff game under Mularkey last season. What the people that don’t think Mularkey should have been fired don’t understand is that last year was the ceiling for a Mularkey coached team. They were never going to be better than the 5th or 6th best team in the AFC.
How do I know that? Well, I am glad you asked. I know that because he refused to change the way he approached the game. He and Terry Robiskie were very much of the old school that said we are going to do what we do regardless of what the other team does. How do I know that? Just go back to the Browns game last year. Cleveland came into that game top 10 against the run on defense and bottom 5 against the pass. They were also missing Jason McCourty in that game who was playing really well at the time. Anyone with common sense would say that you come out throwing in that game. You take advantage of a terrible secondary, score points, and then you can try to establish your run game when you are trying to run out the clock.
What did Mularkey and Robiskie do? They ran the ball 31 times. 14 of those runs came in the first half. That’s just dumb, but that was the way they wanted to run their offense. YOU HAVE TO ESTABLISH THE RUN!!!1
Mularkey also did nothing to tailor the offense to Marcus Mariota. Listen, we can debate Mariota all day long, but to win in this league you have to shape your offense to the quarterback. Look at what Sean McVay has done with Jared Goff. Look at what Andy Reid has done with Patrick Mahomes.
In today’s NFL you need a coaching staff that is going to identify the weakness of the team they are facing and attack it AND maximize the talent of the players on the roster. Bill Belichick has done that with his Patriots roster for the last 15-18 years. Sure, he has had Tom Brady and that makes thing easier, but he won 11 games with Matt Cassel at quarterback. That’s great coaching.
Head coach is the second most important person in the organization behind the quarterback. To be an elite team you need an elite coach. Mularkey just wasn’t ever going to be that. It’s not like teams have lined up to hire him since the Titans let him go. The only nibble he has even had to my knowledge was from Hue Jackson in Cleveland. That really tells you everything you need to know.
There is a lot that is fair to criticize Jon Robinson for with the 2018 Titans, possibly including the coach he decided to hire (but it is still way too early to do that in my opinion), but he absolutely made the right call to fire Mularkey- who never should have been hired in the first place.