The Titans 2016 head coaching search has long been suspected to be a sham as promoting interim head coach Mike Mularkey was rumored to be a prerequisite for any GM candidate at the time and now we have confirmation of that via the coach himself. From the latest episode of the Ross Tucker Football Podcast:
“I was actually hired basically before the GM there, I’m not even sure he’s aware of that, but I was hired before he was even hired.”
If you remember, the Titans supposedly interviewed four coaches for the job back in January of 2016: Doug Marrone, Teryl Austin, Ray Horton, and Mularkey. They announced Mularkey as the new head coach just days after Robinson’s introduction so it was never really that hard to buy that Robinson had little, if any, input into the coaching search.
Mularkey goes on to say that his three year contract “didn’t show a lot of support from the very beginning” and that’s true. The “standard” length for a head coaching contract in the NFL is generally four or five years. Some highly sought after candidates can command six, like new Panthers coach Matt Rhule, but a three year deal for a head coach is pretty rare.
Despite the highly questionable process, the Titans arrived at a pretty good result with Mularkey, going 18-14 over his two years and winning their first playoff game since 2003 under his watch. Mularkey added that he was proud of the work his staff did in Tennessee.
“Our staff there... we did the hard part of building that thing because the franchise was in disarray and to turn an NFL franchise completely around into a competitive team that believe they can win every week was a serious credit to the staff that I had. I’m very proud of what they’re doing now, but I think we did the hard part to get them to where they are now.”
The way the Mularkey era is remembered among the fan base is interesting. Many mock him and offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie for their stubborn offensive approach, but failing to credit him for the remarkable turnaround from the 2-14 and 3-13 horror shows of 2014 and 2015 is a mistake. That staff, along with Robinson and owner Amy Adams-Strunk, deserve a ton of credit for changing the culture around the Titans franchise.
Do I think they were right to go get Mike Vrabel? Of course, but that doesn’t mean we have to discredit the run that Mularkey had here.
Mularkey was also very complimentary of Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, who served as tight ends coach on his staff and was one of the very few holdovers who were retained by Mike Vrabel.
“I recommended him to Mike Vrabel. I knew Arthur would have success, I didn’t know it would be so quick, but he’s got the formula that I think it takes to win in the NFL.”
You can listen to the entire episode here:
Why did Mike Mularkey retire from coaching at age 58?— Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) June 10, 2020
How does he view his unique 3X stint as a "short-term" head coach and the circumstances surrounding those situations with the @BuffaloBills, @Jaguars, & @Titans?