Much has been said of late about the inadequacies of the Tennessee Titans during the last few weeks of the season. With all of that, the one constant is the disdain for head coach Mike Mularkey.
Everyone is finally realizing that Mike Mularkey has some issues as a head coach. These were all brought to light way before he was hired as the head coach of the Tennessee Titans. The problem is most Titans fans were blinded by the limited success he had as an interim head coach, and ownership was as well. In fact, Mularkey was essentially forced upon Jon Robinson when he took over as the general manager in 2016. There could not have been a less inspiring candidate to take over full time head coaching duties than Mularkey, at the time.
Fast forward to present day. The Titans stand at 8-6 with two games left to go in the season. They are currently on a two-game losing streak and losing sight of the potential to win the AFC South. The team has looked uninspired and, frankly, lost on the field at times. Also, the last two losses were to teams with a combined 10-18 record on the season. Needless to say, it is time to panic with the playoffs only two weeks away. Keep in mind if the Titans lose the last two games of the season they will be in the same position as last year. It is the limbo zone. They are too good for a top draft pick and too bad for a playoff run. It is the worst spot to be in as a team.
Mike Mularkey’s Resume
First off, this has nothing to do with the man’s character and his ability to be a human on this planet. Mike Mularkey seems like the nicest guy in the world and his heart is clearly in the right place. With that being said, this is his third stop as a head coach, and the results speak for themselves.
Mularkey’s first head coaching job was with the Buffalo Bills. That is not an easy place to succeed as a head coach, but he got the job after having success as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive coordinator. The first season in Buffalo went well with a 9-7 record. Unfortunately, that team did not make the playoffs and that was the closest Mularkey ever got to being a playoff head coach.
His second season in Buffalo did not go as swimmingly. The team ended with a 5-11 record and missed the playoffs for the second year. Now, when teams start well in the first year of a head coach, there are high expectations going into the second season. The Bills did not come close to reaching those expectations. At the end of the season, Mularkey left the Bills after his offense was ranked 24th in the NFL. He resigned as head coach and was not actually fired. From there, it took six years for Mularkey to get another head coaching opportunity.
Mike Mularkey was hired as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2012. As a whole, the Jaguars went 2-14 under his leadership. Keep in mind that the Tennessee Titans are in the same division as Jacksonville. They saw Mularkey and the Jaguars twice that year. Maybe one of the redeeming qualities for Mularkey was that one of his two wins was against the Titans. So for the Adams family, Mularkey was a .500 coach. After his one season in Jacksonville, Mularkey was fired.
Third time is the charm, right? In a results based business, it is really difficult to understand how Mike Mularkey received another opportunity to be a head coach. Well, it makes some sense based on how Mularkey got the job originally in Tennessee. When Ken Whisenhunt was fired after starting the 2015 season 1-6, there were not a lot of coaching options on the roster. One person that had head coaching experience was Mike Mularkey. It was all right to let Mularkey coach the Titans to close that season. The problem is he did not do much better than Whisenhunt would. He finished that season with a 2-7 interim record.
This is when things got weird. Somehow, Mularkey showed enough to ownership in that time to be hired as the full time head coach. It is like the Adams family was looking for another losing season. Granted, the Titans have actually won some games under Mularkey, but it still does not make sense why he was hired. The 9-7 season in his first full season as the Titans head coach was frustrating because they did not make the playoffs. This season has a better opportunity, but the Tennessee Titans do not look like a playoff team at this moment in time.
Overall, the frustration with head coach Mike Mularkey is completely warranted. Tennessee is playing uninspired football and the offense has looked anemic. There are definitely injuries that play a factor in the inadequacies of the Titans offense and defense. The talent is there, though, and it is up to the coach to get the most out of that talent. Right now, Mularkey has the team struggling to compete with some of the worst teams in the NFL. That will be a problem going forward. The Titans will most likely make the playoffs and Mularkey will most likely be back next season. The problem is he just is not a great coach.