Titans vs. Panthers: What’s different since last meeting in 2015?
By Brady Akins
Leading the Titans on the sidelines against the Carolina Panthers was not the same guy they started the year with. Interim head coach Mike Mularkey was brought onto the Titans coaching staff in 2014 as the tight ends coach. Mularkey was promoted to the interim head coaching position after the team fired their previous head coach, Ken Whisenhunt.
Whisenhunt was let go after a 20-6 loss to the Houston Texans that took the team to 1-6 on the season. In Mularkey’s first game as coach with the Titans, the team was able to beat the Saints in overtime in Mariota’s comeback from injury.
Alongside Mularkey was offensive coordinator Jason Michael, who had been given control of the play-calling when Whisenhunt was let go. Ray Horton began the season as the Titans’ defensive coordinator and maintained his position with the team throughout the season.
While the Titans coaching staff underwent a major shift just two weeks before the game against Carolina, the Panthers coaching room had the advantage of consistency.
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera entered the Titans game in the middle of his fifth year as Carolina’s head coach. While things were going well for Rivera in 2015, he had struggled at the start of his tenure with back-to-back losing seasons, before breaking through in 2013 with a 12-4 record.
Helping Rivera for the Panthers were defensive coordinator Sean McDermott and offensive coordinator Mike Shula. McDermott had built a powerhouse defense in Carolina that finished top 10 in yards allowed in the NFL four times since his hire in 2011. Shula, on the other hand, had never coordinated an offense that was within the NFL’s top 10 in total yards, but was on his way to coordinating the league’s top-scoring offense by the end of 2015.