It’s been almost a week since the Tennessee Titans hired Mike Mularkey as their new head coach.
Monday saw the franchise hold a press conference to officially introduce Mularkey and new general manager Jon Robinson to the fans and media.
A few things were evident. First off, there was nothing all that different about Mularkey. He said what you would expect him to say. This isn’t more of the same. Things will change. All that good stuff.
Then there was one of the most underwhelming performances in press conference history by Titans president Steve Underwood.
What Underwood made clear was that the front office and ownership were seemingly oblivious to the fans’ outrage. He once again defended Mularkey’s career record of 18-39 (6-29 in his last 35 games), and even went as far as calling him a “quarterback whisperer.”
Yes, Mularkey has worked with talented quarterbacks like Matt Ryan and Kordell Stewart. But that’s far from “quarterback whisperer” territory.
As if that wasn’t enough, Underwood also stomped on the hearts of Titan fans (again) by stressing repeatedly that the team was not for sale. He said it over and over. The team is not for sale. The team is not for sale.
And in case you didn’t catch it, the team is not for sale.
But Underwood isn’t entirely to blame for all of this. Yet again, controlling owner Amy Adams-Strunk was nowhere to be found. That surprised no one.
If she can’t find the time to attend the NFL owners meetings, how could she possibly show up to a press conference that her own franchise is pushing as one of the most important in the team’s history?
However, despite all of the malarkey being thrown around (pun most definitely intended), something became obvious:
Robinson may actually know what he’s doing.
I wasn’t initially impressed when Robinson started speaking at the press conference. That probably had more to do with the after-effects of listening to Underwood rattle on about not understanding how fans could be upset with the hiring process.
Near the end of the press conference, Robinson gave a closing statement that guaranteed change. I still wasn’t convinced. After all, losing brings out the pessimist in you.
But then I heard him again on 104.5 The Zone’s 3HL radio show later that afternoon. And that’s where he sold me.
Robinson’s passion was clear. He wants to make this team great again. He understands the challenges that are in place, but having worked with Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots for many years, he knows what it takes to win.
The only way to win is to assemble a roster that can do just that. The Titans roster as it stands right now can’t win. That’s been proven.
Robinson has time to fix that. He’s shown the ability to draft highly-talented players like Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. He’s also shown that he knows how to put all the pieces together.
Mularkey’s new contract is for three years. That’s relatively short for a new head coach. Maybe that was the intention.
Few can argue that Mularkey is almost in an impossible spot. The roster overhaul is going to take a few years. It’s hard to see the Titans going from being the worst team in the league to a playoff spot next season. It’s just not gonna happen.
On the other hand, Robinson will have several years to get the roster how he wants it. And when that happens, there’s a good chance that he’ll have the opportunity to pick his own head coach.
I’ll say it again: Mularkey isn’t the problem. He’s a good guy and will likely fare much better than Ken Whisenhunt did during his time in Nashville. Every head coaching situation that he’s been in, it’s been a challenging situation.
Buffalo was challenging. Jacksonville was challenging. Now he’s in perhaps the most challenging position that he’s been in before.
Mularkey has without question learned from each stop. That’ll help him in his current situation going forward. But it’s difficult to imagine him being the long-term coach for this team. Especially not if Robinson builds the type of team that he wants.
Pushing a coach on a new GM usually never works. From what we’ve seen from the front office and ownership, they likely didn’t understand that. There’s a lot that they don’t know.
So although Mularkey’s future with the team may not be but for a few years, Robinson has all the skills to finally be the long-term solution for the Titans.
That is, if Strunk and company stay out of the way and let him do his job.
At this point, that may be wishful thinking.