Less than 12 hours after apparently being in line for a contract extension, Mike Mularkey is out as head coach of the Tennessee Titans.
The announcement was made this morning, two days after the Titans were eliminated in the AFC Divisional Playoffs by the New England Patriots. The Titans have called a 1 p.m. press conference with general manager Jon Robinson today.
The move likely opens the possibility of the Titans pursuing Josh McDaniels of the Patriots as their new head coach. McDaniels and Robinson worked together with the Patriots for several years.
“I want to thank Mike Mularkey for his contributions to our franchise over his tenure with our organization,” controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk said in a statement. “He took over our team during a low moment and together with Jon built a solid foundation for our franchise. I appreciated that Mike devoted himself to this team and the community.
“In fact, we did discuss extending his future with our team over the past week, but in those discussions about the direction of the team, it became evident that we saw different paths to achieve greater success.
“It is certainly unfortunate that we couldn’t find enough common ground. I generally believe that continuity is the best path for success, but I also view this as an important moment for our football team as we try to make that next step to sustained success on the field. Jon will begin the search immediately to identify that person.”
Mularkey leaves Tennessee with an overall 21-22 record, including a 19-15 over the past two seasons with the interim tag removed.
On Sunday, Mularkey had his 2017 season ending press conference and announced plans to keep his coaching staff intact for 2018, including beleaguered offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie.
At the heart of the matter apparently is the regression of quarterback Marcus Mariota this season, as he was coming off surgery for a broken leg and set a career-high with 15 interceptions.
If the plan is to go after McDaniels, the Titans had hoped to move quickly in order to avoid AFC South rival Indianapolis from getting him as its head coach.
Mularkey’s departure also means a likely housecleaning of the coaching staff, including defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.