Early in the process of their head coach and general manager search, TitanInsider was told by multiple sources that the Titans’ preference in their coaching search was to keep interim coach Mike Mularkey and name him the permanent coach.
The plan also was to pair, per league sources, Mularkey with a young general manager, which now is in place with the agreement with Buccaneers director of player personnel Jon Robinson on Thursday.
Also, according to a league source, one of the other top candidates told the Titans brass when the subject of retaining Mularkey was brought up, that he would interview him, but also felt he needed the freedom to explore other candidates and choose accordingly.
That apparently was one of the sticking points that led to him being passed over.
The question now becomes whether or not Robinson, a Tennessee native from Union City, took the job on the condition that he had no say in who the next head coach would be.
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In terms of Mularkey, if the Titans follow through and hire him as the permanent coach, it could be a tough sell to a fanbase that has watched the team struggle to just five wins in the past two seasons.
But Mularkey scores points with ownership on a number of fronts, despite going 2-7 after taking over for the fired Ken Whisenhunt.
Though it was stipulated that winning games would be a big part of the evaluation process, Mularkey has nonetheless accomplished a number of things on the checklist that he was told to do when hired on an interim basis. No. 1 on that list was to better protect quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Another thing was to reduce the penalties and restore some semblance of balance to an offense that had become too pass happy under Whisenhunt. Mularkey has done those things and also brought a change in attitude around St. Thomas Sports Park. He brought a calming and steady hand to a team that had been put off by Whisenhunt’s abrasive and dictatorial style.