The Tennessee Titans might not have made the splash needed to soothe the feelings of their unhappy fan base, but new Titans head coach Mike Mularkey and new general manager Jon Robinson both promised forthcoming change at their joint introductory press conference on Monday.
Robinson, who celebrated his 40th birthday Monday, left no doubt that he plans to take on the huge task of turning around a team that has gone 5-27 the past two years. He said he will draw on his 12 years with the New England Patriots to try and accomplish that.
“Our goal here is to win. Bottom line. That’s the measuring stick that all franchises are measured by,” Robinson said. “Mike and I have an aligned vision of what we want this team to look like. We want tough players, coachable players, smart players and most importantly, we want players with a team-first attitude. My role here is to ensure that we find those players. I will coach the personnel staff on the type of players that we want and identify the guys that are true fits of what we’re looking for in a Titan.”
For Mularkey, who went 2-7 as the Titans interim head coach, he views being named the permanent coach as a fresh start for himself and the organization, and promised changes to the roster, scheme and philosophy.
“I’m really thrilled to have a fresh start with this football team. I love working for this organization. I was put in a challenging position and I accepted it halfway through this past year and tried to run with it to see if I could do something to make a difference with this team and I feel like I did that,” Mularkey said. “I learned a lot in these last nine weeks. I felt like I had some ideas prior to but I learned a lot these last nine weeks of the season. I saw a lot. I saw things that needed to be changed, and I couldn’t change them. I can now. You’ll see that in a number of areas. Jon and I have not worked together before, but we will work closely together from this point on. We’ve had really very good discussions on the vision we have for this football team.
“You will see change happen, and I’m thrilled that I get a chance to do that. I’m very thankful for the opportunity and I’m ready to move forward in a positive direction.”
Titans president Steve Underwood said Mularkey’s previous interview in 2011 and his handling of the interim coaching job worked in his favor. The Titans only interviewed four candidates and two of them were on the staff from last season.
“There was already a pretty good working knowledge of Mike. We had worked with Mike once before to be a head coach,” Underwood said. “He had been our interim coach for most of the season, and we interviewed three other highly qualified candidates. I’m not really sure this comfort level you’re taking about.”
While Mularkey, who is 18-39 in his head coaching career, acknowledges that his rehire could be a tough sell to Titans fans, he asked for a chance from the fan base.
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“I understand completely,” Mularkey said. “All I ask is they give us a chance. I think that’s very important – give Jon and I a chance to build a roster they can be proud of and the city can be proud of. There’s gonna be changes from last year. 2015 is over; 2012 is over, 2004 and 05 is over. I’m talking about the now. I’m not talking about the past. There’s gonna be changes for this team to go in the right direction.”
He said he is confident that he can do the job before him.
“I’m very confident in myself and I will be confident in the guys I’m hiring. I’m a good football coach. Circumstances dictate a lot of success for people and they also dictate sometimes failure. You can’t base it all on one thing,” Mularkey said. “There’s been a number of coaches that been in the position I’ve been in that have been in the position I’ve been in that have had another chance and come back and been successful. And I’ve always felt that way. …
“I’m going to surround myself that have the same feelings I do, the same beliefs, the same coaching style. The players know me for nine weeks. They know what they’re getting. This organization knows what they’re getting. It’s not like starting brand new. I know what changes need to be made, and fortunately I get a chance to change them.”
Robinson concluded the press conference with a statement.
“If you only remember one thing from this presser, remember this, and this goes out to the fans. This is my home and you guys are my family. I’ve been a Titans fan ever since ’97 when this team moved here. We’re gonna build this team the right way. All decisions that are made will be made in the best interest of this team, your football team. Please let us earn your support,” Robinson said.