So there are already media asking if Tennessee Titans coach Mike Mularkey is on the hot seat after four games?
He was asked that very question in Monday’s press conference, and his response was to reiterate that the Titans have shown improvement and are close to breaking through with more wins.
I’ll cut to the chase here. This just in: Mularkey is not on the hot seat. Nor should he be at this juncture.
Look, I understand that Mularkey wasn’t the most popular choice for the permanent head coaching job after going 2-7 a year ago as interim coach when Ken Whisenhunt was fired.
But Mularkey was the hire made by owner Amy Adams Strunk, president Steve Underwood and new general manager Jon Robinson to take the reins of the team and try to rebuild it.
Going into this season, most people expected a measure of improvement that might put the Titans in the six to seven-win range by season’s end. At 1-3, the Titans have had their moments in the first four games where they have had chances to win, but have created some of their own demise with penalties, turnovers and breakdowns at critical times.
Mularkey responded Monday to one of those problem areas by axing special teams coach Bobby April, whose unit, he said, was not showing any progress beyond the problems of the past two seasons. Was it a knee-jerk reaction after a poor effort in Houston? Perhaps, but Mularkey showed that he is willing to make changes, if needed, in the best interests of the club, even if it means dismissing an old coaching ally.
Mularkey insists that the Titans are better overall than the product Ken Whisenhunt put on he field, though he has no more wins to show for it through the first quarter of the season than Whiz did in his tenure.
But with the schedule softening over the next five weeks (opponents have a combined 4-16 mark), Mularkey and the Titans will get the chance to show whether they have truly improved. Winning three or four in that five-game stretch would be a definite sign of progress for a franchise that has shown an inability to string together victories in recent years.
The Titans still have their problems in all phases of the game – from trying to get Marcus Mariota squared away in the passing game to fixing the ailments on special teams and in the secondary.
But to suggest that four games in, the Titans would ditch the plan already and go away from the coach that ownership and management virtually hand picked after last year’s nine-game audition? Not going to happen.
We can put the hot seat talk away for now, because Robinson and Mularkey knew going into this that rebuilding this downtrodden team would be a task that would likely require more than one draft and more than one off-season in free agency. And to keep changing head coaches and systems only impedes the process.
Now, if the Titans land in 3-13 territory again by the end of the season, then perhaps all bets are off, regarding the direction of the franchise. But for now, the hot seat talk is as ludicrous as it is off base.