Borrowing a page from this week’s playoff opponent, Mike Mularkey did his best Sunday to put talk of his job being in jeopardy in the rearview mirror.
“I’m already on to New England,” Mularkey said, taking a cue, either intentionally or not, from Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
Mularkey was responding to Tennessee Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk’s statement earlier in the day, trying to squelch such talk that popped up again before the Titans’ 22-21 comeback win Saturday over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Wild-Card Playoffs.
After the win, Mularkey told the media that he did not feel he had the security that he would be assured of being back next season. Mularkey’s contract has one more year to run.
On Sunday, Adams Strunk issued the following statement:
“Our mantra all season has been to take things week by week and not get ahead of ourselves and it obviously has served us well. I regret that outside rumors gained a life of their own. No one has been a bigger supporter of Mike Mularkey than I have over the last two plus seasons. Mike and Jon (Robinson) have changed the culture of our team and organization and I am so happy we have been able to bring success on the field to our fans – winning 19 games over the last two seasons, including our first playoff win in 14 years. Just to eliminate any distractions moving forward, Mike Mularkey is our head coach and will be our head coach moving forward. We still have work to be done, including this week, but I am looking forward to the journey.”
Mularkey was rather succinct when asked a few hours later about the owner’s statement.
“It was nice. What I really want is just about our franchise, our organization, our team to be talked about. That’s the gist of it,” Mularkey said. “That’s not how you want to open up a press conference, you want to talk about beating a really good football team in their backyard. That’s what I really want it to be about is what’s happening good for our franchise.”
When a follow-up question was asked, Mularkey did his best to turn the focus back to the Titans divisional playoff game Saturday at the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
“I’ve already addressed it. I’ve addressed it with the staff. I’m not going to talk about it anymore, I’m already on to New England. It’s been addressed. I’m full speed ahead, getting ready for New England, so is our staff,” Mularkey said.