In addition to finding favor with controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk, two other things appeared to work in Mike Mularkey’s favor in retaining the Tennessee Titans head coaching job.
First, with Mularkey staying, Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau, who oversaw Tennessee Titans defense last season, is likely to return to that capacity as a part of Mularkey’s new staff.
Second, the Titans won’t make drastic changes to their offense, which should enable quarterback Marcus Mariota to more easily build on his rookie season performance.
Mularkey said he has spoken with LeBeau a couple of times during the process leading up to his introduction as head coach and believes the 78-year-old defensive guru plans to be on board.
“I’ve talked to Dick a couple of times. The coaches have had off until tomorrow, but I have talked to pretty much everyone of them. I have a good feeling that Dick will be back with us next year,” Mularkey said.
The picture might not be as clear for defensive coordinator Ray Horton, who ran the defense in 2014, but was superseded by LeBeau, who arrived last season. There was a report on Sunday that Horton wanted out and would become the Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator. But that report is at least premature, though a source indicated that Horton will interview in Cleveland. A source from the Horton camp indicated Monday that as of now, Horton was presumed to be staying with the Titans. Mularkey said details were still being finalized regarding his role.
“Obviously, I’m talking to every coach. I spoke to Ray as of yesterday morning about it, and we’re still talking through all the details of his position, as I will with every coach that comes back in here tomorrow,” Mularkey said.
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On the offensive changes and how it affects Mariota, Mularkey said the offense would be somewhat different, but not radically so.
“There’ll be some similarities, but it’ll be cut down,” Mularkey said. “It’s not a complete overhaul because it comes from the same tree, basically. But it will be adjusted and a lot of it will be to help Marcus.”
To help with continuity, Jason Michaels will shift from offensive coordinator to quarterbacks coach, meaning that John McNulty could be gone. Offensive line coach Bob Bostad is likely out the door.
There was an ESPN report that Terry Robiskie, the Falcons wide receivers coach who worked with Mularkey in Atlanta, would be the team’s new offensive coordinator, but Mularkey said that three other candidates would also be interviewed before a final decision was made.
“Terry is in the interview process. He’s part of the coaches I’m bringing in for that position,” Mularkey said.
Three Titans coaches have already accepted jobs in other places – defensive line coach Giff Smith with the Chargers, special teams coach Nate Kasczor with the Buccaneers and receivers coach Shawn Jefferson with the Dolphins.