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Mike Mularkey has legitimate chance to be retained

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The Tennessee Titans' head coaching gig has been open for months, but there has been little groundwork for a coaching search.

If that sounds odd, it should -- especially when teams like the Philadelphia Eagles waited just days to interview their first potential candidate -- but there could be a reason.

The Titans confirmed Monday that Mularkey is a candidate for the team's head coaching job, and he's getting top consideration from the team, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.

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"From what I am told, there is a real and legitimate chance that Mike Mularkey, who has been the interim coach, gets the full-time job," Rapoport said Monday on NFL Network's NFL HQ. "Mularkey is well-liked by (owners) the Adams family, that is one thing, and they really appreciate the kind of work he's done with Marcus Mariota. They've lost a couple games at the end of the season, but all of that was without their rookie quarterback."

The Titans fired general manager Ruston Webster on Monday. Another interim, CEO Steve Underwood, saw his tag removed, so he will stay with the team.

Even if they plan to keep Mularkey, Tennessee will need to conduct interviews, in part to satisfy the Rooney Rule.

Speaking to reporters Monday, Underwood said the ideal coaching candidate would be "somebody who has been coaching at a high level in the NFL for many years."

The Titans finished 2-7 under Mularkey, clinching the No. 1 overall pick. The stats weren't much different from the seven games under Ken Whisenhunt. The Titans scored 1.4 more points per contest under Mularkey, but allowed 6.6 more points per game while retaining their negative turnover differential of seven under each coach.

Mularkey has an 18-39 career record as a head coach with the Titans, Jaguars and Bills.

Tennessee's front office could try to point to the losses without Mariota, but Mularkey won just two games and lost five with the rookie quarterback under center. Mariota's play -- partially hampered by injury -- didn't improve by leaps and bounds under Mularkey, either. 

The Titans could spin it however they want, but their fans can't be enamored with the idea of keeping a milquetoast coach in town.

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