Mularkey preaches 'fresh start' for wayward Titans


No hire this offseason has been met with less excitement than Tennessee's choice of Mike Mularkey.

Announced Monday as the Titans new head coach, the team's former interim leader opted not to dwell on his vanilla Q Rating.

Instead, Mularkey talked about a "fresh start" with a Titans team that tumbled to a 3-13 record this season, including a 2-7 mark under Mularkey.

Did the Titans look hard enough for their next coach?

Reporters asked that question repeatedly about a search that sourced just four coaching candidates before controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk pinged Mularkey for the job.

"Somewhere during that process, I think it coalesced for Amy, and she had made a decision," said Steve Underwood, Titans president and CEO. "She already knew Mike, She had a comfort level with Mike, but she wanted to reach out and look around, and make sure that there was not any other viable candidates for her, in terms of our club and where we were going."

Quizzed repeatedly about the team's truncated search, Underwood went out of his way to call Mularkey a "perfect fit" for the organization while downplaying an itchy fan base unhappy with the hire.

"I'm not really sure how they can be uncomfortable with either of the processes (for coach or GM)," said Underwood, adding: "... I'm not really sure what (fan) discomfort level you're talking about."

Here's what else we learned during Monday's proceedings:

1. "I'm a good football coach," said Mularkey, arguing that he was "very confident" in his abilities despite an 18-39 career record. The Titans coach talked about finally having the time and authority to make the alterations he couldn't as a fill-in for the fired Ken Whisenhunt. "I know what changes need to be made, and fortunately I get the chance to change them."

Mularkey pointed to a more "user-friendly" offense and "multiple coaching changes." He also confirmed that former offensive coordinator Jason Michael will take over as quarterbacks coach. Atlanta's Terry Robiskie will be the Titans' new offensive coordinator, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.

2. Underwood emphatically denied that the Titans are for sale, although it sounds like changes are looming with how the team is put together up top:

3. Underwood confirmed that newly anointed general manager Jon Robinson will maintain control over the 53-man roster. After years with the Patriots and Bucs, Robinson assured reporters that he and Mularkey share the vision of stocking Tennessee's roster with tough-minded players. Stop us if you've heard this before.

4. Mularkey has spoken with defensive aide Dick LeBeau about returning for 2016 and said: "I have a good feeling he will be back with us this year." It's unclear where that leaves Ray Horton, the overshadowed defensive coordinator who sat down with the team on Sunday. Mularkey acknowledged that leaving the Titans was "part of the conversation" with Horton, but nothing has been decided.

5. The topic of quarterback Marcus Mariota was a big part of the interview process, with Underwood selling Mularkey as a "quarterback whisperer."

Mularkey refused to use that title, pointing to his work over the years with Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddox in Pittsburgh and Matt Ryan in Atlanta as part of a larger team effort.

"I've had experience with young guys," Mularkey said, "but I don't know if (I'm) ... a horse whisperer."

Yup. You read that right.