NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The start to the 2015 season has been a disappointment for the Tennessee Titans.
What's most important now is the finish, and the organization has a new man leading the way in Mike Mularkey.
Mularkey was named interim coach this morning after the team parted ways with head coach Ken Whisenhunt, who was hired in January 2014. Whisenhunt posted just a 3-20 mark as the team's head coach, including a 1-6 mark this season.
Yet with nine games to play, the Titans remain in the mix in the AFC South. The Colts and Texans are tied at the top of the division with a 3-5 mark, while the Jaguars are right behind at 2-5. The Titans are just 1.5 games back heading into Sunday's game against the Saints.
Mularkey, who was promoted to assistant head coach/tight ends during the offseason after being hired as tight ends coach under Whisenhunt in 2014, has led a team before.
Mularkey is in his 21st year of NFL coaching. He spent three years as a head coach, including two for the Buffalo Bills (2004-05). In his first season with the team, the Bills finished 9-7, marking their only winning season over the last decade. The Bills posted a 14-18 record in Mularkey's two seasons with the team.
Mularkey also spent the 2012 season as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Mularkey enjoyed plenty of success as an offensive coordinator. In four seasons (2008-11) with the Atlanta Falcons, the team advanced to the postseason three times, ranking ninth in the NFL in total yards (354.8 per game), seventh in points (24.5), eighth in rushing yards (125.7), third in fewest turnovers (84), fourth in fewest sacks allowed (93), and sixth in third down conversions (44.2).
Mularkey's offense produced a 3,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard receiver and a 1,000-yard rusher in the same season in three of his four years with the team. Quarterback Matt Ryan, receiver Roddy White, running back Michael Turner and tight end Tony Gonzalez were among his star pupils.
In 2010, Sporting News named Mularkey "Coordinator of the Year."
TitansOnline.com looks back at the last two seasons with new interim head coach Mike Mularkey. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)
Prior to his time with the Falcons, Mularkey spent two seasons (2006-07) with the Dolphins, first as the offensive coordinator in 2006, and then as tight ends coach in 2007. He joined the Dolphins after serving eight seasons (1996-2003) with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In his final three seasons, Mularkey served as offensive coordinator, during which time he directed two top five offenses (3rd, 2001 and 5th, 2002) and earned Assistant Coach of the Year in 2001 from the Pro Football Writers of America.
With the Titans, during the offseason Mularkey was elevated to assistant head coach, where he took on added responsibility for the run game plan. As a former NFL tight end, Mularkey played a total of 114 games in nine seasons with the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Under Mularkey's tutelage, the Titans have excelled at the tight end position. Delanie Walker leads the team with 35 catches for 361 yards and a touchdown. Tight ends Anthony Fasano (13 catches, 159 yards), Craig Stevens (5 catches, 52 yards) and Chase Coffman (4 catches, 42 yards) have also produced.
Last year, Walker set a franchise mark for receiving yards by a tight end with 890 and the best reception total (63) of his career. His totals led the team in both receptions and receiving yards for 2014. Walker also posted the second-highest yardage game total by a franchise tight end with 155 yards against Philadelphia.
Mularkey entered the coaching ranks in 1993, overseeing the offensive line at Concordia College. He transitioned into the NFL in 1994, where he began as a quality control coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before being promoted to tight ends coach the following season (1995).
Selected in the ninth round by the San Francisco 49ers in 1983, Mularkey was waived following his first training camp. He was signed by the Vikings, where he played for six seasons, before finishing his career with three years at Pittsburgh. He totaled 102 receptions and 1,222 career yards.
Mularkey played at the University of Florida.