Jason Michael Set to Call Plays for First Time on Sunday

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Since joining the Titans prior to last season, Jason Michael's always had the title of offensive coordinator.

Until this week, however, he wasn't the guy calling the shots on Sundays. That all changed when Ken Whisenhunt was fired, and replaced by interim coach Mike Mularkey.

This Sunday, Michael will call his first NFL game vs. the Saints.

On Thursday, Michael said it will still be a group effort.

"It is my job to go call the plays,'' Michael said. "(But) there's going to be communication. To sit here and say it's all on me, this isn't all on me. It is not on the coordinator, it is on the offensive staff, it is on us as a team and going out and trying to find a win.

"As a play caller you want to do whatever gives you the best opportunity."

After seven games, the Titans are ranked 31st in the NFL in total offense. The team is 19th in rushing offense, and 28th passing offense. There have been issues protecting the quarterback, and scoring points. The team is ranked 31st in the NFL in scoring offense.

Whisenhunt called the plays in 2014, and in the first seven games. When Mularkey took over, he immediately put Michael in charge. Michael joined the Titans as offensive coordinator last season. He previously worked as tight ends coach for the Chargers from 2011-13, including the last season under Whisenhunt, who was offensive coordinator in San Diego before being hired by the Titans.

"He's very intelligent, very smart,'' Mularkey said of Michael. "He has a good feel, even out here, for what's going on with the whole picture. He's locked into the whole play and will adjust where guys need to do something better. I feel very good about it. When he was on the phones with Coach (Ken) Whisenhunt, a lot of very good communication and in between series, very good communication on how to attack the defense the next series. It's really not going to be that much different except maybe less voices on the phones, he can concentrate a little better."

Tight end Delanie Walker on Thursday also praised Michael, who has 11 years of coaching experience

Prior to joining the Chargers, Michael spent two seasons with the 49ers (2009-10) as an offensive assistant, and then as quarterbacks coach. He also has experience with the Jets and Raiders.

Michael began his coaching career in 2003 as a graduate assistant at the University of Tennessee. Michael later returned to UT as a tight ends coach under Phillip Fulmer, in 2008. As a player, Michael quarterbacked Western Kentucky to the 2002 NCAA I-AA championship with a 34-14 win over McNeese State and was named the school's Male Athlete of the Year in 2003.

"I think he is going to put us in great situations,'' Walker said of Michael. "He knows the offense, and I am pretty sure he studies as hard as any of the coaches here. I see his car here when I am leaving, and I am one of the last people to leave. I am very confident in him and believe he is going to do a great job."

Mularkey said the team plans to "script 15, up to 30 plays."

Michael will continue to coach the game from the press box, and relay calls on field to quarterbacks coach John McNulty, who will relay the calls to quarterback Marcus Mariota.

Michael said his work week hasn't changed. He's prepared this week just like always leading up to games. How much will change on Sundays remains to be seen. Michael plans to make tweaks in the offense, and he also plans for the Titans to be physical.

"I have a lot of respect and feel greatly about coach Whisenhunt, and I don't want it to be in this situation,'' Michael said. "But the opportunity is here, and this is the role I have been given, and I am excited about that part. Our goal is to win a football game, and that is what we are going to try and do as a staff.

"(We have) one goal in mind: Take Coach Mularkey's vision of what we are doing, and as a play-caller call the game according to what he is looking for…and go get a win this weekend."

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