NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Quarterback Marcus Mariota was driving to a mountain range in Oregon when he got the news about Mike Mularkey.
It came straight from Mularkey, who on Saturday was hired as the team's head coach.
"I am excited for him. He is definitely a man that deserves the job,'' Mariota said. "I look forward to being able to work with him. He is very excited. We are going to focus on what is going on now and finding ways to get better. I can't wait to get there and work."
Mariota, who just finished his rookie season after being selected second overall by the Titans in last year's draft, said he's also happy himself.
"Our relationship has been great,'' Mariota said of Mularkey. "He did an incredible job with what happened this year and handling everything. I am very excited to have him as a coach and I look forward to getting to work.
"I am sure guys are excited. He's definitely a players' coach, and we are very blessed to have him. We can't wait to move forward."
In his 12 starts during his rookie season, Mariota completed 230-of-370 (62.2%) passes for 2,818 yards, with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His final passer rating: 91.5.
Mariota broke several franchise rookie records, including most touchdowns (19), completions (230), passing yards (2,818) and passing attempts (370). Mariota completed three or more touchdown passes on four different occasions during his rookie season. He joined Peyton Manning (four in 1998) as the only rookie to accomplish the feat.
During the first seven games of the season, Ken Whisenhunt served as head coach of the Titans. But Whisenhunt was replaced in November, opening the door for Mularkey to be named interim coach.
The Titans interviewed three other candidates, but opted to hire Mularkey.
"To have consistency I feel is important, not only for myself but for this entire team,'' Mariota said. "Everyone is relatively young, but with what happened we are excited and are very blessed.
TitansOnline.com looks back at Titans head coach Mike Mularkey's 2015 season. (AP Photos)
"I think for a lot of us, we were anxious to kind of find out what was going on. I am glad the organization took its time and decided what was best for us as a team. I am happy for coach Mularkey. Moving forward, he just said we just have to take it one day at a time and trust what is going on now and find ways to improve, find ways to get better, and he looks forward to getting to work."
Mularkey has 21 years of NFL coaching experience, including three-plus years as a head coach and eight as an offensive coordinator, with coaching stops in Jacksonville, Atlanta, Miami, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay.
Prior to being promoted to interim head coach with the Titans, Mularkey served as assistant head coach/tight ends.
"He speaks from the heart, and he is very straightforward. He tells it like it is,'' Mariota said of Mularkey. "He is very competitive, and really is a guy who is going to do his best no matter what situation he is put in. As a player that is meaningful, and he's somebody we can look to as a very important influence.
"I am very happy for him and glad we were able to go in this direction. I look forward to what is coming up."