INDIANAPOLIS —When Mike Mularkey was named interim coach of the Titans back on November 3, he was put on the clock. At the time, ownership wasn't happy with the direction things were going under the direction of Ken Whisenhunt, so the franchise made a change.
The Titans, just 1-6 at the time, had nine games remaining when Mularkey stepped in.
"I tried to do everything that I talked about early with (the players), as far as our goals and what we wanted to be once we turned that page in the middle of the season,'' Mularkey said after Sunday's loss to the Colts. "I felt like we got a lot of that accomplished."
Now, with the 2015 season now over, Mularkey hopes he'll get a chance to coach the team on a permanent basis.
"Obviously I'd like to have an opportunity to sit down and talk about it,'' Mularkey said. "There's a good nucleus here, there's lot of young players. I think we're very close here and I'd like to have an opportunity to talk about it."
Mularkey said he plans to speak with controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk on Monday, something he does each week. On Monday, the coaches and players report to Saint Thomas Sports Park for a final meeting of the 2015 season.
Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo said the players back Mularkey. Many of the players spoke up in support of Mularkey after the game. Mularkey was promoted from assistant head coach/tight ends coach earlier in the season.
"Absolutely guys do (want him back), but you know this business, it's crazy,'' Orakpo said. "Hopefully Mularkey can come back and we add some pieces here and there and have a full season to implement his coaching style, his coaching philosophy and his scheme.
"We know what he is capable of doing, you have seen his days in Atlanta running the offense. I hope he gets that opportunity. He definitely deserves it, a full season, to implement his coaching style.
"He is a fighter. We work hard for him, and we're focused and are attentive,'' Orakpo continued. "It didn't get us a lot of Ws, but we fought for him and will continue to fight for him if he gets the opportunity."
Titans tackle Byron Bell echoed the comments made by Orakpo.
"Coach Mularkey, I feel like if he had an opportunity with a whole year under his belt, and he is the guy, I feel like he could implement things and get us going in the right direction,'' Bell said. "He is a good football coach, and he knows what it takes to win. I respect coach Mularkey, the way he comes to work every day. He is 100 percent honest with you, and I respect that about him."
The Titans have gone 2-7 in Mularkey's nine games.
The Titans have cut back on penalties, and the team has done a better job protecting the quarterback under Mularkey's watch. The Titans have lost four straight games since a 42-39 win against the Jaguars on December 6, however.
"I said this before: If he had the job earlier, given the opportunity, I think he would make changes,'' tight end Delanie Walker said of Mularkey. "He did as much as he could. … "I think he could address what is wrong around here (if he's hired), and given the opportunity I am pretty sure he can fix some of the things."
Mularkey, who served two seasons as head coach of the Bills (2004-05) and one season as head coach of the Jaguars (2012), said he'd love a chance to put in his plan with a full offseason. Mularkey had a lot of success as offensive coordinator with the Falcons from 2008-2011.
Mularkey thought the team's performance against the Colts offered proof players continued to play for hard for him until the end.
"I thought you saw it out there today,'' Mularkey said. "The effort, the physical play, the want to, the desire. These guys at any point (after the head coaching change) could have easily gone in a different direction and not one of them did.
"A lot of that has to do with the locker room as well. But there's some things there that I don't think you're going to see in plain view… that I think are better. Obviously I am disappointed with the record, but I feel good with what I tried to do in a difficult situation."