NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans coach Mike Mularkey has made it known since the day he stepped into the job he wants a tough, physical football team.
His three coordinators – Terry Robiskie (offense), Dick LeBeau (defense) and Bobby April (special teams) -- share the same mindset, and that's no coincidence.
"All they want to do is win, and all of them want to win physically, it is a common theme with these guys,'' Mularkey said. "And they know how I coach because I've coached with all three of them. So the message is going to be easy, and I know it will be spread amongst the three phases."
Robiskie, who will call the plays for the Titans on offense, joins the Titans after spending the past eight seasons as wide receivers coach with the Falcons. Robiskie has 34 years of coaching experience in the NFL, including six seasons as an offensive coordinator.
Mularkey said Robiskie will look for ways to take advantage of quarterback Marcus Mariota's strengths, and athletic ability. But he said the team's top priority on offense moving forward is to establish an identity by playing a more physical brand of football.
"Terry is a passionate football coach -- he is fiery, and he will hold players accountable. But players will love him when it is all said and done,'' Mularkey said. "His No.1 objective is to win, and he wants to win by beating somebody bad. Physically, he wants to beat them up. And he is speaking my language – that is why we have gotten along so well.
"We want to be physical running the ball. But when we throw a pass, there's going to be a lot of guys around the ball, knocking people around. That's receivers blocking, guys running to the ball. That's what he and I both know. And we won a lot of games in Atlanta because of it. It wasn't because we had the most talent, it wasn't because we had Matt Ryan. It was because of how hard we played."
On the defensive side of the football, Mularkey said there will be noticeable changes moving forward as well.
Mularkey named LeBeau assistant head coach/defensive coordinator a year after the Titans finished the season ranked 12th overall in total defense, allowing 342.2 yards per game. It was a big improvement from the year before, when the Titans finished 27th overall in total defense, allowing 373.0 yards per contest.
A year ago, Ray Horton served as defensive coordinator, and the two men worked together. In 2016, LeBeau's influence will be seen more in the defense, Mularkey said. Horton took a job as defensive coordinator with the Browns.
"Dick is going to call the defense, and he is going to have more input on game planning. It is going to be more Dick LeBeau than (last year),'' Mularkey said. "It is going to be different. It is not going to be a drastic change, but there is going to be a change defensively."
As for special teams, Mularkey said he expects to see improvements under the guidance of April, a 24-year coaching veteran in the NFL who spent last season with the Jets.
The Titans were solid in the kicking game in 2015, but the team struggled in the return game and on coverage teams.
"Our return game needs to get better. We need to do things on special teams to help us win games. This guy has energy, really positive energy. And he is a really good coach,'' Mularkey said of April.
"He was thinking about being a grandpa, but he wanted to come back, knowing it was me, one more time. And he is like a kid again. He is excited as much as I am."