EVP/GENERAL MANAGER JON ROBINSON PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT – Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 **
Good afternoon. After numerous conversations with Amy (Adams Strunk), we have decided to part ways with Mike Mularkey as our head coach. I'd like to thank him for all he's done for this team, this community and wish him the best moving forward. We will begin the search immediately for a new head coach. Our goal remains the same, we are committed to our fans, to bring a championship home to this great city and state. These decisions are never easy, yet Amy (Adams Strunk) and I remain steadfast, and the most important thing is the team – putting our players in position to maximize their ability in all three phases of the game. I'm very proud of the success we have had over the last two seasons, and look forward to working with our new head coach, and moving us closer to and ultimately winning a championship. We'll begin the search immediately and update you through our PR team, Robbie (Bohren) and his staff, upon completion of each candidate that we interview. With that, I will open it up for questions.
*(on if Mike Mularkey being unwilling to make changes to the coaching staff led to his release) *I think there's a lot of factors that go into decisions that you make that impact the football team, this obviously (was) a big one. That's certainly something that was discussed.
(on going from discussing extending Mike Mularkey's contract to ultimately relieving him of his duties)
Like I said, those are conversations that Amy (Adams Strunk) and I had ongoing, back and forth. In the end, we felt (it was) best for the team to go a different direction.
(on some of the factors that played a role in Mike Mularkey leaving the organization)
Like I said, there's a lot of factors that go into every decision that is made.
(on where Mike Mularkey's job status stood yesterday when he gave his season-ending press conference)
I would say the decision was made this morning.
(on if what Mike Mularkey said in his press conference yesterday impacted his job status)
I would say yes.
(on what it was about the direction of the team that he was unhappy about)
Listen, like I said, we've done a lot of good things here over the last two years. I just felt like we needed to go a different direction and maximize the skill sets of the players on the field.
(on who the 'common ground' is in the statement by Controlling Owner and Co-Chairman Amy Adams Strunk)
I think in any organization, not to speak for other teams, but its ownership, the head coach and the general manager. They all have to be on the same page.
(on if he agrees with Mike Mularkey saying yesterday that quarterback Marcus Mariota made positive progress this season)
Marcus (Mariota) is a really good football player. I think if you just look at the statistics, it doesn't quite say that. I think Marcus (Mariota) made a lot of really good plays for us this year.
(on what qualities he's looking for the new head coach to have)
Leader of men. Obviously, the things that are stamped out there on those pillars, team-first, detailed, tough, dependable. One that's going to, like I said, maximize the abilities of the players in all three phases of the game.
(on the importance of getting a head coach who can maximize the abilities of Marcus Mariota)
I think whoever the head coach is, you want to maximize the abilities of all your players. That's the beauty of this game, it's a team game. It takes 11 guys. Marcus (Mariota) is certainly an important part of that. The quarterback position is a very important, if not the most important position on the field.
(on if he'll have a conversation with Marcus Mariota on what Mariota is looking for and if that will factor into the head coaching search)
I have a great relationship with Marcus (Mariota). I'm sure we'll talk. He's kind of catching his breath right now after a long season and I look forward to chatting with him about the team.
(on his thoughts on the job Offensive Coordinator Terry Robiskie did this season)
I like Terry (Robiskie). I think Terry has got a great relationship with the players. Again, to me, there's a lot that goes into game planning. There's a lot of voices on both sides of the ball, and in the kicking game, that go into planning for a game on a weekly basis.
(on how much his established relationships around the league will play into the head coaching search)
We've started that search this morning, going through names and bios, and starting to build a list of potential candidates. It certainly helps to have relationships in the league, and be able to call on those relationships that might have a connection with a potential candidate even though I might not have a one-on-one relationship with that person. Someone you can trust that will shoot you straight on the candidate.
(on if he will be the person to exclusively hire the next coach)
Amy Adams Strunk owns the team, so I think she's the ultimate say. But, I will have a very strong input into who leads our team moving forward.
(on if he envisions having a 50-50 partnership with the new head coach or if he'll assume more control of the personnel decisions)
Well, I've always had a say so in personnel. I would just say that we haven't talked about any of that yet.
(on what he would say to those who claim this boils down to a power struggle between himself and Mike Mularkey)
I think this boils down to doing what we think is best for the football team moving forward, taking the next step.
(on how to keep the culture the organization has been building while simultaneously moving forward)
I think that locker room is a bunch of really good guys, a bunch of guys that are extremely passionate about football, that believe in our beliefs about what Titan football is going to look like, and remaining steadfast in our approach to building the team.
(on if he's worried about the fact players publicly supported Mike Mularkey)
I've got a great relationship with all the players in the locker room. That's the NFL, change happens a lot of places throughout the course of time in this league. I have an open door policy that they can come and talk, and we can talk about things. I think that's important.
(on how important it is that the next head coach exhibit flexibility in terms of game-to-game usage of Marcus Mariota)
I think that's important in today's league. I think that the NFL game has evolved a little bit, and I think that being able to – like I said earlier in my statement – maximize the ability of players, again, to put the team in the best position to win football games.
(on if he's concerned that the new head coach will be Marcus Mariota's third head coach in four seasons)
Marcus (Mariota) is a pretty resilient guy. He's a very mentally tough guy. He takes a lot from the standpoint of ownership in things. I have zero concern in Marcus being able to adapt and learn, and do what's best to get the offense going.
*(on why he thinks the offense regressed this season compared to last) *I don't know. I don't know, I think that's some of the things that we're searching for.
(on if any players came to speak with him to express concern about the direction of the offense prior to today)
(on how many candidates he'd like to interview for the head coaching vacancy)
We don't have a set number on how many we would like to talk to. I think we'll talk to as many as it takes to get the right guy to lead this team moving forward.
(on if he's willing to wait until after the Super Bowl to speak with a potential head coaching candidate)
Like I said, I think there's not a set number on candidates and we want the right guy for the job.
(on relieving Mike Mularkey of his duties after reaching the second round of the playoffs and what that says about where the bar for success is being set)
I don't think there's literally a set bar. Again, I think it's the path of the team and the direction of the team, and the utilization of the players. I think that's really what we're looking for.
(on what the current issue with the direction of the team is)
Again, it boils down to consistency, that's on a week-in and week-out basis. Moving forward, showing progress in all three phases of the game.
(on if he felt like this team reached a plateau with Mike Mularkey at head coach)
Again, I think there's a lot of good football players on this team. I think at the end of the day, we felt like we needed to go down a different path to move forward.
(on how long the extension was that was in discussion for Mike Mularkey)
We hadn't talked about that.
(on how close the Titans are to being championship contenders)
I think we've got a really good football team. I think we've got a good roster, we've got a good makeup of players. I think the personalities in that locker room, I think they really love each other and they play hard for each other. I think they're tough and resilient, and I think – not to put a timetable on it, but I think that the pieces are in place for us to move forward.
(on if parting ways with Mike Mularkey was 'inevitable' and what the timeline was given the public support of him from Amy Adams Strunk)
Again, like I said, there's a lot of things that we've talked about, Amy and I, about the direction of the team moving forward. This morning, it was decided that we felt like we needed to go a different direction.
(on the timeline of the decision to relieve Mike Mularkey of his duties)
There's a lot of things that we've talked about, Amy (Adams Strunk) and I, about the direction of the team moving forward. This morning it was decided that we felt like we needed to go a different direction.
(on Mike Mularkey's reaction to being relieved of his duties)
That was a personal conversation. I'd like to keep that personal.
(on who delivered the news to Mike Mularkey)
It was myself and Steve Underwood.
(on if Titans' fans reaction on social media influenced his decision)
Like I said, I love our fans. I think that I made that abundantly clear in my opening statement when I was sitting here a little less than two years ago about what this team means to me, what this city means to me and what this state means to me. There's nothing more that I want for our fans than to bring a championship here. I feel like it's my charge to put the team in the best position to do that.
(on how he will address candidates' concern about the 'back and forth' support from ownership)
I think this is a very attractive job for a lot of candidates. I look forward to working with whoever the next head coach is. I think that they will see that myself and Amy (Adams Strunk) will be unified with them in our vision for the football team.
(on how close he is with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels)
I can't comment on any current coaches that are under contract.
(on who he anticipates being in the room with him during interviews)
We haven't really gotten into all the specifics of that. I would say certainly myself and Amy (Adams Strunk) will be in there.
(on if getting a late start on the coaching search will hurt them)
Yeah, I kind of touched on that earlier. I think this is an attractive job. I think that we'll go through the candidate list when we're able to talk to potential candidates that we think can move this organization and this team forward, we'll talk to them.
(on what the status of Mike Mularkey's staff is)
They're currently under contract.
(on if assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is still under contract)
It's my understanding that he's still under contract, but I'll clarify that.
(on if Mike Mularkey's assistant coaches are free to interview for other positions if asked)
That's on my to-do list this afternoon is to call all the assistant coaches and talk to those guys individually.
(on if Mike Mularkey's potential contract extension was contingent on changes to the coaching staff)
No, we did not talk about that.
(on if there are members of Mike Mularkey's coaching staff that he would like to keep)
I think there are some good coaches on our staff.
(on if there is anything that Mike Mularkey could have said or done in the past two days to remain the team's head coach)
I don't like to retrospect and think would've, could've, should've. I think we've made the decision to move forward and we're looking forward to getting the next head coach in here to lead our team.
(on what this decision says about owner Amy Adams Strunk's commitment to winning football, given her personal relationship with Mike Mularkey)
I would say that I have worked for now three ownerships, three owners, in this league and I would put Amy Adams Strunk at the top with the other two that I've worked for. She is extremely easy to talk to. Her and I have a great relationship. She understands football, she understands the game. Nothing is more important to her than this franchise and what it's meant to her family. She wants to do what she thinks and what we think is best for the team.
(on how long it would take to win a championship with a new coach in place)
I talked earlier about not really setting bars and timetables on things. I'm looking forward with whoever the next head coach is and building up on what we've got going here and going forward with it.
(on how important hiring his first head coach is to him personally)
Well again, like I said, this was not an easy decision. This was not a gratifying decision for me, but again, as I stated, there's very few things that are more important to me than the Tennessee Titans.
(on if protecting the quarterback will still be a top priority for him moving forward)
Like I said, I think that the quarterback position is if not the most, one of the most important positions on the field. Making sure that he's in the position to maximize his skill set and be protected is definitely of utmost importance.
(on the best advice he's gotten in his career about hiring a head coach)
I think it's just get as much information as you can. It's very similar to prospects in the draft process or when you're making a trade or you're signing a free agent - those are paramount decisions that effect the football team. Get as much information as you can about it and do what's best for the team. Go with your instinct. Trust what you've learned, trust your background in football and move forward with it and do everything you can to make it work.
(on if he built the roster with Mike Mularkey's style of offense in mind and if he believes in that style)
I think our players could stylistically play in a lot of offenses. Receivers, it's get open and catch, runners its make yards when they hand it to you. I think we've got a solid roster on both offense and defense and then the kicking game.
(on how important his relationships are in evaluating someone versus someone that he doesn't know coming in from the outside)
Great question. I think we're going into it with really no preconceived notions. We have a vision for what we want the next head coach to look like. We're looking forward to talking to candidates and seeing if they fit that bill.
(on if he would like to see Marcus Mariota's development evolve to strictly the passing game)
That's something that the new head coach and I will talk about, about how to utilize the personnel really on all sides of the ball and in the kicking game. I think that Marcus (Mariota) has shown that he's a more than capable runner, and he's pretty good at throwing it too. Whatever we think is best to help us play at a consistent level is what we'll do.
(on if most of Marcus Mariota's struggles this season have been coaching issues)
No. I think that there's a lot of factors that go into the success of players. There's a myriad of things. I don't have time to go through every single thing that affects them.
(on if they have requested permission to talk to any candidates yet)
Like I said, our PR team, we'll talk to them and put out once the interviews, the candidates that have interviewed, are complete.
(on if they will conduct any interviews this week)
(on if the timing of this decision has anything to do with the availability of certain candidates)
No, I wouldn't really read into anything on the timing of things. I think in the end, the discussion was back and forth with Amy (Adams Strunk) about moving forward and taking the team to the next step.
(on what the risk is of letting a coach go who led the team to back-to-back winning seasons and the second round of the playoffs)
I think any time you make a decision that effects the team, there's always risk involved. There was risk with the trades that we made. There was risk with some of the things that we did. In the end, you try to just do what's best for the team moving forward.
(on if he would consider a college head coach for the vacancy)
I think we would exhaust all possibilities, whoever we think is best to move the team forward.
(on in terms of success, what he would say the 2017 season was)
I think we took a lot of steps in the right direction. I thought some of the second-year players got better. I think some of the rookies came on. I think we're heading in the right direction, and with more consistency in all three phases of the game, I think we can continue that progress.
(on how important it will be for him and the next head coach to have the same philosophy)
(on what the status of running back DeMarco Murray is for next year)
He's under contract.
Titans GM Jon Robinson's press conference on Monday discussing the team's future after it was announced Mike Mularkey won't return as head coach in 2018. (AP Photos)