NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Veteran receiver Harry Douglas joined the Titans in March for a number of reasons, but make no mistake, the biggest one was Mike Mularkey.
Mularkey served as offensive coordinator for four seasons with the Falcons at a time when the team amassed a 43-21 record. In three of the four seasons, the Atlanta offense produced a 1,000-yard rusher, a 1,000-yard receiver and a 3,000-yard passer in the same campaign.
Douglas was with the Falcons, playing under Mularkey, those four seasons.
As the Titans begin their search for the next head coach, Douglas is among those hoping Mularkey ends up being the guy.
"He is a good get, and I think he deserves it,'' Douglas said of Mularkey. "When things were spiraling down this season, he made the spiraling down stop. He gave us that burst, and energy we needed as a team. I was with him in Atlanta and he has done some great things in this league and I feel like he can lead us where we need to be.
"His attention to detail, and the demanding of excellence out of everyone. He loves football, it means a lot to him. Winning means a lot to him. And he has won."
Mularkey replaced Ken Whisenhunt as interim head coach seven games into the 2015 season. The Titans were 1-6 at the time. The Titans went just 2-7 in the final nine games of the season.
Mularkey, who previously served as head coach of the Buffalo Bills (2004-05) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (2012), is in the mix. Titans President Steve Underwood said on Monday he was impressed with the work Mularkey did as interim coach despite the record in nine games to close out the season.
"I think that you have to look again at what he had to work with," Underwood said. "Our starting quarterback was injured a good bit of that time, missed a number of games due to injury. Mike apparently did make adjustments that made it easier to protect Marcus (Mariota), we did have some success here and there. I think all of those things though have to be weighed against the fact that he was working in someone else's schemes.
"We're going to interview a number of head coach candidates. There hasn't been a decision made about head coach, but at the same time, we haven't eliminated Mike as a contender, either."
As players cleaned out lockers before going their separate ways for the offseason on Monday, they expressed support for Mularkey.
They believe if he had a full offseason to put in his plan, things would be different.
"I think he is an exceptional coach,'' guard Chance Warmack said. "He was put in a tough situation, and he made the most of it. I am pretty sure if he had a full season to do what he wanted to do, he would be real successful. He brings good energy to the team."
Titans tackle Taylor Lewan agreed.
"I think Mike was a phenomenal head coach,'' Lewan said. "He definitely made us all want to play really hard for him. He is a great guy and a great coach. I have so much respect for Mike."