The Tennessee Titans have hired Mike Mularkey on a permanent basis, removing his interim tag and making him the 18th head coach in franchise history.
“The vision Mike presented for our football team during this search as well as the character, integrity, and leadership skills he displayed during the last two months of the season makes him the right coach for the Tennessee Titans,” said Titans Controlling Owner and Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors Amy Adams Strunk. “Mike is a quality coach and an outstanding person who will help us build this team the right way. He has experience as a head coach and a track record for developing young quarterbacks and dynamic offenses, and he also brings continuity for our franchise quarterback. We understand this may take time as we rebuild the roster and bring in new coaches for Mike’s staff, but we believe he has the experience and expertise to build a consistent winner.”
Mularkey has 21 years of NFL coaching experience, including three-plus seasons as a head coach and eight as an offensive coordinator, with coaching stops in Jacksonville, Atlanta, Miami, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay. In five of his eight seasons as a coordinator, Mularkey’s teams went to the playoffs.
As a former NFL tight end, Mularkey played a total of 114 games in nine seasons with the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers. His experience as a player has molded his style as a coach – emphasizing physical, smart play. Including his rookie preseason with the 49ers, Mularkey spent his career playing for three of the NFL’s legendary coaches in Bill Walsh, Bud Grant and Chuck Noll. As an assistant coach, Mularkey has served on the staffs of Sam Wyche, Bill Cowher, Nick Saban, Cam Cameron, Mike Smith and Ken Whisenhunt.
“I am honored to be named the head coach of the Titans, and I want to thank Amy, Kenneth, Steve and Jon for this opportunity,” said Mularkey. “I will give all that I have to make this team successful and our city and fans proud. The last two months of the season were extremely valuable in order to understand our personnel and instill some of our values and standard of play, so we won’t be starting from scratch. With that as a basis, we will now be installing some new systems and bringing in new coaches and players to build on what we have started. There is plenty of work to be done until we reach our goal, but we will all work tirelessly to get us there.”
“After numerous discussions with Mike and consulting trusted colleagues throughout the league, I believe he is the right head coach to lead this Titans team,” said Titans General Manager Jon Robinson. “Mike’s attention to detail as well as his track record of building dynamic offenses while developing young quarterbacks such as Matt Ryan is impressive. Mike and I share an aligned vision of how to best proceed, and our goal is to build the Tennessee Titans into one of the elite organizations in the NFL.”
In his two seasons working with the tight ends in Tennessee, Mularkey guided TE Delanie Walker to franchise and career marks. In consecutive seasons, he set the franchise mark for receiving yards by a tight end with 890 (2014) and 1,088 (2015) and totaled 157 grabs over the two seasons, the second-highest total by an NFL tight end.
Mularkey joined the Titans after one season (2012) with the Jacksonville Jaguars as the franchise’s fourth head coach, and four seasons (2008-11) with the Atlanta Falcons as offensive coordinator. Over the four-year time span with the Falcons, the team advanced to the postseason three times, ranked ninth in the NFL in total yards (354.8 per game), seventh in points (24.5), eighth in rushing yards (125.7), third in fewest turnovers (84), fourth in fewest sacks allowed (93), and sixth in third down conversions (44.2).
In three of the four years with the Falcons, Mularkey’s offense produced a 3,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard receiver and a 1,000-yard rusher in the same season. His guidance saw the rise of QB Matt Ryan, WR Roddy White, RB Michael Turner; and the continued growth of TE Tony Gonzalez, who totaled 233 receptions and 19 touchdowns in their three years together. In 2010, Sporting News named Mularkey “Coordinator of the Year.”
Prior to his time with the Falcons, Mularkey spent two seasons (2006-07) with the Miami Dolphins as the offensive coordinator in 2006, and tight ends coach in 2007. He joined the Dolphins after serving as head coach for the Buffalo Bills for two seasons (2004-05).
Eight seasons (1996-2003) with the Pittsburgh Steelers preceded Mularkey’s time with the Bills. Mularkey served as the tight ends coach in his first five seasons. He molded Mark Bruener into an outstanding run-blocking tight end, while Jerome Bettis eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for five straight years. His final three seasons were spent as offensive coordinator, during which time he directed two top five offenses (3rd, 2001 and 5th, 2002) and earned Assistant Coach of the Year in 2001 from the Pro Football Writers of America.
Mularkey entered the coaching ranks in 1993, overseeing the offensive line at Concordia College. He transitioned into the NFL in 1994, where he began as a quality control coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before being promoted to tight ends coach the following season (1995).
Selected in the ninth round by the San Francisco 49ers in 1983, Mularkey was waived following his first training camp. He was signed by the Vikings, where he played for six seasons, before finishing his career with three years at Pittsburgh. He totaled 102 receptions and 1,222 career yards.
A graduate of Northeast High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Mularkey played quarterback and earned a scholarship to the University of Florida. He was a three-year letterman at tight end for the Gators from 1979-82. He and his wife, Betsy, have two sons — Patrick and Shane.
Before hiring Mularkey, the Titans also interviewed their Defensive Coordinator, Ray Horton for the team’s head coaching position as well as Jaguars assistant head coach-offense/offensive line coach Doug Marrone, and Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.