The Tennessee Titans and head coach Mike Mularkey mutually agreed to part ways in a surprise move Monday morning.
The news comes just 36 hours after the Titans were routed by the New England Patriots 35-14 in a divisional playoff game on Saturday night.
Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk, along with general manager Jon Robinson, couldn’t come to an agreement with Mularkey over his future.
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) January 15, 2018
Robinson, a former front-office executive with the New England Patriots, will be leading the head-coaching search. Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is expected to be at the top of the list of candidates.
“I want to thank Mike Mularkey for his contributions to our franchise over his tenure with our organization,” Adams Strunk said in a statement. “He took over our team during a low moment and together with Jon built a solid foundation for our franchise. I appreciated that Mike devoted himself to this team and the community.
“In fact, we did discuss extending his future with our team over the past week, but in those discussions about the direction of the team, it became evident that we saw different paths to achieve greater success.
“It is certainly unfortunate that we couldn’t find enough common ground. I generally believe that continuity is the best path for success, but I also view this as an important moment for our football team as we try to make that next step to sustained success on the field. Jon will begin the search immediately to identify that person.”
Mularkey was named head coach of the Titans in January 2016. He served as interim coach for the final five games of the 2015 season.
Adams Strunk just eight days ago said she wanted to “eliminate any distractions” and that Mularkey “will be our head coach moving forward” after the team rallied from an 18-point halftime deficit for a 22-21 victory over the Chiefs in a wild-card game.
It was reported after the Titans’ loss at New England that Mularkey was talking with the team about a contract extension that would keep him in Nashville beyond the 2018 season. His contract was set to expire following next season.
The Titans made progress in 2017, finishing 9-7 and making the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season.
Despite the progress, questions about the development of quarterback Marcus Mariota and the team’s inconsistent offense were persistent throughout the course of the season.
Mularkey, 56, went 19-15 (including playoffs) in his two seasons as full-time head coach.
Mularkey declined to address the status of his extension during his end-of-season news conference Sunday afternoon.
“Yeah, we’re moving forward full speed ahead,” Mularkey said Sunday. “Going to give the coaches off this week and get us into the Senior Bowl next week. Got a lot of work to do with two weeks into the offseason already.”
There were reports regarding Mularkey’s uncertain job security prior to the win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the regular-season finale to make the playoffs and the Kansas City matchup a week later.
Expressing anger at the Titans for leaving his status uncertain, Mularkey said, “Ridiculous. … I don’t think it’s fair to my family. When it has an effect on my family, it has an effect on me. So it had a big effect on me.”
The next day on Jan. 7, Adams Strunk gave Mularkey a vote of confidence.
–Field Level Media