How Titans' playoff run is limiting their head-coach search

January, 19, 2018
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Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sportsnull

With the Titans launching their head-coaching search late, they could find themselves at a disadvantage.

Titans can't sacrifice strong culture in finding new head coach

January, 19, 2018
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Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesThe Mike Mularkey era was plagued by an offense that underachieved, but he did an impressive job at building a positive, tight-knit locker-room culture.

The next Titans head coach must be someone who can connect with a tight-knit locker room as well as develop a winning offensive scheme.
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsThe Titans will be looking for a head coach who can maximize the talents of Marcus Mariota.

Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel was the first to interview to replace Mike Mularkey.

Pressure is now on GM Jon Robinson to bring Titans a championship

January, 16, 2018
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With Mike Mularkey sent packing, there's no question who is in charge of the Titans. Now it's make-or-break time for general manager Jon Robinson.
Logan Bowles/Getty ImagesDespite missing three games, Leonard Fournette ranked eighth in rushing yards (1,040).

The AFC South rookie of the year is split between Deshaun Watson and Leonard Fournette, while the Jaguars earn coach and defensive player of the year.

Which is the better job, Colts or Titans?

January, 16, 2018
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Adam Schefter breaks down the possibility of Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels replacing Mike Mularkey as the Titans' head coach.

Few paid much attention last March when the Minnesota Vikings signed Case Keenum to a one-year contract for $2 million. That move became one of the most pivotal of the 2017 season, which makes this a good time to revisit all the moves that made this season what it was -- and what it continues to be for the surviving teams.

We hereby re-grade every NFL team's 2017 offseason with the benefit of hindsight, using as a reference point the grades league insiders helped shape back in June.

You can read the whole file or quickly find your team by selecting one of the links below:

ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CIN | CLE | DAL | DEN | DET | GB | HOU | IND | JAC | KC | LAC | LAR | MIA | MIN | NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | OAK | PHI | PIT | SF | SEA | TB | TEN | WSH

A grades

New Orleans Saints

Re-grade: A+ | Offseason grade: B-

One of the best Saints draft classes in franchise history played a leading role in New Orleans' winning the NFC South and becoming respectable on defense. Draft choices Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk and Marcus Williams became immediate starters, while Alvin Kamara rivaled Lattimore as the biggest star of the bunch.

The Brandin Cooks trade gave New Orleans the pick used for Ramczyk. Veteran additions Ted Ginn Jr., Larry Warford, A.J. Klein, Alex Okafor and Manti Te'o were all valued contributors (Adrian Peterson was not, which is why the Saints traded him).

Even the changes Sean Payton made to his coaching staff seemed to pan out.

Titans GM: 'Maximizing' Marcus Mariota vital for new coach

January, 15, 2018
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Adam Schefter breaks down the possibility of Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels replacing Mike Mularkey as the Titans' head coach.
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Mike Mularkey didn't make enough adjustments to take advantage of his quarterback's skill set in what had become a predictable offense in Tennessee.

Mike MularkeyJim Brown-USA TODAY SportsMike Mularkey went 18-14 in his two full seasons as Tennessee's coach and helped guide the Titans to their first postseason victory since 2003.

Mike Mularkey has agreed to part ways with the Tennessee Titans, who announced Monday that the sides "couldn't come to an agreement over the future."

Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk acknowledged in a statement that the organization had discussed a potential contract extension with Mularkey, who in 2017 coached Tennessee to its first postseason appearance since 2008.

But the talks revealed that Mularkey and the Titans "saw different paths to achieve greater success," according to Strunk.

Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur is now set to interview for the Tennessee head-coaching job, a source told ESPN's Alden Gonzalez. 

Titans general manager Jon Robinson addressed the decision to part ways with Mularkey during a news conference Monday.

"I just felt like we needed to go in a different direction, and maximize the skill sets of the players on the field," Robinson said. "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."

The Titans were open to extending Mularkey, whose contract ran through 2018, but they wanted to make changes to his coaching staff, sources told ESPN's Cameron Wolfe.

"It is certainly unfortunate that we couldn't find enough common ground," Strunk said. "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, 56, went 20-21 in parts of three seasons with the Titans and guided Tennessee to back-to-back 9-7 records in his two years as the team's full-time coach.

The Titans ended an eight-year postseason drought and won a playoff game for the first time since 2003 with their 22-21 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs


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Source: Mike Mularkey, Titans talking contract extension

January, 14, 2018
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Mike MularkeyWinslow Townson/USA TODAY SportsMike Mularkey will be back as Titans coach in 2018 and has been engaged in contract extension talks with the organization since last week's wild-card victory, a league source confirmed to ESPN. His current deal is set to expire after the 2018 season.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Mike Mularkey is returning as Tennessee Titans head coach and is talking with the team about a contract extension that would keep him in town beyond the 2018 season, a league source confirmed to ESPN.

Initial talks began last week following the Titans' 22-21 wild-card playoff victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Titans made progress in 2017, finishing 9-7 and making the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season. They overcame an 18-point deficit at Kansas City to win their first playoff game since the 2003 season. Their season ended with a 35-14 divisional-round playoff loss at New England. Mularkey has gone 19-15 (including playoffs) in his two seasons as full-time head coach. His contract is currently set to expire following the 2018 season.

It seems the Titans' playoff run and growing culture has contributed to the team's decision to stick with Mularkey despite some offensive struggles. The Titans finished 23rd in the NFL in total offense and passing offense.


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Jack ConklinElsa/Getty ImagesDue to the timing of his injury, Titans right tackle Jack Conklin could be a candidate to remain on the physically unable perform list to start the 2018 regular season, coach Mike Mularkey said.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Titans right tackle Jack Conklin suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during Saturday's 35-14 divisional playoff loss to the New England Patriots. Titans coach Mike Mularkey said Conklin will have surgery within the next two weeks.

Mularkey anticipates Conklin starting training camp on the physically unable to perform list, and Conklin could be a candidate to remain on the PUP list to start the regular season due to the timing of the injury. Typically, ACL injuries can take nine months to recover, so that could make Conklin's return for the start of the 2018 regular season rather tight.

"That's not how you want to go into the offseason," Mularkey said. "That's a lot of work. Jack will have no problem doing that. That's the kind of player he is, person he is. It's disappointing for him. He had a good year."

Conklin, who was voted first-team All-Pro as a rookie in 2016, got rolled up on by a Patriots defender in the first quarter Saturday. Conklin has started every game for the Titans since he was drafted.


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Rejecting status quo can make Marcus Mariota, Titans true contenders

January, 14, 2018
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ESPN Titans reporter Cameron Wolfe describes Marcus Mariota's reaction to losing to the Patriots and discusses the agenda for the offseason.

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