Even with playoff breakthrough, management doesn't owe Mike Mularkey, he owes management

mdi construction barKANSAS CITY, Mo. – Mike Mularkey made it clear he was unhappy Titans management had not discussed his status with him as a report from NFL Network Sunday said his job could be at risk if his team lost here.

Not knowing what's up with your job sucks. I’ve been there myself.

Mularkey should be on solid footing now, after leading the Titans to their first playoff win since Jan. 3, 2004.


He deserves a great deal of credit for changing the culture, for guiding the Titans to back-to-back 9-7 seasons and for this playoff berth and victory.

Still, owner Amy Adams Strunk owes him nothing. He owes her.

She hired a guy who had two disastrous stints as an NFL head coach and owned a record of 16-32 before he landed on Ken Whisenhunt’s staff. She hired him in large part because she came to like him personally.

She and Jon Robinson, who signed on for the GM post with Mularkey pretty much in place, had two good reasons for not offering a vote of confidence in the last week.

Perhaps Mularkey's fate was potentially hanging in the balance and they didn’t want to lie. He doesn’t like to lie and should respect that his boss wouldn’t want to either.

If they gave him the vote of confidence he apparently wanted, surely he would have wanted them to have meant it.

Also possible: Ownership/management didn’t feel a need to speak about their coach as the team prepared for the playoffs. A coach that did a lot of good work to reset the organization’s course, despite the dramatic failings of his offense, was fine.

Could his doubts say as much about himself as about them?MDI 2

Most players with uncertain futures could have made their futures more certain by performing better. Few of them, however, would say, “I just presumed the worst,” as Mularkey said.

I think the fanbase, with whom he's not been very popular, would have preferred he said, "I expect to be here because I damn well deserve to be here."

Mularkey didn’t drop any passes or fail to run accurate routes or muff a punt. But he and his staff are supposed to maximize the talent and help it minimize mistakes.

He’s had a giant hand in 10 wins this season. Seven losses too.

Don’t want your job status in any sort of doubt? Do better with what’s widely regarded as an offense with talent. Devise a better plan for a talented but beat up and often-struggling quarterback. Develop him, develop a system around him and don't sell your self as flexible when you're generally stubborn.

apple icon 72x72 precomposedMularkey's stuff has worked well enough to get the team to the AFC final four. Maybe someone else's would have gotten the Titans a home game, similar results and a better chance on the road again next week.

Odds seem pretty good Mularkey is just fine now, unless he's angered the owner by basically calling her out.

Under contract through 2019, he’s still likely to need to adjust his staff. He’s not going to draw very good candidates if he can only offer them a year.

Which means he could well be in line for an extension.

Which is the method by which management really tells a coach how it feels about him.

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