Well, that was rather quick… In part due to the thankful conclusion of the NFL’s lengthy quest to reestablish a franchise in Los Angeles, all seven teams looking to fill their Head Coaching Vacancy did so in largely subtle fashion. In fact, with the dreaded Black Monday just two weeks in the rearview mirror, this current hiring cycle came and went with little more than a whimper. So unless any of the teams participating in the postseason make a shock firing (a la John Fox in 2014), there likely won’t be any more new entries to the fraternity of thirty-two Head Coaches anytime soon. Some would describe the current cycle as melodramatic, and of course it is. It always is. However, this year nearly a quarter of the league simply looked as if they were instituting change just for the sake of change. Hell, even former Giants’ skipper Bill Parcells described this current crop of Play-Callers and Game Managers as underwhelming, which speaks directly to the lack of gravitas that these new leading men bring to their respective franchises. And that’s no dig at these guys, for any coach in his right mind would do whatever takes to be at the helm of an NFL team. Essentially, it’s no different than having a high pick in a Draft void of any clear-cut, game-changing talent. And like the Draft, we won’t know just how impactful these hires were (if any at all) until two to three years down the line. But where’s the fun in that? After all, patience is becoming a novelty these days when it comes to the Head Coaching profession, as Owners have become more and more unrealistic in their demands for immediate improvement and results. So without further ado, let’s take a look at how the following teams, including the likes of the Browns, Buccaneers, Dolphins, Eagles, Titans, Giants, and 49ers did in their searches, and the latest men to take charge of these respective teams.
Before we get into the guys that received their proverbial Golden Ticket, let’s take a look at a few who didn’t. At a certain point in the process, it became quite clear that Owners were skewing much more towards the young, up-and-coming prospects opposed to the vested, experienced veterans with proven track records. Typically, anytime that the likes of Mike Shanahan and Tom Coughlin throw their hats into the ring, their would be a lengthy line of suitors for their services. However, that simply wasn’t the case. Granted, both men interviewed for multiple teams, but for various reasons neither venerable coach was hired, which must leave a number of fans across the country scratching their collective heads given the disappointing state of many of the franchises in need of someone with their particular set of skills. And while Liam Neeson wasn’t a candidate for any of these jobs (though it would be great if he was), it’s puzzling as to why Shanahan and Coughlin were discarded in favor for some of the neophytes that did manage to get hired. Together, the pair combine for a staggering total of 340 victories (170 apiece) in forty years on the sidelines, with seventeen Playoff appearances, and four Super Bowl Championships (two apiece) between them. You could take the seven men that got hired and together their credentials would pale in comparison to that of these guys. Seriously, think about the kind of credibility that Shanahan or Coughlin would bring to downtrodden franchises such as the Cleveland Browns or Tennessee Titans, who have both been a laughing stock over the past five years. Or the stability that either would bring to talented-yet underachieving teams such as the Miami Dolphins or Philadelphia Eagles. Or how about the San Francisco 49ers, who spent all season wiping the mud off their face after the dismissal of Jim Harbaugh, and the unmitigated disaster that was the appointment of Jim Tomsula? So why not Shanahan and Coughlin, you ask? Well, one prevailing theory is age; at sixty-three and sixty-nine years young, these ageless wonders may appear to be too long in the tooth for some Owners’ preference, which is granted credence given the average age of the men hired over the past two weeks being 47.7 years old. The oldest hiring was fifty-six years of age, with two under the age of forty. Another theory is control. It goes without saying that with coaches of Shanahan and Coughlin’s ilk, there is a high degree of control/power/authority they would demand in the organization, for after all, success dictates such responsibility. Owners may view these two as being much more difficult to bring under their boot than their contemporaries, which is certainly the case in a situation like Philadelphia’s, or organizations such as Cleveland that are experimenting with a radically different dichotomy in their Front Office. There is also the most credible theory, which is money; Shanahan and Coughlin would easily command a higher salary than the guys that did get hired, due to their wealth of experience and wide range of accomplishments. In the end though, these two stalwarts of the sidelines will get the luxury of enjoying a year away from the game, which should rejuvenate them to a degree, making them prime candidates to make themselves available once again next January. And hey, given the nature of these things, there is a chance that some of these jobs will be open once more in a year’s time. So CHEER UP, OLD GUYS! THERE’S ALWAYS NEXT YEAR!!
Upon reviewing this current crop of additions to the Head Coaching Ranks, there are a number of things that became very evident. As we touched upon earlier, this group of coaches is young, with the youngest (Gase) checking in at thirty-seven years of age, while the elderstatesman (Koetter) is just fifty-six years old. Going hand-in-hand with that notion is a general lack of Head Coaching Experience; between the seven coaches, there are only three that possess any experience as a Head Coach on the NFL level (Kelly, Jackson, and Mularkey), while two (Kelly and Koetter) have enjoyed that role in the collegiate ranks. There are a scant 121 games as an NFL Head Coach between these gentlemen, with one lone postseason appearance between them (Kelly in 2013). Interestingly enough, in a league that becomes more and more offensive-oriented with each passing year, none of these hires have any coaching pedigree on the defensive side of the ball; five of them served as Offensive Coordinators in their stays with their previous teams, with all but Kelly (who is an offensive guru himself) being employed in that role throughout their careers. Defensive-minded candidates such as Sean McDermott and Teryl Austin were largely ignored save for a few interviews, serving as greater proof that Owners these days are trending towards skippers of the offensive variety, despite the wealth of success garnered by defensive masterminds such as Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll, who have hoisted the past two Lombardy Trophies.
Miami Dolphins: Grade, B
- Adam Gase, former Chicago Bears Offensive Coordinator: The youngest member of this class (37), Gase was the most sought-after of the coaching candidates, with just about every team in competition for his services. Though he lacks any kind of Head Coaching Experience, the youngster has built quite a stellar reputation as not only a play-caller, but as a proverbial Quarterback Whisperer. Getting his start as a Recruiting Assistant at LSU, Gase ascended to the NFL ranks as a Scouting Assistant with the Detroit Lions (2003-2004) before becoming their Quarterbacks Coach in 2007. While his background in Personnel was certainly appealing to Owners, it was his tenure with the Denver Broncos that blew everyone away; after two years coaching Wide Receivers, Gase transitioned to Quarterbacks, where he mentored Tim Tebow in his magical 2011 campaign, culminating in an improbable Division Title. Then came the acquisition of Peyton Manning, which coincided with his rise to Offensive Coordinator. With premium talent at his disposal, Gase presided over a unit that led the NFL in Scoring (37.9), Total Offense (465.4), First Downs (435), Passing Offense (348.3), and Net Yards per Attempt (7.8) in 2013, while Manning shattered single-season records in Passing Yards (5,477) and Passing Touchdowns (55), just two years removed from neck surgery. Following John Fox to Chicago after the Head Coach’s surprising dismissal last January, Gase further established his credentials by becoming one of the few in his profession to figure out the enigma that is Jay Cutler. Many coaches have had a shot at him, but only a small handful have been able to do much with him, but Gase managed to turn the maligned Quarterback into a surprisingly consistent playmaker; the tenth-year veteran’s eleven interceptions were the fewest thrown in a campaign in which he made at least eleven starts, and his Net Yards per Attempt (6.85) was his highest since 2008, while his Passer Rating (92.3) was a career-best. Hell, he even led the NFL in both Fourth Quarter Comebacks and Game-Winning Drives, with four apiece. Gase proved that a Quarterback deemed uncoachable by many, was in fact anything but, which is very significant now that he’s off to fix another signal-caller, Miami’s Ryan Tannehill. While not as polarizing as Cutler, Tannehill has had more than a few detractors in the Dolphins’ organization, which played a major role in the termination of the previous regime. Everything from his lack of pocket awareness, to his inability to make correct changes at the Line of Scrimmage, to his reluctance to throw the ball downfield have been points of contention, which are only underlined by the franchise’s hefty commitment made in him last Spring (4 years, $77 million). At just twenty-seven years of age, there is still plenty of time for the kid to develop, which should work in Gase’s favor, and despite a number of impending Free Agents (Lamar Miller, Olivier Vernon), a solid talent base exists (Jarvis Landry, Jordan Cameron, Ndamukong Suh, among others). Owner Stephen Ross was wise to appoint Gase, choosing to hire someone who can accentuate his primary investments and build upon a foundation instead of scrapping everything and starting over. The only concerns at this point are how he transitions from handling the Offense to the entire operation (appointing a solid Defensive Coordinator will be crucial), but his five years learning at the feet of a respected coach of Fox’s stature should go a long way towards debunking those feelings. Given his track record and reputation with Quarterbacks, we think Miami got it right with this guy, and though his presence may not be felt immediately, it should pay dividends in the future.
Cleveland Browns: Grade, B
- Hue Jackson, former Cincinnati Bengals Offensive Coordinator: Though he already possesses limited experience as a Head Coach on the professional level, many still feel that Hue Jackson never should’ve been relegated back to the rank of Assistant to begin with. It may have something to do with how his last tenure leading the sidelines ended; Jackson spent one season as the Oakland Raiders’ skipper (2011), in which he guided the long downtrodden franchise to an 8-8 record, their best since 2002, and subsequently their best since his questionable dismissal. If there was ever a victim of circumstance, it was this guy. After significantly improving the offense in 2010 as the Offensive Coordinator, Jackson was elevated by the late Al Davis to Head Coach, where he crafted the most respectable and explosive Raiders’ attack in a decade. However, the defense eroded mightily under his watch (27.1 points allowed, 29th Overall), as the penalty count rose to staggering numbers (163 for 1,358 yards). But nothing stained his tenure more than the decision to sacrifice a wealth of Draft Picks in the acquisition of Carson Palmer, which occurred shortly after Davis’ passing. Coincidentally, the maverick owner’s death was coupled with the season-ending injury of Quarterback Jason Campbell, which prompted the trade for Palmer by Jackson, who acted as a defacto General Manager. Let’s call it for what it was; as so many coaches tend to do, Jackson wanted to win now, and mortgaged the future on Palmer, whom he mentored in Cincinnati from 2004-2006, opposed to the harrowing alternative of riding out the rest of the season with Kyle Boller, for crying out loud!!! With that said, he watched his team proceed to squander a 7-4 start in a very winnable division and miss the Playoffs altogether. Nearly a week later, newly appointed General Manager Reggie McKenzie handed him his walking papers, and continued to dismantle a roster languishing in Salary Cap hell. New General Managers oftentimes mean new Head Coaches, and he was effectively punished for making a decision in a vacuum. It’s nothing new, folks. From a promising Head Coach to an embattled skipper suddenly out of his depth in personnel waters, Jackson would spend the next few years as a pariah before rehabbing his reputation as Cincinnati’s Offensive Coordinator from 2014 to 2015. In that time, their offense has been one of the more balanced in the league, ranking seventh in scoring this past season (26.2). In many ways, the fact that he landed in Cleveland, who has gone through coaches and systems like toilet paper, is almost poetic; with their inept Ownership and dysfunctional Front Office, the Browns were viewed as toxic by a number of high profile candidates, so it only makes sense that they would be drawn to the polarizing Jackson, who now gets his second chance. With a Front Office (polarizing in it’s own right) already in place, you can expect his focus to be squarely on the field, where his enthusiasm and charisma is sure to be a hit with the players, while his innovative and aggressive play-calling chops should go a long way towards resuscitating one of the worst offenses in the league (27.0 points allowed, 29th Overall). Oh, and we’d be remiss if we failed to mention his work with young Quarterbacks; Jackson had a heavy hand in the development of the aforementioned Palmer, along with Joe Flacco (2008-2009), as well as Andy Dalton (2012-2015), who have all carved successful careers for themselves, not to mention getting the most out of A.J. McCarron after Dalton’s thumb injury late this season. With Johnny Manziel a certainty to be released or traded soon, the Browns will surely be drafting his successor come May, possibly even with the Second Overall Pick, which should have Jackson licking his lips. As is the case with Gase, whom he rounds out his Staff with will be crucial, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, but don’t be surprised if this guy turns this thing around, provided Jimmy Haslam and his cabinet of Analytics Experts gives him the time to do so.
San Francisco 49ers: Grade, C
- Chip Kelly, former Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach: After the highly publicized debacle that was Jim Harbaugh’s departure last January, and the ensuing dumpster fire that was the 2015 campaign courtesy of his successor Jim Tomsula, 49ers’ Owner Jed York simply had to get this right. Well, many would argue that he already failed when he decided to retain the services of General Manager Trent Baalke, who was the primary antagonist in the drama with Harbaugh, and only compounded his mistakes by hiring an unqualified company yes-man like Tomsula to replace him. Putting the poor guy out of his misery was nothing more than an admission of face-planting guilt on the part of the bumbling young owner. So where did York turn to for a solution, you ask? Why none other than Chip Kelly, who was fresh off of getting dismissed by the Philadelphia Eagles with one game left to play on their schedule. The innovative, offensive genius was largely disappointing in the City of Brotherly Love, as his team did nothing but regress despite expending vast resources to tailor the roster to his system. Ultimately, he became a victim of his own hubris; after garnering more power in the Personnel Department during the offseason, Kelly was vilified in this regard, with a number of personnel moves proving to be unmitigated failures. He traded for Sam Bradford, who had nearly as many turnovers (17) as touchdowns (19). He ruined DeMarco Murray, the reigning Rushing Champion (702 yards). He ran fan favorites and mainstays such as Desean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, and Evan Mathis out of town. He missed year after year in the Draft (Marcus Smith, Nelson Agholor). And most importantly, he alienated countless prominent figures in the organization, with Owner Jeffery Lurie terminating him after the Coach refused to abdicate his personnel control. In just three short years he went from an innovative, forward-thinking, ahead of the curve, progressive futurist, to yet another in a long line of successful Collegiate Coaches to find out the hard way that there is more to being successful in the NFL than relying on a system. So why in the hell were York and Baalke interested in this guy, when they could have had the likes of Mike Shanahan, Tom Coughlin, or Hue Jackson, who all interviewed for the position? Well, the prevailing theory is that coming off his failure with the Eagles, Kelly would have no desire to factor into the personnel side of things, which had to be appealing to Baalke, who would have resisted the hiring of anyone who would challenge his authority. And despite his loss of luster, this guy is still a very intelligent coach, who did manage to put together a 26-21 record in Philly, even with all the aforementioned problems. In San Francisco, all he’ll need to do is coach, which many around the league feel he does particularly well; his first order of business will be to figure out how to improve upon an anemic offense which ranked dead last in Scoring (14.9) and next-to-last in Total Offense (324.4). The Niners have some good young pieces to work with, and a lot of money available to spend in the offseason, which makes them a virtual blank canvas for Kelly to paint upon, and let’s face it, folks, after last year there is nowhere to go but up. How he rounds out his staff, particularly on defense will be crucial (387.5 yards allowed, 29th Overall); there have been talks that he could retain Eric Mangini as Coordinator, who runs a scheme comparable to the one previously employed in Philadelphia. However, the elephant in the room is the fate Colin Kaepernick, whom the Front Office must decide upon soon; many think that the regressing young Quarterback would flourish in Kelly’s system, which gives credence to his hiring. With all that said, we’re far from sold on this hire, for San Francisco aimed much higher, and could have had someone far more accomplished in what is in all likelihood going to be an arduous rebuild. Kelly had a wealth of talent in place when he took over the Eagles, and he’ll have a fraction of that leading the Niners. Good luck, Chip, you have your work cut out for you.
New York Giants: Grade, D
- Ben McAdoo, former New York Giants Offensive Coordinator: Ah, the more things change, the more they stay the same… Well, after the eventual parting of ways between the Giants and Tom Coughlin, you’d be hard-pressed to notice any real change at all in the building. After a 6-10 campaign culminating in a fourth consecutive term without the Playoffs, change was coming in the Big Apple, as many expected the Mara Family to institute sweeping change throughout the organization. However, apart from Coughlin’s largely successful twelve-year tenure coming to an end, nothing else seemed to change in Gotham City. Surprisingly, General Manager Jerry Reece retained his longstanding position with the Franchise. Despite expressing interest in the Saints’ Sean Payton, New York ultimately decided that the price to meet New Orleans’ demands (reportedly a Second Round Pick) was simply too high. Former Bills’ skipper Doug Marrone interviewed for the job, but ultimately what devolved into an uninspired search concluded with an uninspired hire as Mara and Reece decided to promote Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo to Coughlin’s vacated position. In essence, the Front Office felt that stability and consistency was the way to go. Waitaminute… Wasn’t the consistency of going 28-36 and missing the postseason for four years in a row what led to Coughlin walking away in the first place? That sounds like mediocrity to us, folks, and this reeks of the Organization squarely laying the blame on the venerable coach’s shoulders, despite a plethora of failures that can be attributed to others on the Staff and in the Front Office. First and foremost, Reece should carry plenty of blame thanks to some truly disastrous drafting and acquisitions in Free Agency, which have left the roster very depleted in a number of areas. The fact that Coughlin managed to keep them in some semblance of contention for so many years speaks volumes of the former Coach. Then there is Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who outside of helming their 2007 Super Bowl Defense, has done virtually nothing of merit since. Nobody gave up more yards than his charges (411.3), and only two teams managed to relinquish more points (27.6), which is clearly his fault. The fact that McAdoo is even considering retaining him is utterly ridiculous. And then there is the newly minted skipper himself, who has spent the last two years running the Offense with Big Blue. It’s obvious that the Front Office valued his work with Eli Manning, who has improved greatly in their time together, posting career-highs in Touchdown Passes (35) and Passer Rating (93.6), while throwing only fourteen interceptions despite attempting more passes than at any other point in his career (618). In their mind, consistency on this side of the ball should allow them to build upon the solid play of a unit that ranked sixth in Scoring (26.2) and eighth in Total Yards (382.1), as they head into the latter years of Manning’s career. With that said, McAdoo has no prior Head Coaching Experience, and has only been a Coordinator for two years, after spending the previous eight on Mike McCarthy’s Staff in Green Bay. However, that’s not the point. By keeping the Coaching Staff and Front Office largely intact, the Giants proclaimed that the status quo over the past four years which drove one of the most respected coaches in the history of the NFL to walk away was in some way acceptable, which from our perspective is completely and utterly UN-acceptable. One of the many definitions of insanity is to repeat the same method over and over again expecting a different result, which in our opinion puts the New York Giants is some rather unflattering company.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Grade, D
- Dirk Koetter, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive Coordinator: Another Offensive Coordinator elevated to Head Coach, Dirk Koetter wasn’t a surprising hire by the Buccaneers, but the fact that he was in a position to become their Head Coach in the first place was. Circumstances dictated his promotion, as the Front Office shocked everyone by relieving Head Coach Lovie Smith of his duties (by phone nonetheless), a decision that was criticized by many around the league. Smith was only in his second year on the job, and while many have been fired before even reaching that milestone, it was still shocking to see him axed after Tampa Bay improved by four games in 2015; after going 2-14 in his first term with the Bucs, Smith guided a young team flush with talent to a 6-10 finish, which apparently was not acceptable for the Glazer Family, who have owned the Franchise for over two decades now. However, this has become something of a pattern for the Glazers; under their rule, the likes of Tony Dungy (2001), Jon Gruden (2008), Raheem Morris (2011), and Greg Schiano (2013) were all dismissed to some degree of surprise, with the first two getting fired after winning seasons. Usually, when a regime selects a Quarterback high in the draft, particularly at No. One Overall, there is a certain amount of leeway granted to the Head Coach and his Staff. With that said, it was ultimately the presence of Rookie Quarterback Jameis Winston that precipitated the change. Under Koetter’s tutelage, the Heisman threw for 4,042 yards and twenty-two touchdowns in his rookie campaign, while the Offense ranked fifth in Total Yards (387.5), which led to a lot of interest from other teams around the league for the Coordinator’s services. With a number of interviews lined up, the Bucs’ Brass ultimately felt that his continued work with Winston was far too valuable moving forward, and essentially fired Smith in fear of losing Koetter. Call it whatever you want, but in the eyes of the Glazers and General Manager Jason Licht, Koetter was far more important to the team’s plans than Smith ever was. An innovative Play-Caller wherever he’s been (Jacksonville from 2007 to 2011, Atlanta from 2012 to 2014) the fifty-six year old has a good deal of Head Coaching Experience on the collegiate level, leading Boise State from 1998 to 2000, and Arizona State from 2001 to 2006 to varying degrees of success. However, we’re not sold on his ability to control the entire operation any better than his predecessor; the Offense was rather sloppy at times (28 Turnovers), and the Defense got absolutely torched down the stretch, allowing 29.8 points on 350.0 yards over the final four outings, all of which were losses. Defense was supposed to be Smith’s forte, and the Bucs faltered mightily in that regard despite some solid building blocks (Gerald McCoy, Levante David). Appointing his former boss in Atlanta, Mike Smith, to run that side of the ball should be a boon to his efforts to help this young team reach it’s potential, but for all intents and purposes given the caliber of the other hires around the league, there was a great probability that Tampa could have retained Koetter without ousting Smith, which could have secured the team’s further development. Time will tell if the Glazers’ meddling nature will end up like it did the last time they fired a respected defensive coach in favor of an offensive tactician (Gruden succeeded Dungy to win a Super Bowl shortly thereafter), or if it does little more than stunt the team’s growth. We apologize for coming across so negative, but we’re leaning toward the latter outcome.
Philadelphia Eagles: Grade, F
- Doug Pederson, former Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Coordinator: Everything that was once old in Philadelphia is now new again… Once upon a time there was this guy named Andy Reid, who presided over the Eagles as their Head Coach for fourteen years, in which he transformed the team into a perennial contender, advancing to the Playoffs nine times, including five NFC Championship Games (four consecutive from 2001 to 2004), and an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIX. Eventually, the venerable skipper fell out of favor with Owner Jeffery Lurie, who felt that the team had become stagnant, and needed to be ushered into a drastically different direction, which led to Reid’s dismissal, followed by the hiring of one Chip Kelly, who we commented on at length earlier in this column. Fast forward three years and with Kelly shown the door, Lurie was once again searching for a new Head Coach, putting together a massive search that included a virtual who’s who of candidates ranging from everyone’s favorite Adam Gase to former Giants’ leading man Tom Coughlin. However, as the big names began to come off the board, Lurie and his Front Office settled on none other than (drum roll, please)… Doug Pederson? WTF?!?!?!?!?! That’s right, folks. That Doug Pederson. How ironic is it that after showing Reid and his Staff the door and going out of his way to hire someone so philosophically different in Kelly, that Lurie would end up acquiring the services of Pederson, who has spent the last seven years as one of Reid’s chief lieutenants, including the past three as his Offensive Coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs? It probably helps that he is very familiar with Pederson, who in addition to serving as Philadelphia’s Quarterbacks Coach from 2011 to 2012, actually Quarterbacked the team in 1999, which was coincidentally Reid’s first year at the helm in Philly. What makes this hire so mind-numbingly perplexing is that this guy is in all likelihood going to run the very same Offense that his mentor did, which ultimately drove many in the organization nuts, with it’s conservative and predictable nature. Now, we’re not throwing mud on the work he’s done with the Chiefs’ Offense this season, particularly in guiding Alex Smith to arguably his finest campaign to date without the services of the injured Jamaal Charles for the majority of the year, but there are uninspiring hires, and then there is this. As Chiefs’ fans bemoan Reid’s sluggish play-calling during the team’s Division Round loss to the Patriots on Saturday, the faithful in Philadelphia must be pulling their collective hair out, as they have to be thinking “This again?” One has to think that former General Manager Howie Roseman, who was demoted last winter after losing a power struggle with Kelly, played a prominent role in this move, particularly given his history with Reid, and by extension Pederson. It’s our opinion that he’s probably looking to reestablish his control and authority in the building, and by hiring someone he’s familiar with (or in other words, control) he would indeed achieve just that. With all that said, the Eagles could have had Coughlin, who interviewed just days before they ultimately hired Pederson, which is such a massive foul-up that we simply can’t take the time to describe it here. Instead they erred on the side of familiarity, as a nauseating sense of deja vu must be radiating from the City of Brotherly Love.
Tennessee Titans: Grade, F
- Mike Mularkey, former Tennessee Titans Interim Head Coach: Last and certainly not least, we come to the Tennessee Titans and the sad, revolting mess that their organization has deteriorated into. The last two years have not been kind to this franchise, as they have gone a dreadful 5-27 in that span, running their postseason drought now to seven years. Ken Whisenhunt was supposed to get things back on track in Nashville, but the former Cardinals’ skipper was relieved of his duties after just seven games this season, leaving Assistant Head Coach Mike Mularkey to keep the ship afloat in an Interim capacity until the end of the campaign. For his efforts, Mularkey went 2-7 over the final nine games, but the prevailing opinion was that the franchise would indeed move in a different direction, particularly given the impending change in the Front Office; with the expiration of his contract, General Manager Ruston Webster was not retained by the Adams Family, who own the franchise. With the hiring of former New England executive Jon Robinson, attention swung to the vacant Head Coach position, which oddly enough ended up with the same man that occupied that role at the climax of the season. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Titans’ Brass ultimately settled on retaining Mularkey; with growing uncertainty about the Adams Family’s ownership of the Franchise in the near future, with many reports leaning towards an eventual sale, it would have been hard to get any reputable Head Coach to come to Tennessee. Or would it? Few teams were armed with the requisite kind of ammunition to entice one of the bigger candidates to fill their vacancy, as the Front Office had the presence of a promising young Quarterback in Marcus Mariota, the No. One Overall Pick in the NFL Draft, and the luxury of hiring your own General Manager at their disposal, which none of the other teams looking for a Head Coach could claim. From the looks of their list of interviews, it seems as if the Front Office inexplicably failed to put these unique yet considerable set of resources to use. And that, folks, is the definition of a party foul in our book. All jokes aside, this Organization needed something. A shot in the arm. Some enthusiasm. Anything. Instead, they got Mularkey. Not to disrespect the man, but he’s been a Head Coach on two different occasions prior (14-18 in Buffalo, 2-14 in Jacksonville), and he’s been nothing short of mediocre in both stops. In retaining his services they’re throwing up the proverbial White Flag, and proclaiming to the rest of the league that nobody wants to work for them, and that they don’t really care about the development of Mariota. This is a classic example of a franchise simply content with treading water in a bunker mentality in the expectance of an inevitable change in ownership. The faithful in Nashville don’t deserve this, but hey, the Volunteers should be pretty good next year…