Last Sunday, Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk issued a statement aimed at clarifying the status of coach Mike Mularkey. At first blush, it did. On closer inspection, it didn’t.
“Just to eliminate any distractions moving forward, Mike Mularkey is our head coach and will be our head coach moving forward,” Strunk said in a prepared document that she and the organization had as much time as they needed or wanted to craft.
The proximity of “moving forward” in reference to “distractions” (which implies a short-term focus) to another use of “moving forward” (which in isolation implies nothing) suggests a premeditated effort to reserve the right to make “moving forward” as temporary as a movie rental. And it has done little to knock down speculation regarding the possibility of the first coaching change for a team that made it to the round of eight since the Chargers fired Marty Schottenheimer after his team went 14-2 in 2006.
As to the issue of distractions, it’s not clear who was actually experiencing them, other than Mularkey and his staff. Tight end Delanie Walker said during a visit to PFT Live this week that the status of Mularkey simply wasn’t an issue in the locker room.
It definitely wasn’t an issue in the locker room after Saturday’s 21-point loss to the Patriots, with none of the team-distributed quotes from Mularkey or any players even mentioning the coach’s status.
Ownership hasn’t revisited the issue, either. If the Titans are keeping him, they can stand on the statement issued last week, vague as it may be. If they’re not, don’t be surprised if they use the cover of Sunday’s playoff games to issue a fresh statement indicating that the clock has moved past “forward” — especially with talk of Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels joining the Colts gathering more and more steam.
The bigger question is whether the Titans would move on from Mularkey only if they know they can get McDaniels, or whether the Titans are willing to make the change and launch a traditional search.