Tennessee Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk dispelled any rumors about head coach Mike Mularkey's job security and offered him a vote of confidence in a statement Sunday morning, per Jim Wyatt of the team website:
"I regret that outside rumors gained a life of their own. No one has been a bigger supporter of Mike Mularkey than I have over the last two plus seasons. Mike and [general manager Jon Robinson] have changed the culture of our team and organization and I am so happy we have been able to bring success on the field to our fans—winning 19 games over the last two seasons, including our first playoff win in nine years. Just to eliminate any distractions moving forward, Mike Mularkey is our head coach and will be our head coach moving forward."
On Saturday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported "Mularkey's job is not safe. Sources say a loss could end his tenure, as the team prepares for a run at Patriots [offensive coordinator] Josh McDaniels."
Suffice to say, Mularkey was less than thrilled about heading into a playoff game with his job reportedly on the line.
"I don't think it's fair to my family," he said after the the Titans beat the Kansas City Chiefs 22-21, per Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com. "When it has an effect on my family, it has an effect on me. So it had a big effect on me.
"I haven't had any support to say I was [safe]. I just assumed the worst."
"Coach Mularkey had done an incredible job of handling this entire situation, and I think he's done a great job of keeping this team together, keeping us focused on our task at hand," quarterback Marcus Mariota said, per Wolfe. "He's done a great job."
In two-and-a-half seasons as head coach of the Titans, Mularkey is 21-21, including consecutive 9-7 seasons. But Mariota regressed in 2017, throwing a career-worst 13 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions, calling into question whether Mularkey put his quarterback in the best position to succeed.
"Tennessee has to decide is Mariota not good or is Mularkey not a good coach," football analyst Michael Lombardi tweeted Saturday. "They can't come back together it doesn't work."
Added B/R's Ian Kenyon on Sunday: "I understand that they're in the divisional round of the playoffs. But their [head coach] completely stagnated their offense all season. There's no reason to retain Mularkey."
Field Yates of ESPN offered a dissenting viewpoint.
"When the Titans were essentially rudderless, Mike Mularkey stepped in as the interim head coach and played an integral role in getting this team on track," Yates tweeted. "Players respect him immensely, appreciate him."
Strunk's vote of confidence Sunday will be divisive between those who believe Mularkey is holding Mariota and the Titans back and those who believe he deserves credit for consecutive nine-win seasons and Saturday's playoff win. Regardless, it appears Mularkey will have one more season to prove his worth in Tennessee.