Owners of NFL teams never have been known for their patience, but they are outdoing themselves this season. Whisenhunt lasted only 23 games over two seasons as coach of the Titans, going 3-20. Tennessee is 1-6 this season as the team works to develop prized young quarterback Marcus Mariota, chosen second overall in this year’s NFL draft.
“Firing coaches after 1.5 seasons on the job says as much about the hiring process as it does coaching competency,” former NFL player, scout and front office executive Louis Riddick, now a studio analyst for ESPN, wrote on Twitter.
It is the way of the NFL: Coaches and quarterbacks get most of the credit when things go well. They also receive the bulk of the blame when things fall apart. The upheaval league-wide early this week also includes quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has started a Super Bowl for the 49ers, being benched in San Francisco.
Whisenhunt has lost 31 of his last 35 games as an NFL head coach with Arizona and Tennessee. Yet he also has demonstrated that he won’t keep a team from winning when it is ready to win. He took the Cardinals to a Super Bowl in the 2008 season with Kurt Warner at quarterback. Warner wrote Tuesday on Twitter that one thing he hates about the NFL is the “lack of patience [for] players and coaches.”
Another quarterback who played for Whisenhunt in Arizona, Matt Leinart, wasn’t as kind on social media.
“Titans coach fired. Now Marcus Mariota has a chance!” Leinart wrote on Twitter.
The Titans actually seem to have done a nice job of helping Mariota make his adjustment to the NFL. He has nine touchdown passes, five interceptions and a passer rating of 93.2 through five games. He missed the last two games, losses for Tennessee started by Zach Mettenberger, because of a knee injury but could return to the lineup Sunday at New Orleans. That will be the debut of interim coach Mike Mularkey.
Mularkey is promising to make some schematic and philosophical changes to the Tennessee offense. He can only hope he has the same impact as an interim coach that Dan Campbell had after replacing Philbin with the Dolphins, winning his first two games before losing in lopsided fashion last Thursday night at New England. Mularkey has been an NFL head coach in Buffalo and Jacksonville, going a combined 16-32 in two seasons with the Bills and one season with the Jaguars.
It took no time Tuesday for speculation to commence that Philadelphia Eagles Coach Chip Kelly, who coached Mariota in college at Oregon, eventually could end up rejoining his former college pupil in Tennessee.
But for now, the Titans have a season to finish.