NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans fired Ken Whisenhunt on Tuesday after he struggled to a 3-20 start in his tenure with the organization, with his latest defeat a 20-6 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday.
The Titans named Mike Mularkey as the interim coach for the rest of the season.
“We have expected more progress on the field, and I felt it was time to move in a different direction,” Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk said in a statement. “I would like to thank Ken for his efforts with our team, as he worked very hard to try to move us forward.”
Said team president Steve Underwood: “When you’re not winning and you can’t win, that’s when change happens in the NFL.”
The Titans, who scheduled a news conference for Tuesday afternoon, went 2-14 in Whisenhunt’s debut season. It was their worst record since 1994, after going 7-9 in 2013 under Mike Munchak. Tennessee drafted Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota out of Oregon with the No. 2 pick overall in April, then named him the starter.
The Titans won their opener, 42-14, at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, then lost their next six games. Three of the losses were by a combined six points, and Whisenhunt was just 1-11 at home.
The latest was a loss at Houston on Sunday, the 16th loss in 17 games for Tennessee, with Strunk and other family members watching in the city where the late Bud Adams founded the franchise. Strunk took over as controlling owner in March, replacing Tommy Smith, who hired Whisenhunt in January 2014.
Whisenhunt’s .130 winning percentage also ranks behind only Leeman Bennett with Tampa Bay and Rich Kotite with the New York Jets for the worst NFL coaching record since 1970. Whisenhunt tied with Jim Ringo, who went 3-20 with the Buffalo Bills.
Safety Michael Griffin, the longest-tenured player on the roster, wrote in a text message that anyone hates someone getting fired, but everyone knows this is a business.
“I will say I have a lot of respect for coach Whiz and I wish him the best,” Griffin wrote.
The Titans have started four rookies on offense this season, including Mariota, who has missed the last two games with a sprained MCL in his left knee. Tennessee currently ranks next to last in the NFL, averaging 17.9 points per game.
Mularkey arrived in Tennessee with Whisenhunt as tight ends coach and was promoted to assistant head coach this offseason. He coached the Buffalo Bills in 2004 and 2005 and the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2012 and played nine years in the NFL. Mularkey also has been an offensive coordinator with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons.
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