2016 season for the Tennessee Titans was a positive one. They ended with a 9-7 record, second in the AFC South and just missed the playoffs, being tied with the Houston Texans but losing out on a tie breaker. They lost their second to last game of the season when quarterback Marcus Mariota went down with a broken fibula. Winning that game would’ve given them the division title. They had five pro-bowl players and were going into the off-season with the needle pointing up. This was Mike Mularkey’s first full season as head coach after becoming interim coach in November of 2015.
It was kind of an odd season in that the team didn’t necessarily get better, but those around them got worse. Under Mularkey the team went 9-7 and finished second in their division, exactly as they did in 2016. The difference being that their 9-7 was good enough for a wild card spot where they went on to beat the Kansas City Chiefs 22-21 with Mariota becoming the first quarterback in Playoff history to throw a touchdown to himself. They would lose the following week to the New England Patriots. They had six players make the pro-bowl. Surprisingly, after making the playoffs and winning the first game, the team decided to part ways with coach Mularkey.
The Tennessee Titans will go into the 2018 season with a new, first time head coach in former player Mike Vrabel. He has hired offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur and defensive coordinator Dean Pees so far along with a handful of assistants. LaFleur has had success working with quarterbacks Jared Goff and Matt Ryan, which he will be looking to repeat with Mariota. The 24-year old quarterback is coming off a season where his 79.3 rating was well below his career 86.6 and will be looking to improve that in his fourth season. Pees has been a coordinator with the Patriots and Ravens, being in the top 10 six of the ten years he’s coached.
Where the team one three of their last four regular season games in 2016, the opposite happened in 2017 with them losing 3 of their final four, meaning the almost backed into the playoffs and could’ve been one of the reasons for the coaching change. The team has a strong, young base of players to work with going into the new season. The key will be how well they take to the new systems. This will be Mariota’s third offensive coordinator in four years, not an ideal situation for a young quarterback.