Three years later Mike Mularkey finally has a job with the Tennessee Titans.
And he’s bored.
OK, so bored is too strong a word. He is, however, not nearly as busy as he is accustomed to being. For more than a decade he was either an offensive coordinator or a head coach so his current role as Titans tight end coach places fewer demands on his time.
“I’m actually looking for more to organize,” Mularkey said. “It’s kind of a step back because you’re pulled in so many different directions (as a head coach). I have found myself thinking, ‘What do I do with my time now?’”
Mularkey’s rise to the highest levels of his profession began in 1996, his fourth year in coaching when he was named tight ends coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2001 and spent all but one of the next dozen years in a high-profile position, including two short stints as a head coach.
His longest stay of the last decade was a four-year run as offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons, the Titans’ next preseason opponent (6 p.m., Saturday, WKRN-TV Ch. 2).
A look at the coaching positions Mike Mularkey has held:
• Offensive line coach, Concordia College (1993)
• Offensive quality control coach, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1994)
• Tight ends coach, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1995)
• Tight ends coach, Pittsburgh Steelers (1996-2000)
ª Offensive coordinator, Pittsburgh Steelers (2001-03)
• Head coach, Buffalo Bills (2004-05)
• Offensive coordinator, Miami Dolphins (2006)
• Tight ends coach, Miami Dolphins (2007)
• Offensive coordinator, Atlanta Falcons (2008-11)
• Head coach, Jacksonville Jaguars (2012)
“I know my role,” Mularkey said. “I understand my role. I’m doing what I do best right now, which is coach tight ends.
“…I do have more time. Even as a coordinator I didn’t have the time that I have now. So I’ve been able to spend a little more one-on-one time, what I want to do in this position.”
While his career has come full circle in terms of his job, it has reversed itself in terms of one notable co-worker. When he left the Steelers to become head coach in Buffalo his replacement was Ken Whisenhunt, who was promoted from tight ends coach. Whisenhunt, of course, is now his boss with the Titans.
“We kind of worked our way through the system as tight end coaches, and at the time I think tight end coaches weren’t considered to be capable of being coordinators,” Mularkey said. “I think we kind of broke that mold.”
The Titans viewed him as a legitimate head coach long before they hired him for his current – smaller – role.
Mularkey was one of two exterior candidates (Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell was the other) who interviewed following Jeff Fisher’s departure early in 2011. That job eventually went to Mike Munchak, who was fired following last season.
“I kind of knew that I was not going to get it because I knew that (Munchak) was such a fan favorite and an organization favorite,” Mularkey said. “My intention when I came in here was to make them think about it. If I could just have them go, ‘Hey, let’s think about it overnight.’
“I think I made them think about it but I kind of knew I was against the odds for that.”
Now that he's here, he has a lot less on his mind.
POSTDATA: WARRANTY DEEDS