Skip to main content

5 Candidates to be the Tennessee Titans' Next Head Coach

Chip Kelly

Chip Kelly

In late April, the Tennessee Titans drafted quarterback Marcus Mariota with the second pick in the NFL Draft. Ken Whisenhunt got to coach Mariota for less than half of a season, as he was shown the door after the team started 1-6.

Image placeholder title

Mike Mularkey became the Titans interim head coach in Week 9, but he could only generate two wins (2-7), both over teams that finished with losing records of their own. So it’s unlikely Mularkey will see the interim tag removed from his title.

Tennessee also is looking for a new general manager following Monday's announcement that the team would not be extending the contract of Ruston Webster. Steve Underwood has been named permanent team president and CEO (he was serving as the interim), and he will be the person to lead the search for the Titans' next general manager and head coach. Whether the new GM will be in place to help find the new head coach remains to be seen.

No matter who gets the Tennessee head coaching job, they will have a great young quarterback in Mariota and a number of promising young players.

So who are some of the top candidates for the Titans job?

Hue Jackson

Because the Cincinnati Bengals are playing during Wild Card Weekend, Jackson cannot be interviewed until either the team is eliminated from the playoffs or during the Super Bowl’s bye week.

Jackson has an extensive offensive history in the NFL as he has been an offensive coordinator for the Bengals, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons and most notably the Oakland Raiders. It was in Oakland that he was promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach after then-Raiders owner Al Davis fired Tom Cable following the 2010 season.

In his only year with the Raiders in 2011, Jackson finished 8-8 before being fired after the team made a number of front office changes following Davis’ death.

Before his thumb injury, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was having the best season of his five-year career. Dalton set career highs in completion percentage (66.1), yards per completion (8.42) and quarterback rating (106.3) and a umber of analysts have given Jackson credit for that.

If Jackson has gotten the most out of Dalton, just imagine what he could do with a quarterback that has the skill set of a Marcus Mariota.

Chip Kelly

Of course Kelly has to be a candidate for the Titans head coaching job. After all, the former Philadelphia Eagles head coach also is the man who recruited Mariota to the University of Oregon.

Kelly’s system is the same offensive playbook Mariota ran in college, so that is a plus. He also could possibly improve the Titans' offense, which finished 30th in the NFL in 2015.

The negatives about Kelly is the way he left Philadelphia. Kelly ran a number of players out of town (DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, etc.) and he didn’t leave on the best of terms with the Eagles' front office.

Kelly did go 10-6 with an NFC East Division title in his first two seasons with the Eagles before falling to a 6-9 prior to his dismissal on Dec. 29.

Related: 5 Potential Landing Spots for Chip Kelly in 2016

Josh McDaniels

The former Denver Broncos head coach and current New England Patriots offensive coordinator figures to draw plenty of interest among team with openings. The Titans' job could be a chance for him to work with a talented quarterback, something he didn’t exactly have in his two seasons in Denver.

Before coaching a game for the Broncos in 2009, McDaniels traded quarterback Jay Cutler to the Chicago Bears for Kyle Orton and draft picks.

In his first season for the Broncos, McDaniels finished 8-8. He was fired 12 games into his second season in 2010, as Denver struggled to a 3-9 record.

This season the Patriots were one of the best offenses in the NFL, ranking sixth in total offense and third in points per game with 29.1. Hiring McDaniels could prove to be an excellent fit for the Titans.

Adam Gase

Like McDaniels, Gase, the Bears' offensive coordinator, is one of the hottest coordinators in coaching circles and the Titans are probably just one of the teams that will request an interview with the 37-year-old.

This season, Gase helped Jay Cutler have one of his most productive seasons, as he finished with a quarterback rating of 92.3, which is the best of his 10-year career. Prior to Gase’s arrival, Cutler was prone to throwing multiple interceptions in a game, something he did just once in 2015.

Gase also is scheduled to meet with the Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns and the Philadelphia Eagles about their head coaching vacancies. So the Titans will have some competition.

Dirk Koetter

One interesting name people should keep an eye on is Koetter, who currently serves as Tampa Bay's offensive coordinator. Not only did Koetter do a good job with possible rookie of the year Jameis Winston, but he also made the Buccaneers one of the better offenses in the league.

Tampa Bay ended the season ranked fifth in total offense with an average of 376 yards per game. The team also managed 21.4 points per game, which is up from 2014's mark of 17.3.

Koetter’s play-calling maximized the strengths of the Buccaneers' offense and was a big reason the team were in a number of games this season.

With the quick turnaround of the Buccaneers' offense, Koetter could be a sleeper candidate for the Titans job.

— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.