After a 3-20 record less than two seasons into his tenure, the Tennessee Titans decided to fire head coach Ken Whisenhunt on Tuesday morning. Assistant head coach/tight ends coach Mike Mularkey will serve as the Titans' interim head coach for the rest of the 2015 season.
"After thoughtful consideration, the decision has been made to relieve Ken Whisenhunt of his head coaching duties," Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk said in a press release by the team. "We have expected more progress on the field, and I felt it was time to move in a different direction. I would like to thank Ken for his efforts with our team, as he worked very hard to try to move us forward."
Whisenhunt signed a five-year contract with the Titans before the 2014 season. He was thought to be the Detroit Lions' first choice to replace former head coach Jim Schwartz, but Whisenhunt chose Tennessee instead.
Last season, the Titans went 2-14. The team drafted quarterback Marcus Mariota from Oregon with the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, but this season hasn’t been any better for the team.
Whisenhunt and the Titans began the season with a win on the road over Tampa Bay, but it appears that Sunday’s 20-6 loss, the sixth in a row for the team, to AFC South rival Houston was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Now that Whisenhunt is out in the Music City, who could be some of the candidates to replace him?
5. David Shaw, Stanford Head Coach
While Shaw has turned down NFL head coaching opportunities in the past, working with a quarterback with the skill set of Mariota may be enticing.
Shaw runs a pro-style offense and he has had success at Stanford since taking over for Jim Harbaugh in 2011. In five seasons in Palo Alto, Shaw has a 49-13 record with two Pac-12 championships. This season, Stanford has a 7-1 overall record, with a 6-0 record in Pac-12 play.
The 43-year-old Shaw does have NFL experience as he was a former assistant for the Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland Raiders and the Baltimore Ravens.
4. Sean McDermott, Carolina Panthers Defensive Coordinator
Since Whisenhunt’s specialty was offense, the Titans could choose to go the defensive route when deciding on their next head coach. While he isn’t a well-known name, McDermott could be a possible candidate for the Titans.
McDermott was hired by the Panthers in 2011 and he has turned their defense into one of the best in the league. Carolina has finished in the top 10 in total defense each of the last three seasons. In 2015, the Panthers are currently ninth in total defense, giving up an average of 342.6 yards per game.
3. Kyle Shanahan, Atlanta Falcons Offensive Coordinator
With a young mobile quarterback like Mariota, why wouldn’t the Titans target an offensive coordinator that fits his skill set? Shanahan worked with Robert Griffin III in Washington during his rookie season when Griffin threw for 3,200 yards and 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions.
While Shanahan is only 35, he has a ton of experience as he has been an offensive coordinator for the Texans, Redskins, Browns and currently the Falcons. Through eight games, Atlanta's offense is fourth in the NFL at 414.8 yards per game.
2. Josh McDaniels, New England Offensive Coordinator
With the success of the New England Patriots this season, McDaniels figures to be a popular head coaching candidate once again. New England is 7-0 and the offense ranks sixth in the NFL at 414.6 yards per game.
McDaniels was the head coach in Denver for nearly two years before being fired after Week 13 of the 2010 season. Many people believe he could follow the same career path as Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. Maybe with some maturity, McDaniels can find success with his second head coaching stint much like Belichick did.
1. Hue Jackson, Cincinnati Bengals Offensive Coordinator
The Cincinnati Bengals’ offense is averaging 28.3 points per game, which is the third best in the NFL. If the Bengals are this good under Jackson, just imagine what he could do with the potential of the Titans' offense?
Jackson should be credited with the turnaround of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. Through seven games, Dalton has thrown only four interceptions and is completing 66 percent of his passes.
In 2011, Jackson coached the Raiders to an 8-8 record before being fired by then-new general manager Reggie McKenzie after just one season. A number of former Bengals coordinators have landed head coaching gigs, so it just may be Jackson’s time after this season is over.
— 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.