There more changes from the NFL on this “Black Monday,” as the Tennessee Titans have announced a shakeup to their front office, reported the team’s official website. The Titans will not renew the contract of executive vice president and general manager Ruston Webster, and the interim label has been removed from Steve Underwood’s title of team president and chief executive officer. In addition, Vice President of Football Administration Vin Marino will be in charge of all football operations as the Titans begin their hunt for a new general manager.
The front-office makeover comes on the heels of a 3-13 season, just a one-win improvement from their 2014 campaign. Ken Whisenhunt was fired as the Titans’ head coach after starting his second season just 1-6 and compiling that 2-14 mark in his first year in Tennessee. Mike Mularkey served as the interim head coach for the final nine games this season, not faring much better at 2-7. The team will conduct its search for both a head coach and general manager beginning this week, and Mularkey will have the opportunity to interview for the role he filled on an interim basis.
Former general manager Ruston Webster had held the position since January 2012, with a two-year stint as vice president of player personnel prior to that. The Titans compiled an 18-46 record with Webster in control without a single playoff appearance. He released this statement through the organization.
“I want to thank the Titans organization for the opportunity to be their general manager over the last four seasons. I have always had the best interests of the franchise in mind and did my best to move this franchise forward. The most important thing to me are the relationships I built within the building and the Nashville community. My family and I will be forever grateful, and we wish the franchise the best of luck in the future.”
The Titans have not been to the playoffs since 2008, the seventh-longest active postseason drought in the NFL. Titans Controlling Owner and Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors Amy Adams Strunk released this statement regarding Steve Underwood who has been with the organization for 35 years in a variety of capacities.
“Today, I am glad to announce that Steve Underwood will be continuing in his role as our president and chief executive officer on a permanent basis. I have had ongoing discussions with Steve on this issue for a while, and I feel his leadership is vital in order to move us forward. He has brought much-needed stability to our organization, and I look forward to progress that will be made under his leadership.”
With just five wins in the last two years, the current state of the Titans does not appear very fruitful. But a new head coach and general manager could be looking at a bright future if given ample time. With the second pick in last year’s NFL Draft, the Titans drafted a potential franchise quarterback in Marcus Mariota. This year, by virtue of a tiebreaker, the Titans will have the number one overall pick. They could select the best player available or shop the pick in return for a bevy of assets.
Mike Mularkey, who also served short head-coaching stints in Jacksonville and Buffalo, will get an opportunity to interview for the position along with names like Adam Gase, Teryl Austin, Doug Marrone, and Josh McDaniels. One name commonly linked to the job ever since the Titans fired Whisenhunt has been Chip Kelly. Kelly, who was recently released as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, coached Mariota while at the University of Oregon.
[Photo by Joe Howell/AP]