NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans have hired Mike Mularkey as head coach, the team announced Saturday.
Mularkey served as the Titans' interim coach for the final nine games of 2015. All indications since the season ended were that ownership had a preference for Mularkey as the full-time head coach.
"I am honored to be named the head coach of the Titans," Mularkey said in a statement released by the team. "I will give all that I have to make this team successful and our city and fans proud.
"The last two months of the season were extremely valuable in order to understand our personnel and instill some of our values and standard of play, so we won't be starting from scratch. With that as a basis, we will now be installing some new systems and bringing in new coaches and players to build on what we have started. There is plenty of work to be done until we reach our goal, but we will all work tirelessly to get us there."
Quarterback Marcus Mariota, who developed a good relationship with Mularkey during his rookie season, said he was happy with the news.
"Our relationship has been great,'' Mariota told TitansOnline.com. "He did an incredible job with what happened this year and handling everything. I am very excited to have him as a coach, and I look forward to getting to work.
"I am sure guys are excited. He's definitely a players' coach, and we are very blessed to have him. We can't wait to move forward."
Mariota finished the season with a 62.2 completion percentage and passed for 2,818 yards with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He was sacked 38 times and posted a 91.5 passer rating. He also ran 34 times for 252 yards and two touchdowns and caught a 41-yard TD pass. The Titans were 3-9 in his starts.
Mariota said he felt continuity was important.
"I think for a lot of us, we were anxious to kind of find out what was going on," Mariota told TitansOnline.com. "I am glad the organization took its time and decided what was best for us as a team. I am happy for Coach Mularkey. Moving forward, he just said we just have to take it one day at a time and trust what is going on now and find ways to improve, find ways to get better, and he looks forward to getting to work."
The Titans did not retain general manager Ruston Webster, and on Thursday they hired Tampa Bay executive Jon Robinson to replace him. The Titans then interviewed three coaching candidates in addition to Mularkey: former Bills coach and current Jaguars assistant Doug Marrone; Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austi; and Ray Horton, the Titans' defensive coordinator.
A news conference is scheduled Monday to introduce Mularkey and Robinson.
"The vision Mike presented for our football team during this search as well as the character, integrity, and leadership skills he displayed during the last two months of the season makes him the right coach for the Tennessee Titans," Amy Adams Strunk, the Titans' owner and co-chairman of the board of directors, said in a statement. "Mike is a quality coach and an outstanding person who will help us build this team the right way.
"He has experience as a head coach and a track record for developing young quarterbacks and dynamic offenses, and he also brings continuity for our franchise quarterback. We understand this may take time as we rebuild the roster and bring in new coaches for Mike's staff, but we believe he has the experience and expertise to build a consistent winner."
Mularkey is likely to make significant changes to the coaching staff he inherited when Ken Whisenhunt was fired Nov. 3, 2015. Many of the remaining assistants have deals that expire Feb. 15.
Three were given permission to interview and already have moved on. Shawn Jefferson is coaching receivers in Miami, Giff Smith has taken over the defensive line in San Diego, and Nate Kaczor is overseeing special teams for Tampa Bay. Horton could be in line to join the Cleveland Browns as their defensive coordinator.
Mularkey coached the Buffalo Bills in 2004-05, posting 9-7 and 5-11 records. He coached the 2012 Jacksonville Jaguars to a 2-14 mark before coming to the Titans as the tight ends coach. The Titans were 2-7 after he took over for Whisenhunt.
That's a career record of 18-39, which will make him a hard sell for a franchise that has won five games in the last two seasons and holds the top pick in the draft.