How much better is Mularkey compared to Whisenhunt?
Mike Mularkey took over Ken Whisenhunt’s head coaching duties and gained approval in his first game as interim Head Coach.
Mularkey helped orchestrate an overtime win against the New Orleans Saints. Some Titans fans prematurely jumped the gun and hypothesized that Whisenhunt must’ve been the problem.
Near the end of the season, praise for Mularkey had faded. Tennessee would scrape by Jacksonville in Week 13 of the 2015 season, 42-39. That would be their only win following their victory over the Saints. Fans were impatient and Mularkey’s seemed to be in the hot seat.
With changes to the front office, many wondered and some even hoped Mularkey would get the boot. Names like Josh McDaniels floated around, along with others. GM Jon Robinson decided to stay the course and choose consistency over a coaching carousel.
In hindsight, it turns out his seat wasn’t as hot as some projected. He remains the teams head coach and will head into his 2nd year as full-time head coach. Mularkey heads into his 3rd season with the team having the most talented roster the team has seen in some time. But what could Whisenhunt have done with a more talented group?
Comparing Whisenhunt to Mularkey may be irrelevant at this point since Whisenhunt will never be on the Titans sideline in a coaching capacity ever again. However, this post will focus on how the two compared during their time in Tennessee.
Mularkey has coached two more regular season Titan games than Whisenhunt, but game by game statistics can show how the two stack up against each other.
By the Quarter Totals
Mularkey has 8 more wins and 6 less losses compared to Whisenhunt. In looking at box score – a quarter by quarter breakdown – Mularkey outscored his predecessor by 50 in the 1st, 61 in the 2nd, and 99 in the 4th. Whiz edged out Mularkey in the 3rd by 26.
Offensively, the numbers show Mularkey is statistically better. However, it is important to note that the talent on the 2016 roster exceeded that of the 2015 roster.
Defensively, Whisenhunt held opponents to fewer points by 26 in the 1st and 23 in the 2nd. Mularkey held opponents to 3 fewer in the 3rd and 1 in the 4th.
Division and Coaching Mariota
In terms of the division, Mularkey coached two more games against division opponents. He recorded two more wins. However, both coaches have losing records in the division. If Mularkey wants to prove he is the better option over Whisenhunt, a winning record against the division is a must.
In reference to the talent, Whisenhunt had Mariota for 5 games. Mariota was unavailable against Atlanta and Houston following injury suffered following the Oliver Vernon hit in Miami. The Dolphins game would be Whisenhunt’s last opportunity to coach Mariota.
Mariota’s production under Whisenhunt is charted below.
Now, here is what Mariota’s stats looked like in the first 5 games coached by Mularkey.
Measuring how Mariota fared with the same roster for 5 games: he threw 3 more passes, gained 34 more yards, 1 more touchdown, 1 less interception, was sacked 8 less times, had 2 less fumbles, and 1 more win.
Not drastic differences, but small improvements none the less. In 5 games, Mularkey + Mariota were more productive than Whisenhunt+Mariota.
This will be Part 1 in this series. The next posts will be more in depth look at the quarter-by-quarter comparison between Mularkey and Whisenhunt.
***All credit for the photographs featured above goes to the respective author(s). I do not claim any credit for the photographs featured above. Statistics referenced from nfl.com. Statistical charts created by this author***