When the Crucial Quarter starts, which Coach gets the job done?
The final 15 minutes. Comebacks. Collapses. The quarter that tests the will of a team. Conditioning is tested. Hard work and relentless effort usually prevails.
The total number of points Ken Whisenhunt’s Titans scored in the fourth quarter is 63. In 23 games, that averages about 3 points/per 4th quarter. Mike Mulakey’s team scored a total of 151 points. This averages to 6 points/per 4th quarter.
The averages suggest the Mularkey-led team more than doubled the point production of Whisenhunt’s squad. Mularkey averaged at least a touchdown, whereas Whisenhunt would be lucky to score a field goal.
Offense in the First
Whisenhunt’s team scored 7 total touchdowns in the 4th quarter (30%). In 12 of 23 games, the Whisenhunt-led team was scoreless in the fourth (30%). Mularkey’s team has been shut out 6 times in the 4th quarter (24%).
Whisenhunt never put up more than 7 in the final period of play. Mularkey had 21 against the Jaguars in the 2015 season.
Mularkey’s team scored 17 total 4thquarter touchdowns (68%). The Mularkey-led Titans often found themselves within reach in the final quarter. Offensively, they could score touchdowns in the closing minutes.
Defense in the First
Defensively, Whisenhunt’s team allowed 178 points, which was only a one-point difference more than the Mularkey-led team with 177. The Whisenhunt-led team allowed 21 opponent touchdowns in the fourth quarter (91%). The Mularkey-led team also allowed 21 touchdowns in the 4th (84%).
Whisenhunt’s team kept opponents scoreless twice in fourth quarters (9%). Mularkey’s team held opponents to zero points in 7 out of 25 4th quarters (28%). 6 of the 7 came last season – 4 of which were in the first 5 weeks.
The most points Whisenhunt’s team allowed in the final quarter is 21 – against the Colts in 2015. In a game that looked to end the Colt’s winning streak, the Titans fell flat in the fourth and dropped a close one to their Indianapolis rival.
The most points Mularkey’s team has allowed in the fourth is 20 – which also was against an AFC South foe – the Jaguars.
Playing from Behind and Protecting the Lead
Whisenhunt’s team was outscored in the 4th quarter in 18 of 23 games (78%). Mularkey’s was outscored in the 4th quarter in 11 of 25 games (44%). Whisenhunt’s record was 2-16 in games he was outscored in the 4th(11%). Mularkey’s record is 5-5 when outscored in the fourth period of play (50%).
What the statistics indicate is Whisenhunt was more likely to be outscored and lose games in the 4th quarter. They also reflect that although Mularkey may be outscored, there is a 50-50 chance the Titans will find a way to win.
Either he’ll have produced enough points in the first 3 quarters or his offense will generate a game winning drive to take the lead and a win.
With Whisenhunt – if he was outscored, it was a wrap. Game over.
The numbers show the better coach to have on the sideline in the fourth is Mike Mularkey. He doubled the amount of touchdowns scored in the 4th quarter. Whisenhunt was outscored in ¾ of the 4th quarters he coached. With Mularkey, he was outscored less than half of the 4th quarters coached.
More points. More wins. 50-50 shot with the game on the line, Mularkey is the answer.
***I do not claim any credit for the photographs featured in this article. All credit goes to the respective author(s). Statistics referenced at nfl.com***