NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans' new general manager made a passionate plea for patience Monday as he takes over a franchise at its lowest point in more than 30 years with a head coach getting his third chance in the NFL in Mike Mularkey.
"This is my home, and you guys are my family," said Jon Robinson, a Union City, Tennessee native.
"I've been a Titan fan ever since '97 when this football team moved here. We're going to build this team the right way. All decisions that we make will be made in the best interest of this team, your football team. Please let us earn your support."
Robinson became emotional wrapping up the Titans' nearly hour-long news conference Monday introducing both the new general manager and Mularkey, who had the interim tag removed Saturday.
Robinson talked about how he learned the value of hard work watching his father take care of a 10-acre farm in West Tennessee while working more than 30 years at a tire factory.
Trying to make a personal connection with fans can only help the new general manager trying to revive a franchise that has gone an NFL-worst 5-27 the past two seasons in this team's worst two-year stretch since 1983-84 in Houston.
The number of empty seats keeps growing with only one winning record in the past seven seasons and the last playoff victory in January 2004.
Robinson has final roster control, the No. 1 pick overall in the April draft, the No. 2 pick in last year's draft in quarterback Marcus Mariota and more than $20 million in salary cap space to start rebuilding. Now he gets the chance to prove what he learned working in New England for 12 years and Tampa Bay the past two seasons.
"It really feels good to be home," Robinson said.
He will be working with a coach in Mularkey who has an 18-39 record as a head coach in stops at Buffalo, Jacksonville and his interim stint replacing Ken Whisenhunt on Nov. 3.
The decision to hire Mularkey after the Titans interviewed three other candidates — announced during New England's divisional playoff win over Kansas City — has angered fans wanting a fresh face as coach.
Mularkey is just 4-21 over his past 25 games, and he refused to talk Monday about what went wrong in Buffalo or Jacksonville. He defended himself as a good coach and noted other coaches have won when given another chance.
Mularkey said he's thrilled at getting a fresh start with the Titans after being put in a tough position over the final nine weeks of the season.
"I'm going to surround myself with people that have the same feelings that I do, the same beliefs, the same coaching style and these guys know what they're getting, the players know. They saw me for nine weeks. They know what they're getting."
Mularkey said he learned a lot during those final nine weeks. He said he saw a lot of things that need changing that he couldn't at the time.
"It's not like starting brand new," Mularkey said. "I know what changes need to be made, and fortunately, I get a chance to change them."
Mularkey plans to make changes on offense and special teams with "multiple" coaching changes coming. He's also busy interviewing, hiring and evaluating; offensive coordinator Jason Michaels is staying on staff as quarterbacks coach to work with Mariota.
Continuity with Mariota was one reason cited by the Titans in their hiring of Mularkey, and he said his offense will be "user-friendly" with more streamlined language.
Atlanta wide receivers Terry Robiskie is one of three candidates Mularkey is interviewing for the vacant offensive coordinator position. Mularkey also expects Dick LeBeau to stick around, though Mularkey said he's still talking with defensive coordinator Ray Horton, the last candidate the Titans interviewed for head coach before hiring Mularkey.