Whisenhunt’s Job May Have Come Down to Leaving Injured Rookie Mariota In

Atlanta Falcons v Tennessee Titans

The hit that injured Titans rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota’s knee last month may have been the beginning of the end for Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt, who was fired Tuesday morning in a move that caught just about everyone around the team off-guard, Tom Pelissero of USA Today reports.

Mariota didn’t miss a snap Oct. 18 after a low, late hit from Miami Dolphins end Olivier Vernon left the No. 2 overall draft pick with a sprained medial collateral ligament, even though Mariota initially was limping to the point it was unclear whether he could protect himself.

Wearing a brace on his left knee after halftime, Mariota finished with four turnovers. He took another illegal, high hit from Vernon. The Titans were down 38-10 before Whisenhunt finally pulled Mariota in the final two minutes.

Mariota hasn’t played since. He also has been dealing with a high ankle sprain since Week 1. And Titans interim president/CEO Steve Underwood made clear Tuesday that controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk is keeping close tabs on the situation.

Asked in a media conference if there was concern from ownership that leaving in Mariota against Miami caused additional damage, Underwood said: “I didn’t hear that exact concern. (But Strunk) has repeatedly mentioned Marcus’ health to me.

“I think she actually spoke to Mike (Mularkey, the Titans’ interim coach) about it this morning. I know she he had talked to Ken about it and to Ruston (Webster, the general manager). She’s very concerned about making sure that we do everything that’s necessary, including keeping him out of games, in order to avoid making his current injuries any worse.”


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