The Tennessee Titans are a fashionable pick to shock the NFL this season.

Many prognosticators have them making the playoffs for the first time since 2008, either as the AFC South champions or as a wild-card. And there are those who wouldn’t be the least bit shocked if the Titans did some damage in the postseason.

‘They come in here and they want to get better’

The optimism is mainly driven by the Titans’ talent. For coach Mike Mularkey, there’s even more to his team.

“It’s a special locker room,” Mularkey told Pat Kirwan and Jim Miller on Movin’ The Chains. “I like the way these guys care about each other. I like the way they come to work every day. We get so much done. I don’t know how many games we’re going to win. I just know that when I go home at night, I feel good about this football team and how they compete. And they come in here and they want to get better, and I just like the way they care about each other. That goes a long way.

‘I try to find the best I can, the good in everything bad’

“We have a great leadership group in the locker room. They know how important it is for me for them to be successful. Sometimes you’ve got to be hard on these guys, but I’m a really positive coach. I try to find the best I can, the good in everything bad. But you’ve got to be hard on them a little bit. They do respond. It’s a resilient group and that’s what I love about them.”

One player Mularkey finds it difficult to criticize is quarterback Marcus Mariota. The fact Mariota does so much right, on and off the field, leaves little room for second-guessing by the coach.

‘(Mariota) is very quiet, but very, very competitive’

“He’s a hard guy to say anything negative about,” Mularkey said. “He’s a student of the game because it’s so important to him, he spends so much time here. In practice, what he knows now, compared to what he knew two years ago when he got here, is all on him. He has a great quarterback coach with Jason Michael, but he spends a lot of time studying this game and his progress as far as understanding what’s about to happen before it happens has gotten better and better and better.

“Very quiet, but very, very competitive. He may be our most competitive player on our roster.”

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