Jason Michael has held the title of offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans since the start of the 2014 season, but because former head coach Ken Whisenhunt called his own plays it has been Michael who has stood in the shadows on gameday with only an consultant role in how the game plays out for the offense with Whisenhunt calling the shots.
That all changed on Tuesday with the announcement that Whisenhunt had been relieved of his duties as head coach.
Mike Mularkey was tabbed as the interim head coach to replace Whisenhunt and one of the first decisions Mularkey made was to allow Michael to become the team's play caller.
A former offensvie coordinator and play caller himself, Mularkey could have opted to follow his predicessors lead and call his own plays rather than to put that responsibility on an offensive coordinator who has never called plays in a game in his carrer. Instead Mularkey chose to place his trust in Michael and allow him to fill the role that comes with his official title, thus allowing Mularkey to concentrate on other aspects of game management.
On Thursday it was Michael's time to meet the media for the first time since the coaching change and for the first time as the team's play caller and his excitement for the new opportunity.
"It is.When you're in this game and you;re climbing up through the positions your in, you know, I've been fortunate to be around a lot of good coaches, a lot of good play callers and you take notes as you go," said Michael. "You thing about those things when you get the opportunites and you prepare yourself for that."
Michael who has been in the booth during his tenure with the Titans, and will continue to work from above now admitted that even that experience was in preparation for this moment.
"For sure, and that's the thing that most people don't think about," added Michael. "The game planning part is done throughout the week as a staff and that's what we're preparing for during the week."
"When you get into the game you've talked through those scenarios and situations so when you get into the situations like down and distance, when you're in the red zone, when you;re in the two-minute what are you wanting to do and those things are thought out ahead of time," continued Michael. "So when you get into the game it is about reacting and a matter of calling those plays as you get into the situations. Things are being talked about here and that's how we plan for a game."
Michael admitted that gaining experience as a play caller would be a benefit to his career in the future.
"It's a situation you don't want to be in first off because of the way it goes about," stated Michael in reference to Whisenhunt's firing leading to his opportunity. "You never want this situation to happen. You know, I have a lot of respect for and feel greatful to Coach Whisenhunt and I don't want it to be in this situation but the opportunity is here, this is the role I've been given and I'm excited about that part."
Michael, who is entering his eleventh season as a coach, the last eight in the NFL and most recently as the tight ends coach (2-11-13) for San Diego prior to joining the Titans staff, is a native of Louisa, Kentucky, a small town in eastern Kentucky and just over 300 miles away from Nashville.
Michael spent his college years as a quarterback at Western Kenucky University where he quarterbacked the Hilltoppers football team to the 2002 NCAA I-AA championship with a 34-14 win over McNeese State. He was named the schools male athlete of the year in 2003.
Michael began his coaching career as a graduate assistant in 2003 at the University of Tennessee where he assisted with the secondary and special teams for two seasons under then head coach Phil Fulmer for two seasons.