Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk has been embraced by fans and fellow NFL owners. At the NFL owners meetings, she said she wants to keep the momentum going.
“The fans have been like, ‘Way to go Amy. Keep it up. We love what you are doing with the team,” Strunk said on Monday from the NFL owners meetings. “And I hope when I’m with them it comes across as genuine, and that I enjoy being out there talking to them.
“It is so exciting when I talk to people and they are so encouraging. You do all this hard work, and it is just so nice that the fans appreciate how this team is progressing. They see the progress and we want to keep it going.”
The progress has been easy to see.
At the owners meetings a year ago, Strunk talked about her vision under recently hired general manager Jon Robinson, head coach Mike Mularkey and a team with some key free agent additions. She talked with optimism about the franchise moving forward.
Then the Titans went out and tripled the team’s win total from the previous season, winning nine games in 2016.
So far this offseason the Titans have added seven free agents – including three players expected to start on defense – while retaining several of their own free agents. Strunk likes the direction the team is headed with the NFL Draft approaching.
“Jon is going to keep adding pieces, which is going to hopefully help this team take the next step,” Strunk said. “I like what we’ve done in free agency, I think it is great. Jon has a plan, and there’s a process. He’s thinking years ahead about how he is fitting in these pieces now, and what we are going to have to do in the future.
“Looking ahead, if everyone keeps doing their part, this team is going to keep progressing and hopefully take that next step.”
Strunk, who took over as the team’s controlling owner in 2015, has made significant changes in the past few years. She said she’s been thrilled with the pairing of Robinson and Mularkey. Strunk opted to retain Mularkey, named interim head coach during the 2015 season, on a permanent basis in January of 2016. He helped change the mindset – and results – last season.
“I thought this would be a good partnership, and it’s turned out even better,’’ Strunk said of Robinson and Mularkey. “Because not only professionally do they mesh well, but personally they mesh well, too.”
The Titans have also made key acquisitions in free agency, and there have been significant upgrades at Nissan Stadium and Saint Thomas Sports Park in the past year.
Along the way, Strunk has gotten to some of the league’s owners better as well.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Chiefs owner Clark Hunt recently praised Strunk, and the work she’s done in Tennessee.
“I am a big fan of the owner down there,’’ Kraft said of Strunk. “I think she is trying to do the right things. … She’s making a great effort, and I know how important winning is to her, and also to running the organization in the best way she can to support the fans down there.
“And she seems willing to make the commitments that need to be done, and I think that is all you can ask for.”
Hunt, who has been involved in the leadership of the Chiefs for more than a decade, said he’s also been impressed with Strunk’s approach to running the franchise since taking over.
“Having faced the Titans on the field this year and unfortunately coming out on the wrong side of that, I think she is doing a fantastic job with team,’’ Hunt said of Strunk. “I think the team has a very bright future, and you really have to give her a lot of credit for that.
“She is somebody who has been around the business for a long time, and she understands the issues. She has been very, very committed. I know she is very, very involved and very passionate about the Titans.”
Strunk, recently named to the Hall of Fame board of trustees, said she’s appreciative of how owners have embraced her at league meetings.
“I try not to be pushy, but I want them to know I am doing my best to get the Titans back on track, and I am going to be a good partner,’’ Strunk said. “Hopefully they are seeing that and appreciate that the Titans are making progress.
“It is just nice to see other owners take notice of the Titans, and they’ve said some very nice things, about how we’re at the door. We’re knocking.”
During a break in between meetings on Monday at the Biltmore Hotel, Strunk touched on a number of other topics regarding the Titans.
Strunk said she’s talked to quarterback Marcus Mariota this offseason, and wished him well in his recovery process. Mariota suffered a fractured fibula in December at Jacksonville, and underwent surgery. He’s spent a good portion of the offseason rehabbing the injury in Oregon.
Mariota is currently back home in Hawaii, no longer in the cast and walking boot he was forced to wear for several months.
“I have talked to Marcus a couple of times and I know he is working hard to get back,” Strunk said. “When he was first injured I was all upset and he was like, “Aw Amy, it’s OK.” But that’s Marcus. He is going to work hard and he is going to be back.”
Strunk said she was happy to see so many Titans in the Pro Bowl in January. Running back DeMarco Murray, tight end Delanie Walker, tackle Taylor Lewan, defensive lineman Jurrell Casey and linebacker Brian Orakpo all made it on the heels of a 9-7 season.
“I was so proud,” Strunk said. “All of those guys deserved it, and it’s great to get recognition from other guys in the league. Jurrell Casey set the tone. He played hard, and it was fun to see that. All the guys I was so happy for them.”
As for the upcoming NFL Draft, Strunk said she plans to be in the war room in Nashville once again for the first round, when the Titans are scheduled to make two picks – at No.5 and No. 18.
She’s also been in regular contact with Robinson about what he might do on draft night, and about the possibility of a trade.
“I ask him all the time,’’ Strunk said with a smile. “But his plan is evolving, and things change.
“Right now, nothing is set in stone, and as he’s said, “we’re open for business.”