There was a moment during the seven-hour interview in Atlanta that Jaguars owner Shahid Khan and general manager Gene Smith stepped out of the room. Smith and Khan were gone for a while, leaving Mularkey by himself. "It’s either really good, or it’s really bad," Mularkey quipped Wednesday afternoon. In truth, he felt a positive vibe.
One of the first things new Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey did Wednesday when he arrived in Jacksonville was have a one-on-one talk with young quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Mularkey’s ability to mentor Gabbert will be a key in his bid to turn the Jaguars around. Gabbert has the lowest passer rating in the NFL this season (65.5) and the Jaguars had the worst offense in the league despite having the league’s leading rusher in
Maurice Jones-Drew.Mularkey sees previous stops as learning opportunities | jacksonville.com
Mike Mularkey was in the mix for the Jaguars’ coaching job in 2003 before Jack Del Rio was hired. He said Jaguars fans can count on one thing: He’s picked up more knowledge and experience at his three NFL stops since then, as the head coach for the Buffalo Bills in 2004 and 2005, then as an assistant with Miami and Atlanta before accepting the Jaguars job Wednesday."
Tom Donahoe, who was general manager of the Buffalo Bills in 2004 when he gave Mike Mularkey his first head coaching job, endorsed the Jaguars’ decision to give him a second chance on Wednesday. "He’s an outstanding candidate to be a head coach," Donahoe said "He’s a tough guy who understands the game and what it takes in terms of practice, and offensively he’s very creative. He does a good job of utilizing personnel."
Blaine Gabbert sent the text Wednesday morning. And when he and Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan talked soon thereafter, Gabbert – the Jaguars’ quarterback who will enter his second NFL season this year – heard what he expected to hear, and what he wanted to hear as well: That with Mike Mularkey as the Jaguars’ head coach, Gabbert is in good hands. "He had nothing but extremely positive things to say," Gabbert said of Ryan.
Aaron Kampman heard the news Wednesday morning. Driving to EverBank Field, the Jaguars veteran defensive end’s cell phone rang. It was his wife with some pertinent news: "Hey, you have a new head coach." "Really, who is it?" he replied.
Mike Mularkey knew the feeling in the room was special. Mularkey, an 18-year NFL coaching veteran who on Tuesday evening got a second opportunity at a position for which he worked much of his life, said from early in the day Tuesday it was clear something positive, with potential, was occurring.
I’m hearing the grumbling: Uninspired retread. No pizzazz. A yawner. Complain about Mike Mularkey as the Jaguars head coach if you like, but owner Shahid Khan said the hire wasn’t about splash, it was about smart and people will come to see the franchise smartly hired a smart coach. Pitting "splash: against "smart" was smart of Khan.