Mike Mularkey has been a hot head-coaching candidate for a number of years, but now he’s finally getting a chance.
Mularkey has been hired as the next head coach of the Jaguars.
Okay, technically he had his chance in Buffalo in 2004, but his demise with the Bills had little to do with on-field success and more to do with the fact it was, well, Buffalo. He left the Bills on his own accord when the team brought in dinosaur Marv Levy to oversee personnel following the 2005 season.
But he coached the Bills during their only winning season of the last 11 years, and his work since as offensive coordinator in Atlanta speaks for itself.
With a little help from Matt Ryan and Michael Turner, Mularkey took an offense that averaged just 16.2 points per game in 2007 and improved that number to 24.4 in 2008, 22.7 in 2009, 25.9 in 2010 and 25.1 in 2011. He also had quite a lot of success with the Steelers earlier in the decade, which is what earned him his shot in Western New York.
Falcons fans’ last memory of Mularkey in Atlanta won’t be a good one, as his offense was shut out by the Giants in a wild-card game Sunday. The Falcons went 0-3 in the playoffs during his reign over the offense, and Mularkey hasn’t won a postseason game as a coach or coordinator since 2002.
He’ll have his work cut out for him in Jacksonville, where he inherits the league’s worst offense and a tremendous project in Blaine Gabbert. The idea, of course, is that Mularkey will find a way to turn Gabbert into a franchise quarterback, just like he did with Ryan in Atlanta.
Have fun with that…
On the bright side, he’s got the reigning rushing champion in Maurice Jones-Drew and a decent offensive line with young pieces in place.
The distance between zero and hero is quite small in the NFL, where it doesn’t take long to climb the standings from year to year. It won’t be an easy task, but Mularkey deserves an opportunity to deliver on what he never got a chance to finish in Buffalo.