The new owner of the National Football Leagueâ€™s Jacksonville Jaguars, Pakistani-American auto-parts tycoon Shahid Khan, has his first head coach. Mike Mularkey, most recently Offensive Coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons, will be hired as the fourth head coach in Jacksonville Jaguars history.
The hiring comes 40 days after the Jaguars fired Jack Del Rio, who was in his ninth year with the franchise, after a 3-8 start this season. Mularkey interviewed in Atlanta this week, one of three offensive coordinators known to have interviewed for the position so far. Paramount for the Jaguars will be developing quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who the Jaguars drafted 10th overall in last yearâ€™s draft, and Mularkey was part of the quick development of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Ryan was drafted out of Boston College in 2008, the same year Mularkey became the Falcons offensive coordinator. Ryan threw for 3,440 yards in his rookie year and had an 87.7 passer rating with 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. In the 2011 season, Ryan threw for 4,177 yards with 29 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He had a passer rating of 92.2.
Mularkey, 50, was previously head coach with the Buffalo Bills, and went 9-7 in 2004 and 5-11 in 2005. Mularkeyâ€™s Falcons were eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday in a 24-2 loss to the New York Giants.
Mulkarkey, a Miami native, is familiar with the area, having played for the University of Florida. He played tight end in the NFL for nine seasons (1983-91), six with the Minnesota Vikings and three with the Pittsburgh Steelers. His son, Patrick, is a scout for the Jaguars.
Mike Mularkey became the Falconsâ€™ offensive coordinator after a two-year stint as an assistant coach under Nick Saban with the Miami Dolphins. Mularkey was an offensive coordinator under Saban in 2006 and was scheduled to interview for the Dolphinsâ€™ head coach opening this week. Mularkey began his pro coaching career as a tight ends coach for Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh, then became the Steelers offensive coordinator from 2001-03 before going to Buffalo.
The Jaguars also interviewed Jaguars interim coach Mel Tucker, Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski. The move is sure to be questioned in many circles, however, as Mularkey headed an offense in Atlanta that was felt by most observers to have overachieved. But in the end it was Mularkeyâ€™s history with Jacksonville general manager Gene Smith that appears to have gotten him the job. Hopefully Shahid Khanâ€™s faith in Gene Smith has not been misplaced.