The second day of the Astroturf NFLPA Collegiate Bowl saw a new running back stand out, and…
Mularkey's Philosophy Will Be Hands-Off
In Atlanta, they were unhappy that Mularkey was 0-3 in playoff games the last three years and think Koetter will give them a better deep passing game.
In Jacksonville, the Jaguars think Mularkey is the leader they need for the rebirth of the Jaguars who have won just one playoff game since 1999.
"He's a genuine guy and so he's very good to work with because he's open minded. He's got sound thoughts, when it comes to football in particular. I think he's got a lot of integrity," general manager Gene Smith said of Mularkey.
He's also an offensive coach because the Jaguars want to improve an offense that was the worst in the league last year.
But he will not call the plays and hired Bob Bratkowski, a long-time friend, to be the offensive coordinator to call the plays. He also plans to hire a quarterbacks coach to groom Blaine Gabbert, who struggled in his rookie season.
He also plans to hire a new wide receivers coach and one of the candidates is former Jaguars wide receiver Keenan McCardell. Mularkey said it is not a courtesy interview because McCardell was a popular former Jaguar.
And he plans to hire a new special teams coach and is interviewing former Florida and Illinois head coach Ron Zook.
On defense, he hired former Jaguar Marlon McCree to coach the secondary.
He also retained five members of the defensive staff, including defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, who was the team's interim head coach for five games last year, but was bypassed for the head coaching job.
Tucker, who got the assistant head coach title, could have left for Minnesota, but decided to stay. He said he was disappointed but feels he has some unfinished business after taking the defense from 28th to sixth last year.
Mularkey also decided to keep two of his top lieutenants, defensive line coach Joe Cullen and linebacker coach Mark Duffner.
He also kept defensive assistant Brandon Blaney and assistant special teams coach Craig Ackerman.
--Once Mike Mularkey finalizes his staff, the next priority for the Jaguars will be trying to sign their own free agents.
They have 11 unrestricted free agents, including four defensive starters - defensive ends Jeremy Mincey and Matt Roth, defensive back Dwight Lowery and cornerback Rashean Mathis. Both kicker Josh Scobee and punter Nick Harris are also free agents.
"We go through a postseason roster evaluation process," general manager Gene Smith said. "I talked to every player before they departed after our final game and I let them know that we would in touch with them and/or their agent. And so with a new coaching staff coming in, I want to be fair to them and also fair to the players. So that when I do call them and I tell them what our plans are that they will know that it's clear, it's decisive in terms of what our approach is going to be. But I can tell you it starts with our players first. That's the priority."
--Of Tucker being assistant head coach, Mularkey said, "I told Mel that is not just a tag. That's a role I wanted him to be involved in with some of my decisions on this football team, and I've already started that with him this morning discussing the path and how we wanted to address the staff. And I want him involved. There are some things I probably wouldn't have said to other assistants that I did say to Mel this morning just to let him know I'm serious about how important his role on this football team (will be). And I think he appreciates that. I think it's going to help him in the long run."
He said if Tucker does get a head coaching job down the road, the experience of being an assistant head coach should help him.
"It will be a little easier to make some decisions, so that's the way it is going to be with us," he said.
He said his ties with Bratkowski go back to his days as an assistant in Pittsburgh. And Bratkowski has been an NFL coach for 20 years, 14 as an offensive coordinator. He spent 10 years with Cincinnati before getting fired and then spent the last year with the Falcons as quarterback coach.
He said the new quarterback coach may be somebody who has worked with Bratkowski in the past so he has a working relationship with the quarterback coach.
For Bratkowski, Mularkey and the quarterback coach, the key is whether they can get Blaine Gabbert on track after he was the worst ranked quarterback in the league his rookie year.
Of Gabbert, Bratkowski said, "I think we can help him. I know one thing from my talk with him. He definitely wants to be good and that's important that he has that trait. That's the one thing I wanted out of the conversation. This guy wants to be good. It' important to him and I think it's important to him that his teammates believe that too."
The job for Tucker, Cullen and Duffner is to keep the defense, ranked sixth in the league, among the best and improve the team's turnover ratio.
They were plus five last year, which ninth in the league but want to have more impact.
Tucker admitted he was disappointed not to get the head job but said he's been disappointed before and moved on quickly.
He said the key is what is best for the team, not is what is best for Mel Tucker sand he said Mularkey was a great choice and the right coach for the team.
As far as his ego being bruised, he said, "I'm a low ego guy. That is how I always going to be."
--The Jaguars put a lot of emphasis on hiring an offensive coach but Mike Mularkey won't be calling the plays on the sidelines the way some offensive oriented head coaches do, including Mike McCarthy in Green Bay and Sean Payton in Atlanta.
Mularkey said he called plays towards the middle of his second year as head coach in Buffalo and found it wasn't a good fit for him when he also was wearing the head-coaching hat.
"Managing a game, some guys can do that. I'll be honest with you. Some guys are very good at managing the game and calling plays. I'm not one of them. Because any one mistake can be the difference in the game. I don't want to be that guy that thinks he can do it all. I'm not going to do it. Hopefully, I'll put it in the right hands. That's what my job is to get that guy in here, get the right guy in here to do that," Mularkey said.
That guy, as it turns out, is former Falcons QB coach Bob Bratkowski, who was hired on Friday and will be given suggestions from Mularkey.
"I'm a gatherer of information. We probably meet longer than we should because I'm always asking for everybody's input. My answer isn't always the right answer or the final answer. So I'm constantly trying to see what other guys' ideas are. I'll have some input as all the other coaches will," he said.
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