The Jaguars' new coaching staff is taking shape, as new head coach Mike Mularkey moved quickly to hire good friend and former Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski to call the offense, as well as convincing defensive coordinator Mel Tucker to return.
The hiring of Mularkey by owner Shahid Khan and GM Gene Smith is receiving mixed reviews. Our sources view the move as a bit puzzling. The general consensus is that Smith saw Mularkey as the safest, most comfortable candidate because the two have a strong relationship and Mularkey has previous head-coaching experience. We hear the Jaguars were quite fond of Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, but simply believed that he wasn't yet ready to be a head coach.
People we spoke with were disappointed by the move because, in his first stint as a head coach in 2004-05, Mularkey had difficulty controlling his staff and lacked some of the dynamic and charismatic qualities that one looks for in a head coach. Our sources wonder if Mularkey could run into similar issues in his second stint.
That the Jaguars were looking for a coach who can develop QB Blaine Gabbert and make Jacksonville more of a passing offense makes this move even more of a head scratcher. While Mularkey and Bratkowski did oversee the growth of QB Matt Ryan, they both favor a conservative-style offense that leans heavily on running the ball. Now, that is not necessarily a bad thing, considering RB Maurice Jones-Drew is by far the Jaguars' most dangerous weapon. But it goes against what Khan initially said he was looking for in his new coach. Said one source after Mularkey's introductory press conference, in which the new head coach revealed he wasn't planning to call the plays: "Why not just make Tucker the head coach then?"
The key to success for Mularkey and the Jaguars will be Gabbert shaking off a rough rookie campaign and becoming more adept at feeling pressure in the pocket. Also, the WR corps is in need of a serious makeover. That is on Smith, who we hear needs to swing for the fences in both the draft and free agency at the receiver position to give Gabbert and Mularkey a chance to be successful.