The success of Jaguars new head coach Mike Mularkey’s tenure in Jacksonville ultimately will be decided by wins and losses — or at least the development (or lack thereof) of second-year signalcaller Blaine Gabbert. But that hasn’t stopped our spies in North Florida from raving about the environment Mularkey is creating in comparison to his predecessor, Jack Del Rio, who was fired after Week 11 last season.
One source who was in attendance for Mularkey’s first minicamp last week said the difference between the way Mularkey and Del Rio conduct their business is “huge.” One of Mularkey’s strong suits — attention to detail — was an area where Del Rio consistently fell short in his eight-plus years on the job.
One act that drew praise, we hear, was Mularkey’s handling of the club’s undrafted rookies. A 1983 ninth-round pick with the 49ers, Mularkey offered inspiring words for his players who didn’t hear their names called during draft weekend, sharing his success story.
Top pick Justin Blackmon’s first on-field work with the Jaguars didn’t go quite as well as Mularkey’s. The former Oklahoma State star sat out of the final day of the weekend minicamp with a sore right foot.
After sending their first- and fourth-round picks to the Buccaneers to move up two spots and grab Blackmon, the Jaguars are banking on his arrival shoring up one of the worst receiving groups in the NFL a season ago. While the majority of league observers lauded the Jaguars for picking Blackmon, GM Gene Smith’s decision to draft former Cal punter Bryan Anger in Round Three was likely the most criticized move of draft weekend. But our Jaguars source made an interesting point in defense of the move, noting that, because Smith traded his fourth-round pick to Tampa Bay, he might have reached on Anger because he didn’t think Anger would still be around when Jacksonville was back on the clock in Round Five.