Our eyes and ears in North Florida were surprised by Jaguars new head coach Mike Mularkey’s steadfastly upbeat and positive approach despite his club’s disastrous 1-7 start.
The coach who preached patience and progress for the first two months of the season appeared to reach a boiling point in Jacksonville’s 27-10 home loss to the Colts, though, with an entire country watching his embarrassing meltdown on “Thursday Night Football.”
On a night when nothing seemed to go the Jaguars’ way — when does it for a 1-8 football team? — Mularkey lost his composure completely, drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when referees failed to review Colts QB Andrew Luck’s one-yard scoring sneak midway through the second quarter. Mularkey tossed his headset and play-call sheet on the field, angrily voicing his displeasure for a call that should have received a second look.
It didn’t end there.
Trailing 17-0 with 21 seconds remaining before halftime, Mularkey again let his emotions take over, recklessly electing to go for it on 4th-and-4 at the Colts’ 17-yard line, instead of taking the points and making it a two-possession game. The decision didn’t end up costing the Jags — QB Blaine Gabbert was called for a false start, before Jacksonville kicked a 40-yard field goal — but that didn’t make Mularkey’s bravado any less confounding.
Unfortunately, his players followed suit in losing their composure, as the Jaguars were penalized 10 times for 115 yards, with eight of those flags thrown after Mularkey’s multiple second-quarter gaffes.
Mental mistakes at the worst possible times have haunted the Jaguars all season. For a club so devoid of talent, making its margin for error almost nonexistent, the blunders the Jaguars continue to make do not reflect well on Mularkey — or the embattled GM who hand-picked him, GM Gene Smith.