On Monday we passed along the news that Falcons defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder left Atlanta for the same position at Auburn and wondered if offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey might be out the door also. Well, he is, and he's headed to Jacksonville as the next head coach of the Jaguars.
The Jaguars made the news official on Tuesday night; CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman earlier confirmed a report that Mularkey was set to be hired.
Mularkey will become the third head coach in Jaguars history, and the first under new owner Shahid Khan after interviewing with the Jags on Tuesday.
Mularkey's lone head coaching experience came with the Bills from 2005 through 2007; he resigned in the middle of the 2007 season after the organization hired former Bills coach Marv Levy to work in the front office and the two didn't see eye-to-eye.
He also left the Dolphins early; those two factors led one NFL head coach to tell our Pete Prisco that he "didn't get it" when it came to the Mularkey hire.
On Tuesday, Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden pulled his name out of the running for any head-coaching vacancies; he was considered one of the top candidates in Jacksonville for his work with rookie Andy Dalton.
Mularkey's had similar success with a young signal caller, helping to turn Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan into one of the premiere passers in the league.
The knocks on Mularkey the past few years have been a) conservative play-calling and b) a lack of success in the playoffs.
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He fits the bill in Jacksonville, though, because he's upgrading at running back (Maurice Jones-Drew is significantly better than Michael Turner and much more dynamic), and because the Jaguars would've been a borderline playoff-caliber team in a weak AFC South if they could've mustered any offense.
It's a good move on his part because, as our own Pete Prisco pointed out, there will be plenty of "Falcons fans and some players happy to see him go." Those are the breaks that come with going 0-3 in the playoffs over the course of four years though.
Mularkey's chief job will be working with former first-round pick Blaine Gabbert, who showed promise in 2011 but was submarined by being thrust into a starter's role before he was ready and without any help at wide receiver.
If the organization can make a splash in a deep free-agent market and Mularkey gets a full offseason working with Gabbert, it wouldn't be shocking to see rapid improvement from the Jaguars in 2012.
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