Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network has reported that the Jacksonville Jaguars have contacted three teams, requesting permission to speak to their offensive coordinators for the vacant head coaching position.
La Canfora reports the Jaguars requested to speak to the New York Jets’ offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, the Carolina Panthers’ offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey.
This is a good step in the right direction for a franchise that is about to go through a lot of change. With a new owner coming in this week, this could be a good opportunity for the organization to go away from the defensive minded head coaches they have had since 1995.
Let’s take a look at each of the coaches.
Schottenheimer certainly has a resume behind him, as he is the son of the famous Marty Schottenheimer. I am not completely sold on him being a good choice of the head coaching position in Jacksonville though. The Jets’ offense is extremely inconsistent, similar to the Jaguars, and given the regression by Mark Sanchez in the last two seasons – he might not be the best person to be teaching the young Blaine Gabbert.
That isn’t to say that Schottenheimer is to blame for the inconsistent play of Sanchez, as he may not be as skilled as he was projected to be, but the risk of committing at least three seasons to a coach who hasn’t proven he can develop a young quarterback is too much for the new owner to be taking.
It should be pretty obvious to many, so I won’t spend much time in dispelling the notion that the Carolina Panthers’ offensive coordinator is a worthy candidate. Chudzinski can’t be given too much credit for the success of the Panthers this season because of Cam Newton. It is highly unlikely he would be able to do the same thing here in Jacksonville as Gabbert and Newton have completely different skill sets. It doesn’t translate and it wouldn’t be a smart move by a franchise who MUST hit on this head coach.
That brings us down to Mularkey. A guy who wasn’t on my radar before these reports came out, but after thinking about it long and hard, Mularkey looks like he could be a prime candidate for the position.
Mularkey is credited for his development of Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan, who just completed his fourth season with the team and was selected to his second pro bowl.
I wouldn’t go as far as saying Gabbert has a similar skill set to Ryan, but he sure does fit the mold and the fact that his son is on the Jaguars staff as a scout can only make this potential relationship look better.
Mularkey also has NFL experience at the head coach position, albeit with the Buffalo Bills for two seasons, which should give him a leg up on the opposing candidates. But let’s be honest, you can’t expect too much out of anyone coaching in Buffalo – especially from 2004-2005, when Mularkey had a 14-18 record during that time span.
The Falcons' head coach Mike Smith, former Jaguars defensive coordinator, has said that while Mularkey has permission to speak the Jaguars - his complete focus will be on this Sunday's game against the Giants.
Before we go searching for that next coach, we can’t forget about interim head coach Mel Tucker. While Tucker certainly got the most out of the team, earning him the right to interview for the position, the likelihood that he gets the job is slim, for the simple fact that change is in the air in Jacksonville and keeping Tucker on as head coach will simply diminish that movement.
I do however hope Tucker stays on and continues to improve the defense; however that might prove to be difficult as the coaching carousel continues to spin in the NFL. Khan might have to give the guy a significant raise in order to keep him on the staff.
But I doubt the Jaguars stop with these three candidates. Wayne Weaver has said they will be looking at high profile coaches, so expect more reports to come out about that within the next few weeks.