The Jacksonville Jaguars, for reasons unclear, have hired Mike Mularkey as head coach. That means the Atlanta Falcons lucked out. They’ve been spared having to fire him as offensive coordinator.
The belief here was that Double M, as he’s known, wasn’t going to be retained, but that’s not to say the decision would have been painless. The Falcons won a lot of (regular-season) games with Mularkey overseeing the offense, and it’s never easy to break a winning pattern even if you know the pattern needs breaking.
Moot point now, though. Mularkey is gone, same as defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder. The Falcons have two key hires to make this offseason, and the offensive position is surely the more important. In the end, offensive failings undid this talented aggregation. The Falcons need to find a man who could make these glittering pieces more of a whole.
Mike Martz is a name that keeps surfacing, but I might look first to Rick Neuheisel, who was just fired as UCLA’s head coach but who’s an offensive man by trade and who worked as coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens. That’s just a first look, though. There are a handful of good men out there whose addition would constitute an upgrade.
The Falcons, I say again, lucked out. A staleness had come over this coaching staff. That’s inevitable after four years together, and now the team gets to change on both offense and defense without having to fire anybody. Auburn and Jacksonville came calling at the right time, Jacksonville especially. Time now for Smitty and Thomas Dimitroff to make the most of this opportunity. Time to hire even better coordinators.
By Mark Bradley