On Friday, Jags head coach Mike Mularkey began to shake things up in Jacksonville. When originally hired, he had mentioned he had identified some holes in the Jaguars’ defense that could be exploited. He said he was going to have a chat with Mel Tucker about the defense moving forward. Good news: Mike must’ve been impressed because he kept Mel Tucker on board and named him assistant head coach/defensive coordinator going forward.
This isn’t really a shock. The Jags’ defense was sixth in the league this past season. What really mattered was who he was going to name as the offensive coordinator to jump start the anemic offense.
Enter Bob Bratkowski. Bratkowski was the offensive coordinator for the Cincinatti Bengals for the past decade. Last year, he was the quarterbacks coach for the Atlanta Falcons. With his hiring, what can we expect from Blaine Gabbert and company in 2012.
By now, it’s pretty well assumed that Blaine Gabbert is going to make strides in his sophomore season. He wasn’t spectacular during the year, only throwing one more touchdown than interception and posting a pedestrian 2,000 some odd yards over 15 games, so the only way he can go is up. Right?
That’s the common thought amongst the organization thus far. There’s been no talk of going after a different quarterback in the draft and there hasn’t been much angst expressed by Mike Mularkey since he met with Gabbert shortly after being hired. It seems that just to make sure he does develop, Mike is bringing in a man with a decade of offensive coordination duties and years of quarterback development. While the Bengals did well this year under Jay Gruden, what did they accomplish following Bob Bratkowski’s leadership for a decade? While we know Andy Dalton did well this year, once again under Jay Gruden, who has Bratkowski worked with that makes him a highly suitable coach for the situation in Jacksonville?
Fortunately, there’s a mountain of data because this guy’s resumé apparently never ends.
Let’s start with the most recent: last year Bob Bratkowski was brought into Atlanta as the quarterbacks coach. While some may see this as a step down (from OC in Cincy to QB Coach in Atlanta) but what it really speaks to is his respected ability to show sustained growth in quarterbacks. Matt Ryan was entering his fourth year as the starting quarterback for the Falcons. He had shown great aptitude at leading the offense, going to the NFC championship game the year before, but they needed someone that was no longer teaching him to develop from college quarterback to NFL quarterback. What they needed was someone who could elevate his game, make small tweaks that fit the offense well, and get him to improve.
Matt Ryan responded by throwing 400 more yards with only 10 more completions.
If we can get Gabbert throwing 10 passes for 40+ yards on top of the rookie numbers he posted this year, then we’ll be looking considerably more explosive on offense.
But Bratkowski’s work goes beyond last year’s quarterback work. In ten years with the Cincinatti Bengals, his offense finished in the top 10 in yards only three times and once in his three years as OC for the Seattle Seahawks (with Warren Moon quarterbacking). But a more impressive statistic from Bratkowski is his offenses finishing in the top 10 five times over 14 years in the takeaway/giveaway ratio. While this doesn’t sound super impressive, keep in mind that he was coaching in Cincinatti. The same Cincinatti which was known for terrible personnel decisions and complete incompetence in the front office for years. He was able to capitalize on Carson Palmer’s good years (his third year through his fifth year) before he became so languished in boredom and hated playing in Cincinnati so much that he ultimately gave up last year.
That’s the man who will be calling the plays going forward for the Jags. A man whose offensive mind was trapped in Cincinnati (I’m sur ehe received great financial compensation to stay of course), unable to fully fulfill the potential his schemes promised to bring to the team due to a poor front office and poor personnel decisions (keep in mind the Chad Johnson/Ochocinco train was going at full steam back then). But with a solid work environment, like Atlanta last year and Jacksonville now, I think he can actually produce a winning product in Florida.
If Mike’s excited, then obviously something is working. There is a whole mess of coordinators available for the Jaguars to pluck up and install. Mike Mularkey picked a man with a decade and a half of experience and is confident he can do the job.
Hell, if we can improve Gabbert’s number by 400 yards, it’ll be worth it.
– Luke N. Sims