Mike Mularkey’s moves to start Jalen Parmele and Chad Henne over Rashad Jennings and Blaine Gabbert are the first moves toward making this team his own.
Right now, the Jaguars’ head coach is the captain of a haphazardly built ship that is controlled by a GM who is almost a lame duck and a new owner who kept the old owner’s GM as he learned the ropes in the NFL.
Owner Shahid Khan has learned the ropes the hard way this season. GM Gene Smith’s roster has proven to lack depth, lack competitiveness, and is ultimately an embarrassment (Khan’s words). Smith will not be the future for Jacksonville. Mularkey, on the other hand, still has a chance to keep his team and move the team in the right direction.
General Managers get to make personnel decisions and coaches make coaching decisions. Occasionally you find a mind like Bill Belichick who is the perfect combination of both and takes over both rolls. Unlike New England, almost every other franchise chooses to separate the two positions. Mularkey is making a move to at least be involved in the process more.
When Mularkey took the Jaguars coaching job he knew that he would be working with Gabbert. I’m convinced he likes Gabbert, otherwise he wouldn’t have taken the job. Liking a quarterback does not mean that he is going to be what you hope though. Mularkey is displaying a mature football mind.
When you have a roster of lemons (not to say there aren’t some good pieces) it takes a discerning eye to see what works and what doesn’t. Mularkey is showing that he has that eye. He played the game when he first game to town, but that game is not working. Mularkey is changing the rules. He has been a coach in the NFL for some time and knows his roster evaluation. He knows his personnel. He knows which moves need to be made.
This roster next year will not be made in the image of Gene Smith, it will made in the image of Mike Mularkey.
By making these shifts we are seeing a Mularkey who is comfortable in his knowledge of his team. This is not talent evaluation for Smith’s benefit, it is talent evaluation for Mularkey. If he does not like what he sees out of Henne, you bet he will try for a new quarterback or search for improvement out of Gabbert. As the MJD contract issue draws closer yet again you can bet Mularkey is looking to see what else he has on his roster. He is looking for which pieces are necessary and which he can replace.
I am not saying that Mularkey should be a Bill Belichick type who controls both the roster and the coaching side of his team. That said, I think that Mularkey is showing that he has the mind to at least have input on those decisions.
The move to bench Gabbert and Jennings is an indicator of that.
- Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims