After Gene Smith and Shad Khan hired Mike Mularkey last offseason, much was made of the coaching staff Mularkey was able to assemble. While Gene Smith was holding many fans (myself included) under the ruse that the Jaguars could compete for the playoffs, Mularkey lured several high-profile assistant coaches.
In addition to retaining the hot commodity that was defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, Mularkey was able to hire several coaches who seemed to be overqualified at their previous positions – Bob Bratkowski (quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator), Greg Olson (offensive coordinator to QB coach and assistant head coach), and Jerry Sullivan (retirement/private coach to WR coach). The stage was set for the Jaguars to maintain their strong defensive play from the year before, improve Blaine Gabberts’ performance in his second season, and produce some consistent points on offense.
Well 2012 played out in a manner few Jaguar fans expected and one of Vic Ketchman’s old adages held true – players not plays. The Jaguars simply didn’t have the talent to compete, and quite frankly the coaching did anything but help. The same criticism could be held for both sides of the ball – the coaches were far too conservative and not very creative. Mularkey and Bratkowski tried to install a short drop, quick read passing game to cater to Gabbert, but this led to far too many checkdown throws and very few explosive plays.
While Gus Bradley has seemingly won over the players and most fans at this point, it remains to be seen if new offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch and defensive coordinator Bob Babich can utilize the minimal talent they have better than their predecessors. Babich performed the same duties in Chicago for a pretty good Bears’ defense, but Fisch is coming from the University of Miami and has little experience in the league. Fisch spent a few years in the NFL as a wide receivers coach and a QB coach before running the offense for the Hurricanes last year.
Eric Stoner of Big Cat Country did a great job in May breaking down a lot of the offensive concepts Fisch emphasized down in Miami. Fisch is a fiend for route combinations that open up space for big plays. This should work well with Denard Robinson and Ace Sanders – two players who can make people miss in the open field.
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