Caldwell Hired, Time to Compare Coaches


David Caldwell will be the next Jacksonville Jaguars general manager.  For those of you eager to put the Gene Smith era well behind you, this is a good thing.  For those of you who worried a bit less about the whole thing, then perhaps this is just a passing note for you.  Either way, with Caldwell’s hiring, there will be changes for the Jaguars.  For example:

For those of you who are fans of Mike Mularkey, this is not good news.  For those of you who are fed up after a 2-14 season, this may be a belated Christmas present.  The presumed candidate to replace Mularkey is San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who Caldwell would like to bring to Jacksonville.  We compared Roman and Mularkey yesterday, but for those who don’t like to click links/search through past posts, here are the main points of the article:

Greg Roman’s Coaching History

Roman has been an assistant coach to the Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, and Baltimore Ravens of the NFL as well as with Stanford.  Most recently he has gained a lot of attention for his revamp of the San Francisco 49ers offense when he made the jump back to the NFL with Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh.  Under his and Harbaugh’s tutelage the Niners have gone from a joke in the NFC West to the class of the NFC.  How much of this is to be attributed to Harbaugh and how much to Roman?  We won’t really know until we separate them, but the data is limited as to Roman’s distinct influence as an assistant coach.  He was good enough for Harbaugh to bring with him, and Harbaugh’s word is good enough for me (at least based on his current success).

Roman has produced a ridiculously efficient offense in San Fran – the Niners have been ranked first and second (2011 and 2012) in giveaways and tops in the league with interceptions behind Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick.  Of interest is the reliance on the running game (third and seventh in rushing attempts) while finding decent production on the few attempted passes (31st in passing attempts both years, 29th and 23rd in passing yards with 29 ad 23 passing touchdowns).  Under Roman, the offense has continued to develop through both years.

PROS – Roman

  • Has demonstrated ability to get the best from “average” players
  • Revamped offense successfully
  • Has won playoff games as OC
  • Ball Security
  • Running is a strength with Maurice Jones-Drew
  • Can revitalize quarterbacks with limited success prior to that point

CONS – Roman

  • Don’t know how good he is as a head coach yet
  • Only has two years as a coordinator
  • 4th head coach (counting Mel Tucker) in last three years for Jags
  • Passing offense is not very prolific

Mike Mularkey’s History

One of the major strengths for Mularkey when he came to the Jaguars was his demonstrated history of success in a franchise revamp under Mike Smith with the Atlanta Falcons.  Mularkey was offensive coordinator for the Falcons after a stint in Miami and two years as head coach of the Buffalo Bills.  Mularkey’s resume strength and calm demeanor were appealing aspects to Gene Smith when he was hired.  Yet Mularkey’s head coaching record is suspect.  As well liked as he has been in the locker room and as respected as he is across the NFL, it does not translate into success.  As a head coach, Mularkey is 16-32 in three seasons.  Despite posting generally top 10 numbers as the OC for Atlanta in almost all offensive categories, Mularkey’s offense in Jacksonville was not good enough to overcome injuries and inexperience.  Many coaches have poor first outings with their teams – especially teams with below average personnel – but is the continuity worth it for the Jaguars?  Of note, none of his assistants (such as Jerry Jones) have yet left despite being allowed to seek other work by owner Shahid Khan.

PROS – Mularkey

  • Continuity with Jacksonville
  • Has shown he can be successful (Atlanta, 9-7 in ’04 with Bills)
  • Brings in top flight coaching talent
  • Helped form Matt Ryan into a top quarterback
  • Balanced offensive approach
  • Locker room support despite a terrible season

CONS – Mularkey

  • Walked out on Buffalo
  • Posted worst franchise record ever with Jags (2-14)
  • Blaine Gabbert showed limited development in year one
  • Oversaw defensive collapse under assistant HC Mel Tucker
  • Part of “old regime” under Gene Smith

At the time of writing that, it was all a hypothetical exercise.  With Caldwell being brought to Jacksonville, this exercise becomes more and more important for both Caldwell and owner Shahid Khan.  Khan kept Mularkey on to see if the new GM would like to keep him or whether he would like to bring in his own guy in year one.  With Caldwell presumably bringing in his own guy, it will be curious to see if he notes any of the virtues of keeping Mularkey and decides it may be worth waiting a year.

– Luke N. Sims

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