Mularkey walking down aisle with Gabbert

January, 11, 2012
1/11/12
8:23
AM ET
By accepting the Jacksonville Jaguars’ head-coaching job, Mike Mularkey has committed to owner Shahid Khan and general manager Gene Smith.

But the real marriage out of the move is between Mularkey and Blaine Gabbert.

From the start, the Jaguars set out to find a head coach who’s a capable quarterback developer. Mularkey’s work as offensive coordinator with Atlanta's Matt Ryan has been impressive, and the Jaguars have tabbed Mularkey in the hopes that he can do the same with Gabbert.

The Jaguars' quarterback struggled as a rookie.

Mularkey will now have a hand in Smith’s retooling of the offense, which needs multiple new receivers and a bolstered offensive line. Even with better people to throw to and more reliable pass protection, Gabbert needs to grow into a more confident pocket passer who doesn’t feel pressure when it isn’t there and doesn’t panic when it is.

He can make some remarkable throws. If Mularkey can shape Gabbert and the offense to allow for more of them, the Jaguars really might not be that far from competing for a playoff spot. They’ve got a very solid defense and an excellent run game.

Mularkey failed in his first go-round as a head coach in Buffalo.

We are always reminded how it took a second job for Bill Belichick to flourish. Tom Coughlin’s done fine work in his second head-coaching job. Pete Carroll’s second job wasn’t terrible and he’s gotten a third chance. Mike Shanahan's second act was great and his third is going poorly. But other recent second acts -- Eric Mangini, Herm Edwards, Chan Gailey -- have not gone well.

The Jaguars are counting on their man to take lessons learned from his experience with the Bills and use them to become a guy who helps turn a franchise around.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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