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NFC South coordinators rising fast

AFC South colleague and friend Paul Kuharsky has a very interesting column that impacts our world.

It’s about potential head coaches for the Jaguars, if they decide to part with Jack Del Rio, and the list includes three NFC South names. Kuharsky and I talked about those names at some length as he worked on this project.

I threw Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, New Orleans offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, Carolina offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Greg Olson at him when we first began the conversation. Funny thing is, Paul said the first three names came up on just about every list of potential candidates as he talked to some high-ranking officials around the league.

Paul didn’t hear Olson’s name from those people, so Paul left him off the list. But the other three are on the list and I could see any or all of them being a legitimate candidate. Let’s take a look at each of them.

Mularkey might not be the most popular guy with Falcons fans at the moment. But he’s got a pretty good track record in Atlanta. Quarterback Matt Ryan came right in and thrived as a rookie starter and the Falcons have had a winning record the past three seasons. That might be the kind of resume the Jaguars look for because it’s likely they’ll want a guy who can help quarterback Blaine Gabbert develop. Mularkey has experience as a head coach in Buffalo. Plus, Kuharsky points out that Mularkey already has a strong tie to the Jaguars because his son works in the team’s personnel department.

Chudzinski is only in his first season as a coordinator. But, like Mularkey, he’s shown that he can work well with a young quarterback. Cam Newton came out of the gate putting up 400-yard passing games. Plus, Chudzinski is universally respected around the league.

Then, there is Carmichael. He’s in his third season as Sean Payton’s offensive coordinator. Payton had always called the plays until he suffered leg injuries in a sideline crash earlier this season and temporarily handed the duties over to Carmichael. But the fact Carmichael hasn’t been the traditional play caller shouldn’t work against him. That’s because he’s well-schooled in one of the league’s best offenses and that pedigree will be looked upon favorably. But Carmichael might be a bit of a long shot on this one. The Jaguars are in a unique situation. They struggle to sell tickets and they may want a gregarious coach to help energize their fans. Carmichael comes across as quiet and shy when dealing with the media and that could work against him. But, hey, they used to say Tony Dungy was too quiet and shy and he wound up being the guy who brought life to a Tampa Bay franchise that had been dismal for most of the time before his arrival.