|It was a tough season for former Jags coach Mike Mularkey. (US Presswire)|
Say this for new Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell: He works fast.
A day after the Jaguars hired Caldwell, the team announced Thursday it had fired coach Mike Mularkey.
Mularkey had been in the job for just one season, but Jacksonville was a disaster, recording a 2-14 mark. Considering Gene Smith was fired Dec. 31, it was clear Mularkey was in trouble, depending on who Jacksonville hired as GM.
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When he was hired by the Jaguars exactly one year ago, we wrote that Mularkey -- who probably wouldn't have been welcomed back as the Falcons offensive coordinator after the 2011 season -- could find himself with a decent playoff contender in the AFC South with an effective offense.
Namely, he would need an improved Blaine Gabbert and an upgraded receiving corps, but if “the organization [could] make a splash in a deep free-agent market and Mularkey gets a full offseason working with Gabbert, it wouldn't be shocking to see rapid improvement from the Jaguars in 2012.”
That obviously didn't happen. Star running back Maurice Jones-Drew missed 10 games with a foot injury, and Gabbert was ineffective before he was placed on injured reserve. The big offseason signing of receiver Laurent Robinson was a bust, and though receiver Cecil Shorts emerged as a solid playmaker, backup quarterback Chad Henne was not the late-season team savior Mularkey needed him to be.
“I informed Mike today that he will not return as head coach of the Jaguars,” Caldwell said in a statement. “I know Mike well and do not want anyone to misinterpret the rationale behind my decision. Mike is an excellent coach and I am sure he will succeed in his next stop in the NFL. However, I must do what I believe is best for the Jacksonville Jaguars and immediately explore every avenue possible to turn our football team around. For that to happen as seamlessly as we want, and as quickly as our fans deserve, I feel it is in everyone's best interests for an immediate and clean restart.”
Said owner Shad Khan: "Mike Mularkey is leaving our organization with my utmost respect. Mike gave the Jaguars everything he had on and off the field, and his efforts as our head coach will always be appreciated. Mike will land on his feet soon. Until then, I wish nothing but the best for Mike and his family.”
Now, of course, the Jaguars will look for a new coach to head up a team that still has many questions. CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora has been reporting that one strong candidate for the job would be 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman, especially since Caldwell and Roman are old college roommates from John Carroll.