As days go, Mike Mularkey said the past few haven’t been bad at all.
Mularkey, after interviewing for and receiving the Jaguars’ head coaching position Tuesday, was officially announced as the coach Wednesday. A day later, he began piecing together the coaching staff.
If the first part of the week was memorable, he said Thursday was, too.
“It was a good day,” Mularkey said.
Mularkey on Thursday not only retained three defensive assistants – coordinator Mel Tucker, line coach Joe Cullen and linebackers coach Mark Duffner – he also reached an agreement with Bob Bratkowski to become the Jaguars’ offensive coordinator.
The Jaguars officially announced the hirings Friday.
Bratkowski served under Mularkey this past season as Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks coach, and the two worked together with the Steelers in 1999-2000, when Bratkowski was the wide receivers coach and Mularkey coached tight ends.
Of the person who will run the Jaguars’ offense, Mularkey said, “We’re close.”
The two shared an office while with the Steelers, and Mularkey said the two remained in contact while Bratkowski was the Bengals’ offensive coordinator from 2001-2010.
“It really came down to one of us was going to be the coordinator in Pittsburgh and one of us was going to be the coordinator in Cincinnati,” Mularkey said. “It worked out good. I got to stay. Bob went to Cincinnati and had a successful 10 years there.”
Mularkey during that time not only coordinated the Steelers from 2001-2003, he served two seasons as Bills head coach, a season as the Dolphins’ offensive coordinator, a season as the Dolphins’ tight ends coach and the past four seasons as the Falcons’ offensive coordinator.
“We stayed closed and kind of just helped each other with both of our jobs,” Mularkey said. “I learned some things from him and he’s learned some things from me.”
This past season in Atlanta was Bratkowski’s first as a quarterbacks coach after many seasons as a coordinator.
“He really helped me in the passing game,” Mularkey said. “My emphasis was to get somebody that could coach quarterbacks, that has the personality that I knew (Falcons quarterback) Matt (Ryan) had to have and I think (Jaguars quarterback) Blaine (Gabbert) has to have. I think Bob has that personality that these guys like to be around.
“And then my forte is not strictly just the passing game, and I needed more help in that and I wasn’t ashamed to say I needed this guy’s help in our offense expanding our passing game.”
Mularkey said Bratkowski was of particular help assisting in the development of the no-huddle offense, which the Falcons used more extensively this season than in the past.
Mularkey said he will continue focusing on hiring assistants in the coming days. He said he has spoken to “a good portion of the previous staff,” a process that he expected to continue Friday and Saturday.
“I’ve told all of them and I’ve had to tell some close friends around the league that I have a plan of attack and unfortunately some good coaches and good friends are not part of it,” Mularkey said. “I’m going to make some of those decisions after I’ve talked to the entire staff, and that will conclude tomorrow (Saturday).”
While Mularkey said he has a list of ideal candidates, the list gets reduced by who is under contract and who is available.
“You have to file down through the system, but right now it’s kind of falling into place with the way I wanted to go after this thing,” he said. “Hopefully, it continues that way.”
Although Mularkey also said he would like to have the staff in place before leaving for the Senior Bowl, the week of which begins January 23, he won’t rush to do so.
“No timetable is set to make it happen,” he said. “We want the right guys.”
Mularkey said he will hire a quarterbacks coach to work directly with the players on the roster, including Gabbert, the No. 10 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft.
“There will be another guy, another mind, maybe another guy who has had some previous offensive coordinator experience,” Mularkey said.
Ideally, Mularkey said he would like to the quarterbacks coach be someone who previously has worked with Bratkoswksi.
“I’m trying to go in that direction, which will be big, but I’ll be there to kind of monitor,” Mularkey said. “I want to make sure I stay out of the picture unless I see something that needs to be addressed. But I’m going to let these guys to do their jobs, that’s why they’re hired here and I trust that they’re going to do it the right way.”
Mularkey said he hasn’t yet determined the exact size of staff, and that that will be something he will discuss with assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.
“It has started out very well the way things are falling into place,” Mularkey said of the staff. “There aren’t a lot of egos. These are a lot of guys who it’s important to that players are successful, not for any reason but they love to coach. That’s what they want. They want to see success and in the long run, we’ll be successful if we get our guys to believe that’s important to us.”
*Mularkey said he believes it’s important to have a quarterbacks coach in addition to having a coordinator, and said when he moved into the coordinator role in Pittsburgh in 2001 then-Steelers Head Coach Bill Cowher asked him if he wanted to handle both duties. “I said, ‘No,’’’ he said. “That position to me is so important. I equate it to Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods has a coach that watches every little thing about that position. I wasn’t qualified to do both. I still feel that way. That’s too critical of a position not to have somebody there with constant eyes on everything about the position.”
*Mularkey said he likes the scheme employed by Tucker and the defensive staff, and said it’s similar to the one used in Atlanta: “It’s not an exotic bunch of moving parts. Sometimes as an offensive coordinator approaching a game, you get worried when guys are lined up where they are and they’re basically inviting you to attack and saying, ‘This is it.’ Sometimes, that’s a little more worrisome to me than when they’re all over the place and I know they have a lot of things on their plate. That’s what Mel has done here and you can see the confidence behind it.”
*Mularkey also discussed Gabbert, and the importance of him improving in his second season. “We can help him,” he said. “I know one thing from my talk with him, he definitely wants to be good and that’s important that he has that trait. That’s the one thing that I wanted out of the conversation; this guy wants to be good. It’s important to him and I think it’s important to him that his teammates believe that too, and I think that’s the case. So let’s just see where we go with it.”