The coming days, weeks and months will be busy ones for Mike Mularkey and the rest of the Jaguars’ coaching staff.
For Mularkey, that actually means the pace won’t change much.
The Jaguars’ coaching staff on Monday met as a group for the first time at the team’s facility at EverBank Field, this coming days after Mularkey – hired 19 days ago as the franchise’s third permanent head coach – completed the bulk of the process of hiring a staff.
It was, Mularkey said, a hectic, time-consuming time, but one in which he said the Jaguars accomplished the task of compiling what he considers a very capable staff.
“We really accomplished what we had set out to do, which was to get some top-of-the-line coaches in place,” said Mularkey, an 18-year NFL coaching veteran who spent the last four seasons as the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive coordinator.
“They’re really good people first, and really good coaches.”
The Jaguars’ staff breaks down as follows:
*Head Coach: Mularkey (18 seasons NFL coaching experience, two as head coach, eight as coordinator).
*Offense (7): coordinator Bob Bratkowski (20 seasons NFL coaching experience, 14 as coordinator), assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach Greg Olson (10 seasons NFL coaching experience, six as coordinator), running backs coach Sylvester Croom (20 seasons NFL coaching experience, four as coordinator), wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan (19 seasons NFL coaching experience, one as coordinator), offensive line coach Andy Heck (eight seasons NFL coaching experience), tight ends coach Bobby Johnson (three seasons NFL coaching experience) and offensive assistant Charlie Skalaski (no NFL coaching experience).
*Defense (7): assistant head coach/coordinator Mel Tucker (six seasons NFL coaching experience, four as coordinator), defensive line coach Joe Cullen (five seasons NFL coaching experience), linebackers coach Mark Duffner (15 seasons NFL coaching experience, two as coordinator), secondary coach Tony Oden (eight seasons NFL coaching experience), assistant defensive line coach Paul Spicer (one season NFL coaching experience), defensive assistant Brandon Blaney (one season NFL coaching experience) and assistant secondary coach Marlon McCree, 34 (no NFL coaching experience).
Special teams (2): coordinator John Bonamego (13 seasons NFL coaching experience, nine as coordinator), assistant special teams coach Craig Aukerman (two seasons NFL coaching experience).
Strength and conditioning (3): head of strength and conditioning Tom Myslinski (five seasons NFL coaching experience), assistant Josh Hingst (one season NFL coaching experience) and assistant Patrick Mularkey (no NFL coaching experience).
That’s seven coaches with at least 10 years experience, and also seven – Mularkey, Bratkowski, Olson, Croom, Sullivan, Tucker and Duffner – who have been coordinators in the NFL .
“I think it just played out,” Mularkey said. “I didn’t purposely target years of experience, or age of coaches or places they had been. It just sort of unfolded, and I think we got the best coaches for what they do. They’re very passionate guys for all ages, which I think is great.”
With Mularkey still in the hiring process through last week, and with members of the staff such as Sullivan, Duffner, Cullen, Johnson, Bonamego and Tucker at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., much of the week, Monday was the first day the staff had met as a group. That took place at EverBank Field.
The first task of the offensive staff, Mularkey said, was to evaluate the Jaguars’ personnel, with a particular eye on those players scheduled to become free agents in March. Because Tucker, Cullen and Duffner returned from the previous defensive staff, Mularkey said linebacker and defensive line already had been evaluated by coaches.
Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith said last week the personnel department already had completed its evaluation of those areas, and that input from the coaches will be gathered before the team reaches decisions on free agency.
“We’ll talk a little about our own free agents,” Mularkey said. “That’s going to be this week, and we have to write evaluations on them. Then, we’re going to get into what free agents are out there.”
The coaches in coming weeks also will prepare for the NFL Scouting Combine in late February and will have a role preparing for the draft. Mularkey also said much of the staff’s efforts in the coming weeks and months will focus on putting together the offensive and defensive schemes and the playbook.
Mularkey said because Tucker has been the coordinator the past three seasons and Bratkowski is in his first season, that process will be particularly important for the offensive staff. While the Jaguars essentially will run the balanced scheme Mularkey ran in Atlanta, Mularkey said Bratkowski and the rest of the staff will work together to produce the offense.
“They have their hands full,” Mularkey said. “A lot of them will be here without their families, so they’ll have time to do it.”
Mularkey said offensively the Jaguars essentially will start “from Page 1 of a playbook.”
“There is a playbook in place right now,” Mularkey said, “but it’s interesting when you do this, especially when you go to a new staff. We basically just say, ‘All right. Here’s our personnel. Here’s what we have. He’s our quarterback. This is the meat and potatoes of the offense, but let’s make sure it fits what players do best.’”
Mularkey, who served as offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh for three seasons and Atlanta using his offense, also was the offensive coordinator in Miami for one season using what was essentially a scheme foreign to him. He said even during the Miami experience he drew from elements of that offense, with the idea to produce the best offense to fit personnel.
“It evolves to whatever’s better,” Mularkey said. “You get into the process and you say, ‘This makes more sense for players and this is more friendly for players to pick up quicker.’ You take bits and pieces and it kind of evolved to where it was last year in Atlanta.”
Mularkey also said with former offensive coordinators such as Sullivan, Croom and Olson he expects the offense to further evolve in the coming months.
“Maybe there’s something they’ve been doing over the last couple of years, and some ideas Bob will have, that will make this thing even simpler,” Mularkey said. “There may be something that can make us play faster, and be even more effective, and take a lot of the thinking out of it.”