And when he and Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan talked soon thereafter, Gabbert – the Jaguars’ quarterback who will enter his second NFL season this year – heard what he expected to hear, and what he wanted to hear as well:
That with Mike Mularkey as the Jaguars’ head coach, Gabbert is in good hands.
“He had nothing but extremely positive things to say,” Gabbert said of Ryan.
Mularkey, the Falcons’ offense coordinator the past four seasons, on Wednesday afternoon officially was named the Jaguars’ third head coach.
Mularkey was announced at a 3 p.m. press conference, but around 1 p.m., Gabbert and Mularkey met at EverBank Field one on one in what Gabbert said was a “very informal” setting.
“It was nice to sit down and get to known him on a person level,” Gabbert said, adding, “He’s going to put all of the pieces together, but right now, having the head guy, it’s very comforting.
“He knows what he’s doing.”
Gabbert said upon hearing about Mularkey’s hiring Tuesday evening, he texted Mularkey and said, “It’s going to be fun working for you. I’m ready to get things rolling.”
“It’s kind of this renewed sense of energy to get back in the building,” Gabbert said. “Even though the off-season just started, we’re all anxious to get back.”
Gabbert added of Mularkey, “He likes what he sees – now, it’s about learning his offense and making plays for him.”
Gabbert, who led the Jaguars to four victories in 14 starts as a rookie, said he and Mularkey talked about this past season and looking ahead. He said they also talked about “doing things the right way.”
“That was the big thing we agreed on – that you have to do things the right way to win games,” Gabbert said.
Mularkey, the head coach with the Buffalo Bills from 2004-2005, also served as the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator from 2001-2003 and the Miami Dolphins in 2006. Quarterback Kordell Stewart made the Pro Bowl playing for Mularkey in Pittsburgh, and Tommy Maddox also had one of his best seasons in Mularkey’s offense.
Mularkey also worked with Ryan in Atlanta from the time the former Boston College standout was a rookie in 2008.
“He’s done a great job with Matt, and Matt’s been a phenomenal player,” Gabbert said. “A lot of that comes from the coach. He’s done a great job putting him in a position to make plays.”
Gabbert added, “You see success that Matt has – it helps, the way he (Mularkey) developed Matt since he got to Atlanta. He’s getting better every year and that’s definitely the track I want to take. Having an offensive-minded coach here is definitely going to help me and the guys in this locker room play at a higher level.”
Gabbert said while he plans on driving home to St. Louis soon he said his off-season plan is to return to Jacksonville and begin learning the playbook and working under Mularkey and the new coaching staff as soon as is appropriate.
“I’ll be back here in the building as soon as possible,” Gabbert said.
Gabbert said a full off-season of organized team activities, offseason conditioning and mini-camps – as opposed to last year’s lack of an off-season because of the NFL lockout – “is going to help this team out a lot.”
“Even though it will be a new system, we pick things up here pretty quickly,” Gabbert said. “It will be nice going into training camp knowing the offense.”