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A man of his people

Let's get to it . . . John from Jacksonville:
I assume that a big part of the interview process for a head coach is his approach to assistant coaches, correct? Wouldn't that mean that we should be just as interested in who Mularkey brings in to support him?
John: Absolutely. I expect Mularkey to move very quickly in that area. He's talking to Mel Tucker Thursday, and although anything can happen in the crucial first hours putting together a staff, it seems there's a relatively good chance Tucker will stay. That could lend itself to having other assistants from a very successful defense stay. The offensive staff likely will take a bit longer in spots, but I'd expect Mularkey to get the bulk of the staff together in the next week.
Steve from Jacksonville:
Just watched the presser. Your predecessor used to say that a coach first had to be a teacher (and all that implies). Our new coach seems to really exude that and has that air. Accurate?
John: I thought of my predecessor during the press conference, and when we had Mularkey on Jaguars This Week Wednesday, too. The reason for that is my predecessor was a great admirer of Chuck Noll. I am an admirer or Tony Dungy for the same reasons. Noll and Dungy were teachers. On JTW, Mularkey talked of Noll and as he did, it was easy to see that Mularkey – who played under Noll while Dungy was an assistant in Pittsburgh – was from that school. It's a good school.
Mike from Bridgeport, CT:
Can I add onto your Joe Gibbs point? Different sport, but I'm a Yankee fan and I can remember wondering in 1996, "Who the hell is Joe Torre?" He was a no-luck loser before he took over a solid roster for a franchise with deep pockets. They won four World Series during the next five seasons. Now, he is considered to be one of the best managers of his generation. Am I saying Mike Mularkey is the next Joe Gibbs or Joe Torre? Obviously not. I'm trying to say only time will tell. Let's give the guy a chance, and let's all remember, it's players not plays.
John: I spent time around Mularkey for the first time on Wednesday. He's an impressive guy, and that's not surprising considering Gene Smith and Shad Khan thought highly enough of him to make him the head coach. Here's the reality: some people are disappointed the Jaguars didn't hire a "name." Familiar names generally fall into one of three categories. One, they have head coaching jobs and are unavailable. They have had head jobs, been successful for a time and then have been unsuccessful enough to be fired. They have had head jobs, been successful, then retired. If they are unavailable it's obviously difficult to hire them. If they have been fired, people say you've hired someone else's rejects. If they have retired, as is the case with Tony Dungy and Bill Cowher, for example, they often don't want to return for reasons beyond your control. People would have complained about anyone, and that's why when it comes to hiring a head coach, you must do what Khan and Smith did: hire the person you believe best for the job, then realize all that eventually matters is what happens on the field.
Kyle from Crane, TX:
Your response to Chad about fans and real-time voting got me to thinking. Maybe the NFL should just make a new team for the fans. Every ticket you buy gets you another vote on players and coaches to draft and sign. People will always pay for that ticket for the chance to have a say, and the Jaguars and the rest of the NFL will have a team on which to beat the living crap out of every year. Win-win.
John: Kyle, I can't be more serious when I say I think you're on to something.
Tyler from Neptune Beach, FL:
Is it me, or do we have a super whiny fan base? It seems like all that we do is complain! I think Mularkey was a great hire! I don't see why people can't wrap their minds around this. They think they know what's best for the team? Ha, that's funny. I'm pretty sure a GM with 15 years of NFL experience knows a little bit more than your average Sunday fan! Thanks for being a level-headed person that can keep it real for the fans that aren't always complaining. I feel better now.
John: I'm glad you feel better, but I don't believe the Jaguars' fan base is more or less super whiny than any other. The fans are complaining because the Jaguars hired a coach who had a losing record somewhere else rather than a coach they have seen on television in recent seasons. That's exactly what you'd expect any fan base to say. The reality is this: the traits that make Mularkey a very good hire – level-headedness, integrity, experience, ability to set the tone in the building, ability to earn respect from players – are the ones that don't necessarily make him a "sexy" choice. Shad Khan said many times Wednesday he understands this, and Khan said that the Jaguars fans who aren't thrilled with the Mularkey hire will have to get out and meet Mularkey. Coaches are often a tough sell upon being hired, and perhaps to many, Mularkey is a tough sell. Khan said it best Wednesday. At some point, it's going to be about winning. That's the NFL reality. If Mularkey wins, the fans will love him. If not, they'll hate him. And that would have been true no matter who was sitting between Khan and Gene Smith at the podium at EverBank Wednesday.
Scott from Jacksonville:
O-man, could your man-crush on Gene Smith get any deeper?
John: Time will tell.
Bob from Green Cove Springs, FL:
"This is a classic Gene Smith move. Just like the draft, he selected the guy he wants, regardless of what the fans of this team want." All I have to say to that is "Exactly." In Gene I trust. Nobody's perfect, but if anyone else outworks GM Gene, I don't know about it. When does he sleep, anyway?
John: I couldn't agree more. If Khan and Smith had come in to the press conference and talked about statistics or about how they had taken a poll of the fans and come to the conclusion that Mularkey indeed would score highest on the All-Important Fan Popularity Meter I would have been very, very nervous Wednesday night. Instead, after speaking with Mularkey, I get the impression of a measured, disciplined professional coach who will set the tone for the organization. He will do more than that, but if he does that and hires a solid staff, the Jaguars will be on the right path.
Patrick from Jacksonville:
Not a question for you, but for all the "experts." Seems Khan is catching a lot of flack on the new HC. How many multimillion dollar businesses have they built?
John: I've written for the last month how impressed I have been with Khan. Aside from this being the quickest way to a Big Raise, I mean it sincerely. Khan obviously built very, very good auto parts, but it's evident speaking to him that he has reached his station in life primarily by being a good listener, a good gatherer of information and, as importantly, by being good at knowing what to do with that information. I haven't made this point here in the O-Zone multiple times in the last month simply for the Big Raise, but because I believed those attributes would be critical in hiring a head coach and putting the right people in place going forward. Khan seemed very confident Wednesday that he had hired the right coach, and went so far as to say there were more interviews scheduled Wednesday and Thursday but that once he met extensively with Mularkey he and Smith knew they had their guy. If you haven't met Khan, maybe that doesn't mean much. Having met him, it gives me a lot of confidence that the hire was right.
Jeff from Atlantic Beach, FL:
I went to the Falcons message board to see what they had to say about our new head coach. I learned that Matt Ryan stinks, Mike Smith is clueless and Arthur Blank is a terrible owner. The anger is everywhere huh?
John: Welcome to my inbox.
Steve from Jacksonville:
O, I am really excited about the new coach. He comes in with the right skill set to "hit the deck running". His previous head coaching experience and time working with a young QB should really help our team develop quickly into the playoff contender we're all looking for them to become. I think GM Gene may not have hired the fans favorite but he got us what we really needed. I'm eagerly awaiting to see how he rounds out his staff.
John: Jaguars fans should be excited. A big reason I believe that is this: I had a chance to talk with Mularkey Wednesday and something he said on JTW Wednesday keeps coming back to me: he talked a lot about his experience in Buffalo as a head coach and some of the things he had learned there. He talked of learning that he didn't necessarily want to call plays and bear the responsibilities of being a head coach/managing the game at the same time. He also talked about knowing better the terrain and some things to establish up front, before getting the job, and how not doing so in Buffalo had caused him some problems. To me, Mularkey seemed like a guy who had done some extensive self-examination and was ready to learn from past experience. That's an attribute that will serve him well.
James from West Liberty, KY:
For those who just want to look at Mularkey's last game as a "future" indication for the Jaguars and having success, four words concerning that game, "Players Not plays."
John: This was just too good.
Ken from St. Augustine, FL:
It doesn't like the mediocrity is ever going to change in Jacksonville. Looks like we're getting another Jack Del Rio.
John: If that's the case, looks are very deceiving. Mularkey and Del Rio are different. Very different.
Chris from Atlanta, GA:
I want to be completely honest with you, at first I was a little unsure of Khan as our new owner. But even if I was unsure of him I am happy to see that the vast majority of our fans love him which I think is extremely important. As things have progressed I have changed my opinion, with Khan inducting the Weavers into the Pride of the Jaguars and the comments he made to Peter King on his amazing podcast interview, I am sold.
John: He has made a lot of good moves. The thing that's assuring is judging by my limited time around him, his actions don't seem to be calculated; rather, they seem moves from the heart, made after research, conversations and thought-out consideration. That may seem a logical approach, but NFL owners have been known to do things differently. Look, you never know in life or football how decisions will play out, and the decisions Khan has made early on as owner may or may not produce the winning results he and Jaguars fans want. But if you do things the right way for the right reasons after asking the right questions of the right people your chances improve significantly. I know beyond a doubt Khan has done that, and that should give Jaguars fans a lot of hope.
Luis from Fruit Cove, FL:
My hat's off to you, O-man! How you can deal with all the idiots is beyond me. Keep up the good work.
John: The idiots are my people. We are one.

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