While putting together his coaching staff, new Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey said there were many good moments in recent weeks.
One moment in particular stood out.
Early in the hiring process, Mularkey was driving to Jacksonville from Atlanta when he received a text message from Jerry Sullivan. Long considered one of the NFL's premier receivers coaches, Sullivan spent the 2011 season out of the NFL, having retired after 19 seasons.
Or so Mularkey thought.
"I got a text from Jerry that said, 'Hey, I'd be interested in working with you and (offensive coordinator) Bob Bratkowski,''' Mularkey recalled this week on Jaguars This Week.
"I was like, 'Well, this is good. Yeah.'''
Mularkey said he immediately contacted Sullivan, who already was being contacted by other NFL teams. One team of particular note was the Arizona Cardinals.
Sullivan had worked during the 2011 off-season with Cardinals Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, and Fitzgerald very much wanted Sullivan to join the Cardinals staff.
"Larry Fitzgerald literally flew him to Arizona, walked him into (Cardinals Head Coach) Ken Wisenhunt's office and said, 'Listen, I need this guy here,''' Mularkey said. "Jerry decided to come here for a variety of reasons that will help us and help our receivers move forward."
Asked specifically what made Sullivan a premier receivers coach, Mularkey said, "He's very detailed with the techniques and fundamentals of the position."
"He's demanding in a specific way," Mularkey said. "He's not demeaning, but he is demanding and he earns a lot of guys' respect. He has trained and been around a lot of great receivers. He has a great track history. Our guys are very fortunate to get one of the best who has ever coached the position."
Mularkey and the coaching staff spent this past week beginning the process of putting together the playbook, and with many of the offensive coaches being new this season there was extensive roster evaluation from those members of the staff.
"We're already up to Page 4 (of the playbook)," he said with a laugh, adding that although there are five offensive coaches on staff with coordinator experience – Bratkowski, quarterbacks coach Greg Olson, Mularkey, Sullivan and running backs coach Sylvester Croom – the process has been smooth and productive.
"That could be an easy place to have some egos come out and have some conflicts of interest," Mularkey said. "It could be a place where people are saying, 'My idea is better than your idea.' That's not the case. We have a bunch of guys in there who are trying to narrow this thing down to put the best system in place for the players who are currently on our roster.
"You've got some creative guys in that room. Everybody comes from some different background with offensive systems. It's kind of fun to sit in there and listen to different things other people have done. You go, 'I've never thought about something like that.' We're introducing our system to them as well.
"It's been positive and a good experience. I think everybody really has handled it very well."
Also this week:
*Mularkey said he has put special emphasis on stressing to players and coaches the rules of the new CBA as it pertains to the off-season program. While players can be at the Jaguars' facility, they may not be coached nor may they discuss football with coaches. Mularkey said he was talking to punter Nick Harris, who mentioned punting footballs. Mularkey said he asked Harris if he knew that players were not allowed to have footballs on the field at the team facility before the beginning of the official off-season program in April. Harris replied that he did not, which prompted Mularkey to call Jaguars Equipment Manager Drew Hampton. "Go around to all the lockers and I want you to padlock our footballs somewhere where nobody can get a football on the field," Mularkey told Hampton. Mularkey said the rules are clear that footballs are not to be used around the facility until April. "I know it's a football team, but we cannot have footballs on the field," he said. "It's written 'No' in bold and underlined that until we get into the phases in April where the players can come in voluntarily (they cannot be used). That's when we can talk football and have footballs on the field."
*Mularkey said despite the rules, conversations with players between now and April on a personal level will be important. "We have to start building a relationship now as quickly as we can, so when we do talk football, the trust level is there and very right," he said. "I've talked to all of the players whether on the phone, or in person. Our assistants have talked to the players and we still want them to come in, but it's definitely not to talk football. We're going to do it by the book. That started Day 1. I've sent them the rules three times already. We're going to do this thing the right way."
*Mularkey called Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan "very supportive" in the process of hiring assistants. "Not very many teams I've been with has the owner actually sat down with the assistant coaches in their interviews," Mularkey said. "He made a point, 'Hey, bring them over here. Give them a chance to meet me.' That's unbelievable that he would spend the time he did with the assistants who were in this building."