I just got up. Anything interesting happen last night?
Ha-ha, but seriously . . .
Let's get to it . . . Nick from Jacksonville:
Hey O-Man, how many emails are you getting from "experts" – I mean fans – about the Mularkey hire? I submit the following for the experts to ponder. . . . 1. The Browns fans wanted Belichick gone; look at how that turned out for the Patriots. 2. If Mularkey can do for Gabbert what he did with Matt Ryan will this still be such a horrendous hire? 3. Shad Khan did not establish a multi-billion dollar business by making bad, uninformed hires. Frustrating trying to explain this to the "experts." Makes me appreciate the job you do every day that much more! Thanks for keeping it in perspective O-Man! Go Jags!
John: You make a lot of good points, and you know what? For about 20 or 25 minutes on Twitter Tuesday night, I fell into the trap of feeling obligated to explain/defend the hiring of Mike Mularkey in some way. I stepped away for a minute and realized that in the history of coaching hires, there have been exactly no hires that were unanimously, immediately popular and very few successful ones that were popular at all. I draw from my own experience as a former Redskins fan. In 1981, I remember the Redskins hiring Joe Gibbs and saying to my father, "Who the hell is Joe Gibbs?" He won three Super Bowls and when he retired in 1993, there were football experts who considered him if not the greatest coach in the Super Bowl era, certainly among the elite. Nearly a decade later, when the Redskins re-hired Gibbs I was no longer a Redskins fan, but my father still very much was. I called him. We talked excitedly about Gibbs being the move that would turn the Redskins around. We were as right that time as we'd been 20 years before; Gibbs' second era in Washington was nothing like the first. The point is the track record and previous success of a coach – whether he ran a successful offense or a poorly-ranked defense or some form thereof – is simply not an indicator of success. Gene Smith and Shahid Khan made the hire on the guy they wanted. We'll find out more today about why they made the move, but considering what I know of those two, this hire will be a good fit.
Tony from Ogden, UT:
My only real memory of having any opinion on Mike Mularkey is the year he made Kordell Stewart a Pro Bowler by drastically changing the Steelers' offense. I thought, 'If he can do that with Stewart, imagine if he could coach a guy with talent!' What is your impression of Coach Mularkey from his past 18 years O-Man?
John: Many knowledgeable people about the NFL think a great deal of Mularkey. Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is one of the most respected NFL writers and not a guy given to false praise. He covered Mularkey as a player and as an assistant and on Tuesday night, he immediately tweeted that Mularkey was a good hire (I hope to talk to Eddie soon to get his thoughts). Chris Mortensen of ESPN also tweeted highly of Mularkey. Our boy Pete Prisco was a bit more skeptical – but what else is new? My impression is he's a guy who overall has had pretty consistent success wherever he has been, and that before things went awry in Buffalo in his second season there had things moving in a positive direction in his first. What I know is this: whatever the fans' opinion of Gene Smith, he knows football and knows the league's personnel – its players and coaches – as well as anyone I've been around. I have had confidence in this hire from Day One because I know Smith will look for what the Jaguars need – someone to instill structure, discipline and an organized culture – and I can't imagine he would let anybody into the process who won't do that. It's not vogue among much of the fan base nowadays to voice that belief, but you've got to believe in something in a process like this, and I can think of far worse things to trust and believe in than Smith's knowledge and conviction about what this roster needs moving forward. Shahid Khan clearly trusted it, and considering his track record of success, I don't think he has spent a lot of time trusting bad decision-makers, either.
Michael from Jacksonville:
Go ahead. Put your company-boy spin on it and try to convince us all Mularkey was a good decision. You know it wasn't. I wasn't asking for Cowher; just a young, bright offensive mind who actually throws the ball around and hasn't proven already at an earlier stop he can't handle being a head coach. I'm sure you won't post this, and if you do, I'm sure you'll only respond sarcastically. I fully expect 10 blackouts next year. This, Mr. Khan, is not how you win over a fan base.
John: I'm still chuckling over the "Company Boy" line, but while I laugh, I will say this: you win over a fan base by winning, not by hiring the Name of the Week during a particular January.
Brandon from Salt Lake City, UT:
If you're a nerd, what is Vito Stellino?
John: The happiest, cuddliest sports writer I know.
Steven from Jacksonville:
What is your opinion on this hire? Do you see Mularkey fitting into our organization? If he was the play-caller of Falcons-Giants game I am a bit worried.
John: Don't worry about the Falcons-Giants game. It's impossible to judge a coach on a particular game, or in some cases a particular season. I once saw Peyton Manning throw six interceptions in a game. I saw Tom Brady throw four. They moved on and did pretty well thereafter. I once saw Bill Belichick make a decision to go for it on 4th-and-2, a decision for which he is still roundly criticized. Tony Dungy was criticized for being too conservative in Tampa Bay for years, and my guess is if either Belichick or Dungy had been named Jaguars coach Tuesday the fans would have been ecstatic. Every hire is different, and it is almost always the case that the best hires weren't seen as such by the masses when they occurred. The popularity of the decision on Twitter means nothing. Is he the right guy with the right approach at the right time? No one knows that, including me. I do know Gene Smith and to a lesser degree I know Shahid Khan, and neither strike me as someone who would hire someone incapable of doing the job. They knew what they wanted in a coach and moved quickly to hire him once they found that. I'd say that gives them a better-than-average chance of having hired the right guy.
Chad from Pensacola, FL:
This whole coaching "search" was a ruse. It was clear that they were going to select Mularkey from the get-go. 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.
John: I'm confused and I'm not trying to be snide. Were Smith and Khan supposed to take a poll and then go hire the top vote-getter? Is that how all decisions should get made? Should there be live, real-time voting and the results be sent into the draft room? Should Smith have listened when the fans said to cut Rashean Mathis and to release Brad Meester early this off-season? You want to please fans by winning, but you cannot please them by making moves that are always popular in the short-term. There's not only no mechanism to do it, it'd be foolish to run an organization that way if you could.
Jack from Jacksonville:
Where's the fire? Were the Jags afraid their 'safety' coach would get picked up someone else? Why didn't the Jags do their due diligence? Would one more week have killed them? Brian Schottenheimer is available now??
John: I don't know everything about everything, but I do know enough about Gene Smith to know failing to do due diligence isn't very often a huge problem.
Christina from St. Augustine, FL:
You asked for it and I'm sure you got it. Based on all the messages I'm seeing on the article and perusing the message board, I'm guessing there is a ton of venom in your inbox. Let me be one to spread a little cheer. Thank you for your hard work and extra hours and here's to a great season with the new regime! Go Jags!
John: God bless you, Christina.