PALM BEACH, FL -- No matter the locale, Mike Mularkey's stance remains the same.
The time for talking about other teams' quarterbacks is over, Mularkey said again this week, and what has been of primary importance for Mularkey and the rest of the Jaguars' coaching staff remains as such.
That's the development of Blaine Gabbert.
Mularkey, hired as the Jaguars' head coach in January, is attending the NFL Owners Meetings at the Breakers resort this week, and on Tuesday, he spoke to the media at the AFC Coaches Media Breakfast. When he did, quarterback unsurprisingly was a topic, and Mularkey again stressed that when it comes to Gabbert, he and the staff like much about what they see.
They just want to see more of what they like.
"There are flashes where we know it's there," Mularkey said over breakfast Tuesday morning.
The coming weeks will be about beginning to turn those flashes into steady brightness.
The Jaguars' off-season program begins Monday. Then, coaches can begin talking football with players, which they have been prohibited to do during the off-season under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
There will be many areas of focus during the ensuing weeks, but none under more of a spotlight than the development of Gabbert, the No. 10 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft. He struggled at times as a rookie last season, and Mularkey said time will be spent during the off-season program working with Gabbert on fundamentals involving footwork, his presence in the pocket and his dropback.
Mularkey on Tuesday was asked what would make the coming weeks successful for Gabbert.
His reply focused on consistent improvement.
"I'd like to see some of the things mechanics-wise that we will address with him that we have all seen on tape," Mularkey said. "The things he's been doing, we'd like to see it more consistently the way we want to do it. There are flashes there when he has done that. The throws, the decisions and all of that, they are there.
"It absolutely is there on tape what he's capable of doing. We just want to get it done more consistently."
Mularkey said while he spoke with Gabbert for about an hour before signing his contract, discussions specific to football – "formations, cadence and all of that" – have been nonexistent since he took the job January 11.
"We've given him material to look at, but you might as well give somebody a Spanish book and say, 'Go ahead and learn it,''' Mularkey said. "I don't think it's to that extreme, but now he's going to hear a lot of the things he has been reading. Now, you have to go, 'Here's what they mean.'''
Mularkey said while Gabbert has been given some material about the offense, rules limit how much instruction can be given in the material. League rules also prevent teams from requiring that players give back the information sent, so Mularkey said care needed to be taken with what was sent.
"We can provide video, but can't ask for it back," Mularkey said. "Whatever we've handed out, we're comfortable that if another team got it, it wouldn't put is at a competitive disadvantage."
Mularkey also said he expects improvement to come from the receiving corps, in part because of the addition of free-agent Laurent Robinson and in part because of the addition of receivers coach Jerry Sullivan. Mularkey has said several times he considered Sullivan's hiring critical, a point on which he expanded Tuesday.
"It's a demanding position, he's a demanding coach," Mularkey said. "That position, it's just a mix of personalities of guys that, you'd like to have somebody in there that understands each guy's makeup and can coach every one of them differently. I think that's important. You can't treat them all the same way and expect the same results. I think Jerry, over the years of experience, understands that and knows how to coach those guys….
"I think coaches can make a difference. I think it's been proven that that's the case. He really has a track record to back it up."
Mularkey cited Robinson as an example of Sullivan's ability to get the most out of a receiver. Mularkey, then the offensive coordinator in Atlanta, coached Robinson in 2007. Sullivan worked with Robinson last off-season, and Mularkey said Robinson's progress thereafter was marked.
"Do I credit Jerry for what he did last year?" Mularkey said. "I do. There's something different in his play and his production was different after the offseason. I know he's worked with the Larry Fitzgeralds and Anquan Boldins. I've seen guys that he's worked with and what they've been able to do. He's got a reputation, way before I started talking to him, of bringing out the best in players."
Mularkey said coaching will be a factor for Gabbert in the coming weeks, too. He talked Tuesday about the passion of new quarterbacks coach Greg Olson, noting that Olson will have drills to simulate situations in which Gabbert must improve next season. He also said Gabbert will benefit from live work in the off-season, though he said there are no plans to remove the red jersey quarterbacks wear in practice to prevent them from being hit.
"You need to have that on there," he said. "Wherever I've been, we'll not touch the quarterback."
Whatever the circumstance, Mularkey said he is confident the coming weeks will be productive for Gabbert, and that the message he gave him the last time he spoke extensively with the quarterback remains the same.
"This is a fresh start for everybody – fresh start for the team, fresh start for the staff, this organization," Mularkey said. "Everything from when we got here was all what we were looking at. Everything was moving forward. That's a conversation that already took place before I met him. …
"He's coming in now with all this game experience to an offseason and then all of a sudden now you've got some controlled environments where you can really spend some quality time without putting the pressure on him to get it done prepping for a game. I just think it'll be good for him.
"He's itching to get in there, I know he wants to get in front of the coaches and start the process of installing the offense. I know he's anxious to do it."
*Mularkey said the team remains in discussions with free agent wide receiver Lee Evans, who visited the Jaguars last Wednesday. "It was a good visit," Mularkey said. "I drafted Lee back in Buffalo (when Mularkey was the head coach there in 2004), so it was good to see him." Evans had 1,000-yard seasons in Buffalo in 2006 and 2008 and caught four passes for 74 yards in an injury-shortened season for the Ravens this past season.
*Mularkey said while the initial "first-wave" of free agency is over the Jaguars aren't necessarily done with free agency. "That's something we meet on every day, to see where we are, what's out there and what's available," he said. "It's always ongoing. You're always trying to improve your roster. The flurry happens early and everybody thinks, 'That's it.' It's constantly seeing what's available out there."
*Mularkey said while Eben Britton will be listed as the starter on the depth chart at right tackle, he also will be worked at different spots on the offensive line. "We are going to let him work around because he is that type of guy," Mularkey said. "He's going to be a hard guy to keep off the field because he has that type of mentality." Mularkey said the hope is that Britton, who finished last season on injured reserve with a back injury, will be ready to participate in the team's off-season program.