The team issued a press release announcing the move. New General Manager David Caldwell said,
Mike is an excellent coach and I am sure he will succeed in his next stop in the NFL. However, I must do what I believe is best for the Jacksonville Jaguars and immediately explore every avenue possible to turn our football team around. For that to happen as seamlessly as we want, and as quickly as our fans deserve, I feel it is in everyone’s best interests for an immediate and clean restart.
While the move was unsurprising, it does mark the end of too short a tenure for Mularkey.
Despite being popular with the owner, Mularkey was unable to survive his devil's bargain with Gene Smith to try and make Blaine Gabbert into a viable starter. Mularkey is a man of faith, but was no miracle worker himself.
As the Jaguars' season careened out of control thanks to injuries, a bad roster and poor quarterback play, it became increasingly obvious that Smith would take the fall and that Mularkey, by extension, was also in jeopardy.
Ryan O'Halloran of the Florida Times-Union points to a divided locker room as one of the reasons for the dismissal, but the reality may be even more simple.
Caldwell has worked his entire life for the right to run an NFL franchise and part of that right is the ability to hire his own people. Though he and Mularkey purportedly had a fine relationship when both were in Atlanta, the coach was his predecessor's hire, not his.
GMs are judged on their record, and the stakes are too high to live with someone else's choice to run the club. Firing the coach after one year wasn't fair, but it was right.
There's no knowing if Mularkey would have been able to turn the Jaguars around, but it is fair to note that few coaches in history could have won with the dregs of a roster that Smith assembled. Regardless of who was to blame, a fresh start for the organization as a whole is hard to argue with.
The one name everyone seems to focus on as a replacement for Mularkey is San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman, a college friend of Caldwell.
The Jaguars were so bad on both sides of the football, that they have the luxury of looking for the best possible person without being limited by his native side of the ball.
No matter who ends up being the next head coach of the Jaguars, he's going to get a much longer leash than Mularkey got. Expectations are low for the franchise in 2013, and until Caldwell acquires a viable starting quarterback, the new coach will be getting a pass from fans and the media in his first year.
With Gabbert and Chad Henne as the options at quarterback, it may be the only pass he gets.
Quotes courtesy of the Jacksonville Jaguars PR department via direct press release.
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