I'm half in love with the whole Jacksonville franchise.
I already shared my love for Shad Kahn a couple of weeks ago, and I struggled not to write last week's piece on Tania Ganguli, who is a crazy great reporter. I'm sure I'll get around to her at some point. Still, after this brilliant article on how the Jaguars are wooing married players, I can't help but proclaim my love for Mike Mularkey.
Mularkey was hired to help the Jaguars win, and for a team that has a lot of pieces in place, that boils down to one thing: getting Blaine Gabbert up to par.
Mularkey's work with Matt Ryan has been impressive for the last few years. I think he's a good analog for Gabbert in many ways. I'm not convinced that Ryan has the capacity for being a top-tier quarterback, but he's definitely in the solid No. 6 to 12 range of "we can win a Super Bowl with this guy." I think that's in large part due to the influence of Mularkey. Remember that Eli Manning basically carved out a career in that range until his breakout 2011 season.
I was never a Jack Del Rio fan. I thought he was among the worst coaches in football, and I marveled how he kept his job year after year. Mularkey didn't have a good opening act as a head coach in Buffalo, but I think he's the right hire for Jacksonville.
He's a good man out of the Tony Dungy mold that really is better called the Chuck Noll mold. He's going to set the right tone for the Jaguars, and if he can manage to get Gabbert to even play average football, Jacksonville is going to win a lot of games.
It's hard to differentiate your organization in the NFL. All the teams have money, and for most free agents, it's all about the bottom line. Mularkey may have found a way to help give the Jaguars a leg up on the competition, however.
So hugs and kisses, Mike. You are my AFC South Crush of the Week.