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Jacksonville's Mike Mularkey Is Under More Pressure Than Colts' Chuck Pagano

What me, worry?
What me, worry?Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistMay 30, 2012

Both the Jacksonville Jaguars and Indianapolis Colts have new coaches in 2012, but the two men are facing very different challenges.

While Mike Mularkey and Chuck Pagano are still in the honeymoon phase with their new teams, the pressure on Mularkey to deliver immediate results is palpable.

Comparing the hurdles the coaches face makes it clear who has the tougher task, at least at first.



Blaine Gabbert is Mularkey's responsibility. He was hired specifically to develop Gabbert into a quality NFL starter. If he can't accomplish that task, he won't have any job security.

Gabbert is already into his second year, so if the franchise isn't convinced after 2012 that he can become a front-line player, the Jaguars may be forced to move on.

While Mularkey is absolutely the right man for the job, there's no question he's under the gun.

Pagano was given Andrew Luck, but oddly enough, bears little to no burden in his development. Pagano is a defensive guy, and his job is to build the Indy defense into a credible unit. Bruce Arians has been given the responsibility for Luck.

Pagano will look great if Luck succeeds, but Arians will get the blame if he fails.


General Manager

Mularkey was hired by Gene Smith, who is clearly on the hot seat. If the Jags don't show real improvement, Smith could be gone. It's unclear what that would mean for Mularkey, but it doesn't scream job security. He's clearly under pressure to win now.

Pagano was hired along with Ryan Grigson by Jim Irsay. The GM and coach weren't a package deal, but they were hired with the full confidence and support of the owner. No matter what happens this year, there is a zero percent chance that Pagano gets fired at the end of the season.



Fans in Jacksonville are sick of excuses. They've been more than patient in waiting for Smith's moves to pay off. Mularkey has to get the Jaguars to at least seven wins for fans to feel good at all about the future.

Pagano is taking over a team that won two games. All the Colts have to do for the season to be a success is manage to be more interesting than the 2011 team. A five-win season would be a step forward for Pagano, whereas it would be a disaster in Jacksonville.



Jacksonville has talent. There's a good defense in place. Maurice Jones-Drew and Marcedes Lewis are big-time players. All the Jags need for success is better quarterback play. It will be hard for fans to see quality players on the field and not hold Mularkey's feet to the fire if wins don't follow.

The Colts roster has been repeatedly denigrated in the press. While it's not as bad as some have claimed, it's clearly missing some key components. It comes back to expectations, but it's just not realistic to think the Colts can be an eight-win team in 2012.


If Mularkey can survive 2012, he will be well positioned for long-term success. In all areas but quarterback, the Jaguars are better positioned than the Colts. Unfortunately, the NFL is all about the quarterback.

The pressure is always on for NFL coaches, but in this case, it's clear that Mularkey faces considerably more than Pagano.

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