AFC South Experiments: Jacksonville Jaguars and Mike Mularkey's Offense

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistJuly 17, 2012

(Photo courtesy
(Photo courtesy

Being desperate is not always a bad thing.

Sometimes when your back is against the wall, you get resourceful. You dig deeper and work harder.

For a team like the Jacksonville Jaguars, desperation translates into a willingness to buy in completely to a new way of operating.

Make no mistake, the Jaguars are desperate. The front office knows that they are on the clock. The fans have been patient for years, but their tolerance of losing has been pushed to the limit.

Enter Mike Mularkey.

After Blaine Gabbert's rookie season, it became apparent to everyone that the Jaguars needed a change. Mularkey brings a new scheme to Jacksonville, and it seems to be one that fits nicely with the Jaguars personnel.

Mularkey rose to prominence in Pittsburgh, where he turned Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddox into productive players. He's shown the flexibility to go run heavy (like in 2001) or pass heavy (2011), in part because he uses the players he has to accentuate their strengths.

Despite the versatility of Mularkey's offense, there are common threads from year to year. He likes to pound his lead back, and he loves physical tight ends.

If there were ever a recipe for success in Jacksonville, that would be it.

While the Jaguars have made a commitment to upgrading the passing game by bringing in Laurent Robinson and Justin Blackmon, there's no question that Maurice Jones-Drew and Marcedes Lewis are the heart of the team offensively.

Lewis is an excellent two-way player, excelling as a blocker and pass catcher, and no matter how poorly he played last year, his blocking skills were still elite. Look for Mularkey to take advantage of them this year as he searches for ways to keep Gabbert from absorbing another 40 sacks in 2012.

It's desperation time in Jacksonville, but if the Mularkey experiment pays off, desperation will give way to elation.