4 Ways Jaguars Can Re-Tool Franchise After Firing Mike Mularkey
Mike Mularkey has been fired by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
According to the Jags' official Twitter feed:
Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell dismissed Mike Mularkey as head coach of the Jaguars today. #Jaguars— Jacksonville Jaguars (@jaguars) January 10, 2013
To a certain extent, getting let go after one season—albeit an atrocious one—is a little surprising. At the same time, Jacksonville's 2-14 campaign was unfortunately worse than it appeared.
There were no signs of improvement throughout the season and injuries aren't much of a legitimate reason, simply because every team endures injuries each year. On the bright side, a fresh start is once again in line, and Jacksonville also holds the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
There's only so much a team can fix within the span of one offseason, so let's check out what the Jags can do before next season kicks off.
Get Tim Tebow
Tim Tebow would at least draw a crowd and offer some promise to Jacksonville fans everywhere.
Even better, the Jaguars are interested in Tebow.
As reported by ESPN.com's Chris Mortensen back in December:
League sources say it is a virtual certainty Tim Tebow will land a job back home with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2013.
Tebow reportedly will be traded or released after the season, but league sources say the Jets are likely to honor Tebow's forthcoming request to be released and therefore become an unrestricted free agent.
Factor in Tebow playing college football at Florida, and Jaguars fans are well aware of his popularity and ability to lead on the field.
Having led the Denver Broncos to a division title in 2011, along with a postseason victory over the then-defending AFC Champion Pittsburgh Steelers, Tebow's NFL resume is more appealing than he is given credit for.
Hire Kyle Shanahan
Looking at what Kyle Shanahan has done in pro football with Robert Griffin III, it's no secret he can easily adapt to many situations.
Tim Tebow certainly still needs to develop as a more consistent passer, but Shanahan is capable of utilizing his skill set properly.
Plus, he is the best option for the Jaguars right now. According to Albert Breer of NFL.com via Gregg Rosenthal, Josh McDaniels is expected to remain with the New England Patriots: "NFL.com's Albert Breer cited a source in reporting Tuesday that McDaniels has committed to staying with the Patriots in 2013."
Fortunately for Jacksonville, per the Associated Press via ESPN.com before Wild Card Weekend:
The 33-year-old says he'd like to be considered and is "looking forward to having that opportunity after the season."
Combine Tebow's abilities with Shanahan's creativity, and Jacksonville becomes a nice challenge to build a consistent franchise.
Defense, defense and more defense in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Jacksonville already has the offensive tools such as running back Maurice Jones-Drew and a developing receiving corps.
So the team's ability to shut opponents down must be improved this draft season.
After all, Jacksonville ranked No. 22 against the pass, No. 30 against the run and gave up an average of 380.5 total yards per game.
Even worse was Mel Tucker's defense, allowing an average of 27.8 points per game and recording a mere 20 sacks and 12 picks.
Therefore, selecting either Georgia's Jarvis Jones, Florida State's Bjoern Werner or Texas A&M's Damontre Moore at the No. 2 pick is a necessity.
The Jags must improve their ability to pressure the quarterback and stop the run up front, otherwise 2013 will simply echo what occurred throughout 2012. In the middle rounds, a defensive tackle such as Purdue's Kawann Short or North Carolina's Sylvester Williams will suffice.
In short, this is about controlling the line of scrimmage because that's where games are won and lost.
Retain Daryl Smith
Jacksonville can't afford to part ways with linebacker Daryl Smith.
He's simply too solid of a player, and the front seven desperately needs him to get back on track.
Entering this offseason as an unrestricted free agent, Smith will be turning 31 years old before next season.
He will, though, be an appealing player to other teams should Jacksonville fail to retain him.
With 311 tackles, 8.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and 19 passes defended from 2009 through 2011, Smith plays consistently well against the run and pass. Add in his ability to generate turnovers, apply quarterback pressure and make plays, and Jacksonville desperately needs him for 2013.
Looking at how well Mel Tucker's defense performed after the 2011 season—ranked No. 6 overall—Smith's absence through the first 14 games of 2012 caused a 180-degree turn for the worse: The Jags ranked No. 30 in total defense this season.
That drop off reflects Smith's impact in a nutshell.
Provided Jacksonville keeps him and gets some prospective rookies in the draft, acquiring Tim Tebow and Kyle Shanahan could make for one fast rebuilding process.
Follow John Rozum on Twitter.