Falcons lose coordinator Mularkey to Jaguars

BY foxsports • January 10, 2012

For the second time in two days, the Atlanta Falcons lost a coordinator.

Mike Mularkey, the team's offensive coordinator since Mike Smith took over as head coach in 2008, was named head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars late on Tuesday night, a move that was confirmed by the Jaguars on their official Twitter page.

The press conference to introduce Mularkey will be held on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, the Falcons will hold a season-ending press conference at owner Arthur Blank's family offices in Buckhead with general manager Thomas Dimitroff and Smith.

On Monday, Smith announced the departure of defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder to Auburn University where VanGorder will have the same job. VanGorder had been the team's defensive coordinator since Smith arrived.

As a result, Smith faces a massive re-making of the coaching staff in this offseason – as it is possible that some of the team's assistants could go with Mularkey. Smith already had said that finding a defensive coordinator was his "number one priority."

At least Smith's background is in defense. Offense is a different matter. One possibility – if the Minnesota Vikings would allow a lateral move – would be for former quarterbacks coach/assistant head coach Bill Musgrave to return. Musgrave, who left after the 2010 season to become the Vikings' offensive coordinator, enjoys a strong relationship with Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

Smith, who has a 43-21 regular season record but who is 0-3 in the playoffs, re-affirmed on Monday that he wants a run-first offense that controls the line of scrimmage.

Mularkey had grown unpopular with fans in Atlanta for the perception that he could not adequately use all of the offense's weapons at his disposal, namely Michael Turner, Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White and Julio Jones. On Monday, Smith said that the Falcons wanted to be more explosive than they were.

Atlanta's offense was kept off the board in its 24-2 loss to the New York Giants in their NFC Wildcard playoff game on Sunday. But that evidently did not hurt Mularkey's candidacy in Jacksonville.

Indeed, he gets credit for the development of Ryan, who set a single-season Falcons franchise record in 2011 for passing yardage. He also installed the no-huddle offense that often was the team's most effective weapon.

If the Falcons could somehow get Musgrave back, Musgrave would have an intimate knowledge of the no-huddle's operations.

Regardless, Smith is going to be a busy man for the next few weeks.


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