---The night before Mike Mularkey resigned as Buffalo Bills head coach he told his wife words to the effect: "If we walk away from this job, we'll probably never get another head coaching chance again."
Today Mularkey's coaching rehabilitation is complete, as he gets introduced as the Jacksonville Jaguars' new head coach. Of course, Mularkey did walk away from the Bills' job after only two seasons in charge. His reason boiled down to this: It wasn't the same job he signed up for. The Bills had just fired Mularkey's benefactor, team president Tom Donahoe. Marv Levy was put in charge as the new general manager. Levy had no ties to Mularkey. The obvious and logical thing to do was to let Levy bring in his own head coach. The overwhelming likelihood was that was going to happen anyway in another year. But Levy and Bills owner Ralph Wilson, who liked Mularkey, refused to acknowledge that. (Levy, in his heart, wanted to be the head coach himself, but Wilson nipped that in the bud right after Levy was introduced as GM.)
With Levy above him instead of Donahoe, Mularkey, pictured above, didn't have as much say in personnel and staffing as he had under Donahoe. So Mularkey saw the writing on the wall and quit. The Bills did not have to pay him the remainder of his contract. Not many people do that in any business - walk away from a sure paycheck. But Mularkey did, and he deserves a lot of respect for it.
Here's hoping Mularkey succeeds in Jacksonville. He's a smart guy. He's creative. He has done a good job running the offense in Atlanta with franchise QB Matt Ryan. And as he proved in January 2006, he is a high-character, principled man. Rest assured he learned one lesson from his Buffalo gig. He will pick his entire staff. He didn't get to do that in Buffalo. He assumed some of Gregg Williams' staff with the Bills. Mularkey and defensive chief Jerry Gray had philosophical differences.
Mularkey also needs to be a little more comfortable in his own skin in public. Be himself. He was a bit too trepidatious in Buffalo. But with Donahoe looking over his shoulder that was understandable.
Jacksonville is a pretty good situation for Mularkey. He has a new owner who will want to give him a lot of support the next few years. He has a good, young defense, which ranked sixth this season. Blaine Gabbert isn't the answer at quarterback. But with Maurice Jones-Drew and a power game like Mularkey ran early in his tenure in Atlanta, the Jags could be competitive right away.
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