Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Mularkey and Tebow: What Is and Isn’t

Who’d have thought that Mike Mularkey’s first test would have come before one football was snapped with him as the Head Coach of the Jaguars? Mularkey, along with the rest of the coaching staff and the personnel department had their feet held to the fire for a couple of days this week as Tim Tebow was made available.

Tebow is the most polarizing figure currently in sports. There’s no middle ground. Either you want him on your team as a starter because he’s going to take you to a championship or you don’t think he can play a lick. All of the other stuff surrounding Tim, his religious beliefs, his goodness, his winning record in high school and college, his ability to sell seats (or not) don’t matter. Everybody, especially in Jacksonville, has an opinion. Mularkey didn’t think this would be an issue when he took the job with the Jaguars. Tebow was the quarterback of the Denver Broncos, and in fact, much of Mike’s pre-hiring discussions centered on Blaine Gabbert, the Jaguars second-year quarterback.

But then Tebow because available (“We’re are talking about Peyton Manning,” Tim said to John Elway when informed he’d be traded) and the Jaguars seemed like a logical destination: for some. Hometown hero, Gator, winner, fill the stadium, etc, etc. Apparently it was only a question of how much the Jaguars wanted him. For some, no price was too high. For others, any price was too high.

“Don’t believe everything you hear or read in the media,” Mularkey said at the “Meet the Coaches” event on Thursday night. “It’s hard not to want a guy like that. We wouldn’t have tried to trade for him if we didn’t feel like we didn’t want to have him here. There were a lot of things that went into this thing to try to get Tim to come here.

“In the long run, it did not work out. But if you do not want a player, you don’t even get involved with it.”

We might not know much about Mike Mularkey, but one thing about his reputation precedes him: his honesty. He’ll tell the truth and live with the consequences, good or bad. He left the head-coaching job with the Buffalo Bills when the job changed around him, knowing he might never get another shot in the NFL. So when he says the Jaguars were in the hunt for Tim and wanted him, believe him.

The Jaguars matched the Jets offer of a 4th rounder and a couple of throw in’s for Tim but in the end, Tebow picked the Jets. Not even a hint of Shad Khan’s money for the Tebow foundation and other “accouterments” could turn his head. For some fans, that wasn’t good enough. They should have outbid New York no matter what.

So why not up the ante?

“That’s confidential,” Mularkey said. “The draft is how you build a football team and that’s what we’re going to continue to do. That’s been the philosophy of this franchise. That’s my philosophy. You’ve got to be very careful what you start doing with draft picks and we feel strongly about the draft.”

The day after the trade, the Jets said Tebow would be a situational player, coming in on third down, short yardage and in the red zone, much like I suggested earlier in the week on how the Jaguars could make it work. Apparently they discussed that, but also talked internally about how Tim might fit in as the back-up quarterback.

“Some of that’s confidential to talk about, but we talked about all scenarios as far as the backup quarterback,” Mularkey said. “He has some rare ability to do some things and all of that was discussed.”

There are reports that Tebow picked the Jets because he thought it was a better chance to compete for the starting job. I’m sure that’s news to Mark Sanchez and his new contract extension. But with Tony Sporano as the offensive coordinator in New York, Tim will get some special packages and maybe 10-15 plays a game.

And as far as Tim’s star status is concerned, well, it is New York after all. Endorsements, fund-raising, it’s all right at his feet. I know Tim’s a solid guy but I’m sure you’ve seen him at the Oscar’s after-parties and walking Taylor Swift to her car. He has big time star status, and it’ll only be enhanced in New York.

True to his form, Mularkey kept Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne in the loop while all the talk about Tim Tebow was swirling.

“I wanted to make sure they were updated with where things are and where they aren’t, and that what we told them from the beginning had not changed,” Mularkey said. “We wanted to reconfirm it. We hadn’t been in contact with (Blaine) for a number of weeks because of the way the new CBA is, but I just thought with the way things were going down it was important he heard from me and my belief in him and that why we brought him here had not changed.”

Mike talked a lot on Thursday night about doing things “the right way.” Jaguars fans can only hope that his belief in Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne, and everybody else’s in the stadium, is rewarded.

Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Here’s How the Jaguars Can Make Tebow Work

If Shad Khan has told his football “people,” namely Gene Smith, to get quarterback Tim Tebow, (and there are rumors that he has), how do they make that work?

To begin with, that puts Smith in a spot where he’ll have to eventually make a tough decision: swallow hard, stay with the Jaguars and go get Tim Tebow no matter that he doesn’t think it’s the right football move or eventually give up his job as GM because the owner is making the personnel decisions anyway.

Maybe it’s not as cut and dried as that but certainly there’s plenty on intrigue and a full domino effect going on in Jacksonville and around the league now that Peyton Manning is in Denver and the Broncos have decided to make Tim available.

If the deal involves a 5th round pick, it’s almost a no-lose situation for the Jaguars. While they never want to part with draft picks, a fifth rounder is a small price to pay for a bona fide hometown hero who is a feel-good acquisition with tremendous public relations upside.

He’s not the football player the Jaguars want at this point. They’re building a team with an offense that employs a strategy a pocket passer can flourish in. For all of the good things Tim does, he’s not that.

So let’s say they go get Tebow at the right price (assuming that he actually wants to come here). So then what? After all the PR dies down, and the ticket sales level off (possibly as many as 6,000 new season ticket holders claim they’ll buy tickets just to see Tim in a Jaguars uniform) it’ll come down to football and competition.

And that’s a very cold hearted, calculated business.

Tebow was put in the lineup last year for Denver not because he had beaten out Brady Quinn for the backup job or Kyle Orton as the starter but because the team started 1-5 and needed something different. Broncos head coach John Fox simplified the offense, changed the game plan and Tim helped the team get to a .500 record and a win in the playoffs. He didn’t display any superhuman quarterback talents and in fact, in just about every statistical category he was substandard to the average quarterback in the league. But he provided a spark across his team and grabbed the attention of a lot of non-football fans, so much so that every late night talk show and even Saturday Nigh Live featured Tim in some form or fashion.

And the Broncos won games.

But one time through just over half of the schedule doesn’t solidify anybody in the NFL where you constantly have to prove your worth on the field. Tebow does have all of the intangibles you want in any athlete competing at the highest level but, as the Patriots showed in the second round of the NFL playoffs, that doesn’t always mean victory.

Tim would join the roster as the third-string quarterback for the Jaguars behind Blaine Gabbert and newly acquired Chad Henne. Based on Gabbert’s lack of production and Henne’s newness, he’d be given a chance to compete and at the end of training camp let’s say he’s still the 3rd string quarterback. He’s not happy with that and certainly his fans wouldn’t be either. But again, it’s a cold and calculated business.

New Head Coach Mike Mularkey would be in a very tough spot knowing that every incompletion, interception, stalled drive or loss on the scoreboard would bring out the chants of “Tee-Bow” from part of the crowd.

So here’s the solution. Keeping three quarterbacks is no big deal in the NFL. If Gabbert progresses they way they hope, they build the offense around what he and Henne can do. But they have a change of pace 10-15 play offensive package that takes advantage of Tebow’s skills and most importantly, gives the Jaguars the best chance to win.

It’s unconventional, but sometimes that’s the thing that works in the league. Any offense that takes the ball out of Maurice Jones Drew’s hands too often isn’t smart, but adding another dimension with a lot of upside could be a game changer for the Jaguars.

Or it could get everybody fired.

Then what? Start over?


Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Tebow to Jaguars: Not happening

Here’s the only way Tim Tebow ends up on the Jaguars: Shad Khan says make it happen.

Khan hasn’t stood over Gene Smith’s shoulder when it comes to any of the football decisions he’s made. He let Smith cull through the coaching prospects before he brought Mike Mularkey to the table. And Khan hasn’t been a part of the process of signing free-agents.

While Tebow might be a different story from a business standpoint, he’s not what the Jaguars are looking for when it comes to their quarterback of the future. Smith, Mularkey and Offensive Coordinator Bob Bratkowski want a successful Blaine Gabbert. Tall, strong armed, mobile enough to get away quarterback who emerges as the passing threat to compliment Maurice Jones Drew and the running game.

Agree or not, that’s what they’re looking for and Tim brings an entirely different skill set to the quarterback position.

Khan has said he would have told his “people” to get it done when asked about drafting Tebow out of college, but he’s never said, “with the 10th pick.” That was the dilemma the Jaguars faced at the time. Now, Tebow would be available via trade, probably for a mid-round pick but what to do with him on the roster?

Signing Chad Henne give the Jaguars a viable backup and a legitimate starter at the position if Gabbert fails.

When Wayne Weaver owned the team, he commissioned research to see how many season tickets Tim Tebow would sell if the Jaguars drafted him. The number they came up with was 6,000 in the first year, even if he stood on the sidelines and wore a had and carried a clipboard. That didn’t warrant a business decision overriding a football decision so the Jaguars passed on him, hoping to get back into the bottom of the first round and draft Tim nonetheless. Denver jumped in front of them and that was that.

From a political standpoint, Weaver didn’t want fans screaming for Tebow after David Garrard threw his first interception. I don’t think that’s a consideration now, but time will tell. I just don’t think it’s in the cards.