Saturday, January 7, 2012

Former Dolphins OC Mike Mularkey to interview for head-coaching gig

Just over four years after he was let go from the Miami Dolphins' coaching staff, current Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey will reportedly interview for the Dolphins' vacant head-coaching position.

While permission for the interview has been granted by his current franchise, the interview will have to wait until the end of the Falcons' playoff run if it hasn't taken place already. The Falcons take on the New York Giants in a wild card playoff game tomorrow and Mularkey cannot speak with other teams until the conclusion of the Falcons' season.

A former NFL tight end from Florida, Mularkey made his name in the coaching ranks as a tight ends coach for the Buccaneers and Steelers, followed by an offensive coordinator stint with the Steelers.

Success in Pittsburgh landed him a two-year stint as the Bills' head coach, although he was largely unsuccessful in that role with a a 14-18 record and two third-place finishes in the AFC East.

After being fired by the Bills, Mularkey joined Nick Saban's staff as the Dolphins' offensive coordinator in 2006. Due in large part to an injury to quarterback Daunte Culpepper and an overall lack of talent, the offense struggled under Mularkey and ranked 29th in the NFL with 16.3 points per game.

After Saban departed for the University of Alabama in 2007, Mularkey was demoted to tight ends coach as head coach Cam Cameron took over the offensive play-calling. Thrust into a starting role, David Martin led the Dolphins tight ends with 34 receptions for 303 yards and two touchdowns. (It was not until the following season that Martin really broke out as the Dolphins' No. 2 tight end.)

Mularkey was let go from new head coach Tony Sparano's coaching staff in 2008 and subsequently joined the Falcons as offensive coordinator. Armed with weapons like Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, and Roddy White, Mularkey has guided a Falcons offense that has ranked 10th in scoring in 2008, 13th in 2009, fifth in 2010, and seventh this season.

While Dolphins fans like myself didn't care for Mularkey's conservative nature and ineffective play-calling in Miami, he certainly hasn't been afraid to air it out in Atlanta as the Falcons ranked fourth in the NFL this season in passing attempts behind only Detroit, New Orleans, and New England.

Mularkey also fits general manager Jeff Ireland's mold of a coach that would not require control over personnel. Aside from high-profile candidate Jeff Fisher, the Dolphins have primarily been interviewing NFL assistants like interim coach Todd Bowles, Bears' special teams coordinator Dave Toub, and Packers' offensive coordinator Joe Philbin.

However, I don't think fans that aren't impressed with Mularkey have much to worry about. Even if the Dolphins miss out on Fisher like I'd expect, I don't think Mularkey would be the top candidate and I don't expect him to end up with the job.

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