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Murlarkey's rise from failed TE coach to HC candidate

Mike Mularkey, who reportedly will interview for the Dolphins head coach job this week, gained a solid albeit unspectacular NFL reputation as the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator. The Fort Lauderdale-born former tight end parlayed that reputation into a job as the head coach of the Buffalo Bills.

It didn't go too well.

Yes, he did outstanding work his first season -- after an 0-4 start -- and rallied the team to a 9-7 finish. But his second season was dogged by QB problems, as neither JP Losman nor Kelly Holcomb could produce enough to keep the Bills from finishing 24th in the NFL on offense.

After that season, the Bills hired Marv Levy as the defacto general manager and he wasn't a big Mularkey fan. The coach "resigned" and was then hired by Nick Saban to be his offensive coordinator for the 2006 season.

That didn't go well, either. The Dolphins averaged 16.3 points per game that season. Miami scored 20 points or more in only six of 16 games that year. Miami was 20th in total offense. Mularkey's play-calling was questionable and Saban often threw him under the bus to the point Mularkey didn't exactly love his boss.

His next boss, Cam Cameron, kept Mularkey on the staff but demoted him to tight ends coach. That was short-lived also. Those Dolphins were 1-15 and obviously everyone failed. And pretty much everyone got canned.

When the Bill Parcells-Jeff Ireland administration took over, Mularkey was fired. He was dismissed on January 8, 2008 along with all the other assistants.

Mularkey went to Atlanta and immediately was credited with making Michael Turner a fine starting running back, turning Matt Ryan into a good starting quarterback and generally handling the tons of talent on the Atlanta offense well. Atlanta finished 10th in scoring in 2008, then 13th in 2009, then 5th in 2010 and seventh in 2011.

But ...

Is what Mularkey did in Atlanta truly worthy of making him a head coach?

Parcells and Ireland (before Sparano was hired) decided Mularkey should not be retained as an assistant but now Ireland and owner Stephen Ross have him on their head coach short list? He wasn't good enough to hire as the tight end coach four years ago but he deserves a head coach interview?

People around the NFL run hot and cold on Mularkey. Some like him for running a balanced offense. Some dislike him for running an offense that depends too much on talent and doesn't present enough updated looks and problems to defenses. I was not a big fan of his play-calling back in the day.

Mularkey, by the way, is free to interview with the Dolphins now because the Falcons were eliminated from the playoffs Sunday. The Falcons were crushed 24-2 by the Giants.

The Dolphins scored 17 points against the G-Men back in October with offensive talent not considered to be nearly as good as Atlanta's. The Falcons scored two points Sunday with better talent. In fact, Mularkey's offense was outscored by the Giants ... and his own defense.

Because Mularkey's offense was shut out.

After the game, some Falcons players were not too thrilled with Mularkey's approach or his play-calling that included two failed quarterback sneaks on fourth-and-1. There's this from Jason Cole's game story on YahooSports!

"Rather than challenge defenses with aggressive play-calling, Atlanta has played scared.

“We talked about trying to establish the running game because we didn’t think we could pass protect,” said Falcons wide receiver Roddy White, who was limited to five catches for 52 yards with a long of only 21 yards. “We played right into their hands. I mean, if they sack us every down and we can’t move the ball, OK. But let’s try.”

"White’s remarks echo private comments of several other players who have pointed at a disconnection who offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey’s approach. Numerous players believe Mularkey is too conservative, particularly in tense situations like the playoffs.

Or as one player put it: “Something has to be said to [coach] Mike [Smith] this offseason.”



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Why would Malarkey be any better than Daboll, Nolan, or Bowles?

Mark in Toronto,

I read this one this morning and had a chuckle. Thought of you. Hope you get a chuckle too..LOL.

"Bringing Sam Baker in for extra pass protection is like bring Wile E Coyote in to test product safety."

-- FO_MTanier, Mike Tanier of the New York Times and Football Outsiders, seeing Atlanta bring Baker in as an extra blocker in the third quarter Sunday at the Meadowlands.

SEARCH THIS @ 9:56....LOL.....

How come we already interviewed Green Bay's OC but had to wait until Atlanta was eliminated from the playoffs to interview theirs?

How desperate are the pathetic Dolphins? GEEZ!

Chris 623....

Because GB had the bye....that will be our ONLY chance to interview anybody from they're staff until GB's season ends....

Craig, man oh man, did the Falcons crap the bed. Almost as bad as Pittsburgh.

Overall good results on the weekend though. Nice to have some upsets although I will skip the Denver New England game next week. Pittsburgh New England would've had me watching.

PLEASE LEAVE ATLANTA - You are a failed OC here. I am sick of your running plays when we have one of the best receiving cores in the game.
GO AWAY - Let the Dolphins put up with you.

Is Mularkey going to get fired or promoted? After yesterday I'd say he's closer to being fired.

Thanks kris.

With Fisher most likely out of the picture I'd like to see the Philbin be the next head coach. At least he knows what championship football and QB play is supposed to look like in this era. He may not be able to duplicate it in Miami but I wouldn't mind seeing him try.

I don't have much for Peterson but he needs to get on the horn and 'advise' Ross NOT to hire Mularkey. As others have said, Sparano would be better than this bum.

Mark in Toronto,

I'm not going to pile on because I think you're a good guy but I hope to God we can put this Ryan/Long thing to bed. To score TWO points yesterday, even if it was against the Giants defence, with all the weapons Matt Ryan has got, just isn't good enough. We can make whatever excuses we want for him and the Falcons but a 'franchise' QB steps up when it's needed. Ryan didn't do that.

So (and this is the last I'll say about it), while I like Ryan and I think there's a debate there whether it should have been Long or Ryan, I think it is obvious now that it's not clear who would have been the better pick. Getting a team to the playoffs, while nice, isn't the goal. At some point you've got to win a game that ACTUALLY matters.

I'll shut up now and listen to your rebuttal if necessary. In all honesty, I was hoping we'd be having a different conversation this morning, cause I like Ryan. But we're not.

How about us start talking about trading for Payton Manning. Then you could sighn anyone and have a coach on the field along with on the bench.

I would give a deal say our first this year and a second next year that turns into a first if he works out.

Now that is a plan to me. Keep Matt Moore to learn under payton and wha la.

Payton would be more star power than Fisher any day. Crap you could even keep Bowles.

Go Dolphins!!


He was direct part of the $40 mil loss-increase-to Ross by Huizenga for 16 Games, so why not Billick ...for only one game C'mon men?

You saw what game he call against the Giant....CRAP. What vision has this G.M. eh. he is blind, with all the respect to the people who lost the ability to see.


You can't trade until the season starts up again in March. We'll have a coach in place LONG before then.

From a long time Atlanta Falcons' season ticket holder and fan, do NOT hire Mularkey. I don't understand why he's even being considered

This guy Mularkey is not what we should be looking for...There far more better candidates such as Marty S., Jim Fassel, or even Eric Mangini.

Mularkey shouldn't be allowed to be anywhere NEAR the Dolphins facility. The guy is horrible, just awful.

If Ross wants some high-powered, exciting offense, why would he look to a conservative, been there, done that guy?

This is eerily resembling '07, where the change we were looking for became the worst Season ever in Miami.

Ross is way too cheap to pay a P Manning. Heck, he refused to pay Kyle Orton lol

Any reason why Mike Martz name isn't even breathed in this search? Does he have experience, check. Win a SB, check. Great coordinator, check. Develops QBs, check. Explosive offense, check.

Maybe he's not milquetoast enough for Ross.

Why would Fisher want to come here and work under his former Ball Boy?

Only thing as bad as hearing Mularkey is a candidate would be hearing that Wade Phillips is a candidate. Might need to quit being a fan if that happens.....

To score TWO points yesterday, even if it was against the Giants defence, with all the weapons Matt Ryan has got, just isn't good enough.

Posted by: Craig M | January 09, 2012 at 10:19 AM

Correction. That two points was a safety.

Matt Ryan led the team to zero points.


Thanks. But you get my point.

Shula 71...I like it...

Craig, Matt Ryan was definitely dissapointing and he seems to have to get over that hump in the playoffs. It seems like a long time ago but even Peyton Manning was in that same boat. It's not over for Ryan but he's got to cross that hump soon or he will be typecast.

That being said, I would trade Long for Ryan in a heartbeat and I would much rather be a Falcon fan than a Dolphins fan this morning. At least they have hope. We have nothing .... absolutely nothing.

Why would Fisher want to come here and work under his former Ball Boy?

Posted by: Clueless Dolphins | January 09, 2012 at 10:29 AM

Exactly! The funny thing is, some fans here still think theres a shot because he hasn't made it offical yet LOL They're still holding their breath! That's funny sh*t!


I'd rather have Atlanta's last four seasons than ours in a hearbeat.

Having said that, Ryan hasn't proven anything yet. Yesterday's performance was woeful and while it's not all on him, something has to change there. I wouldn't be surprised if the Falcons did something radical, like firing Mularkey and hiring Martz.

DC, welcome back man. ALoco was spreading wild rumour in your absence that you got fired from your job and was living with Dying Breed in his trailer eating government cheese, haha.

Mike Martz?? Hmmm, haven't heard the best thingsa bout him as a person. Had real problems in St. Louis. I don't know - at this point I don't even care about the coach anymore because I think the greatness of a coach is more often determined by his quarterback - unless you were Marvin Lewis or Jim Harbaugh this year. These were the only guys that thrived despite sizeable limitations at QB. I would include John Fox in there too but I think Miami might have won that division - Matt Moore would've been the best qb in that pathetic division.

Hire Philbin and and sign Matt flynn

If they hire Mularkey I am done as a season ticket holder and maybe even as a fan. I do not want any of these old guys coaching this team. Ross make a bold move and get a young, up and coming OC. Choose the best one between (Jay Gruden, Pete Charmichael, and Rob Chudzinski) and hire them. Let them move this team into the modern era. I can not watch another year of ground and pound football. Daboll finally was able to get creative but only after Sparano was 0-7 and about to get fired. We need to not play scared and a young coach will do that. I am telling you Ross, everyone I know thinks the same way, if you go for theold guy and the status quo you will lose your fan base.

Craig, I agree. Something needs to change in Atlanta. Despite a pretty good season, it was a regression. Last year, fine, they were elimnated by the champs and won 12 games or whatever it was. This year, they never really seemed to get on track.

I don't know what they need to do there, and frankly I don't care. It's not my problem. But not so sure Martz is the answer.

Get ready for this, I'm about to pump your tires for a second - For as good as Warner, Bruce, Holt, Faulk, and Hakim were in St. Louis - none of what they did would've been possible without Orlando Pace and company. For Martz's system to work, you need dominant pass protection. There are a lot of long patterns - and you need an extra second or two. No co -incidence that when Pace fell apart, so did Warner, and the team faded quickly.

That is one system where the left tackle is a definite premium player.


Good points. Completely agree.

As far as the Falcons are concerned, I just have a feeling Mularkey will lose his job. Someone will fall for that showing. Won't be Mike Smith at this point. Maybe Sparano goes there....LOL.

They still need help at CB, but they've got to do something about LT. Other than that, the coaches might e next to change, let's say in a year.

Sad is the day when the head coaching job of the stinking St Louis Rams is so much better than that of the Miami Dolphins that a coach is even willing to take less money, I'm assuming, to go there. Steven Ross meet Humble Pie.

Fisher is reportedly putting together an all-star caliber assistant staff, so eager are these guys to coach with him.
You guys that don't want him in Miami are insane. Seriously. But looks like you'll get your wish.

Posted by: don | January 09, 2012 at 10:55 AM

Congratulations? You should direct your whining to the owner, not the fans. Fans have ZERO say. He's not coming here as long as Jeff Ireland is running the show.

Write a letter to Ross asking why Ireland is more important. Still a waste of time, but, not as much as posting to fans about it.

This just in Marty Schottenheimer to talk with Bucks

A franchise QB is clearly way beyond Ireland’s capabilities


Get on the phone with Dimitroff. See if there's any way we can get Ryan out of Atlanta for our first next year for our first this year and Matt Moore. I'd do that one in a heart beat. Get us to the playoffs first and then anything can happen, as Tebow showed yesterday.

Pampano, good luck to Fisher coaching the smart intelligent Rams fans.

Want a solid team and a great coach hire Marty Schottenheimer problen solved

That should have said 'our first this year and Matt Moore'.

No one with a choice wants to coach the pathetic dysfunctional Dolphins


You're right. And he hasn't even said 'no' to the Dolphins yet, something that most guys seem to be missing.

OMar has said that everything is on the table with fisher including him getting complete control. If he doesn't come to miami is because he likes to live in missouri and he likes bradford. ITs not because of ireland or the fans.

You may be right don, but consider the following possibility. Fisher due to his connections, having a franchise QB or whatever, pretty much already knew he wanted to go to the Rams. He also knew Ross would probably make him the highest offer of any other team. He interviews with Miami, gets a big offer in hand then goes to the Rams with that as a bargaining chip. No intension of ever signing on in Miami. A bit conspiracy theorist I admit but plausible.

jrs....Fisher is from So Cal and would love nothing more than to see the Rams relocated BACK to LA.
In fact, that may be a contributing factor in his decision to choose the Rams over the Fins.

keeping Ireland prevents any good coach from coming here.


I disagree bud. No coach wants to have to go through a re-location. He's gone throught it before and it was a distraction for his team and showed in the won/loss record.

On top of all that, football has failed more than once in LA. There's no guarantee it will work this time. Add to that the media spotlight that comes with coaching in a big city and it's all things that would make a coach stop and think.

LA is not San Diego. Big difference!

We are the laughing stock of the NFL.

Even the Buffalo Bills with all of their retread Dolphin coaches laugh at us.

A new coach should bring hope but it doesn't cause the real issue is the owner and the GM.

I had more fun watching the Broncos win last night then I did since watching the fins beat the Patriots with the wildcat three years ago.

It is a sad time to be a Dolphin fan.

I'm sure Ireland can find another Gibril Wilson or Ernest Wilford.

Well I'd assume Mularkey is out of the running after yesterday's fiasco. But out of respect, they have to go through with the interview process. I expect it to be a 5 min. quickie with no copter ride afterwards.

Hey Don,

Here some facts, not opinions:

Jags have a new owner & established GM.
TB has an established GM.
He didn't interview for either.

Irony or coincidence?

More facts:
Miami's GM is on shaky ground & he interviewed here. Maybe he could convince Ross to fire Ireland if he wanted the job?

The Rams have no GM & he's rumored to go there.

Making sense yet? Opinions don't trump reality.

With the desperate need for a new stadium plus the pathetic attendance, the Dolphins are more likely to move to LA then the Rams are. And Ross has that Hollywood envy.

For months, I've been hearing the talking heads speak very highly of Zimmer as a potential head coach. I'm happy to hear the Dolphins will be interviewing him. If Fisher cuts bait, at it sounds like he will, I think Zimmer moves to the head of my list, of those interviewed.

It's getting really sad. Most Dolphin fans now want Bowles...because he's better than any of the options they are looking at.

Ross is a moron to write off Billick due to one game in a bad year for both teams. What an insipid jackass.

Why would anyone want to work under Ireland other then a Pop Warner coach?

Some people can't read between the lines. NO!

The Miami Dolphins = The Worst Franchise in Pro Sports


You don't know Jack Sh*t! Stop making stuff up. You have no f*cking idea why Fisher didn't interview with Tampa or Jacksonvill, so stop presenting it as FACT.

None of us are impressed....

Craig, wish it were possible to get Ryan but I doubt it is. We're stuck with Matt Moore no matter what I think. Hope he improves.

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