Atlanta Falcons: Grading the Hire of Mike Mularkey

Atlanta Falcons, Mike Mularkey (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
Atlanta Falcons, Mike Mularkey (Photo by NFL via Getty Images) /

Atlanta Falcons Head coach Dan Quinn survived after finishing with a 7-9 record. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for four assistant coaches, including tight ends coach Wade Harman. Today the Falcons hired a familiar face to coach tight ends.

Mike Mularkey is a coach with vast experience and a name that Atlanta Falcons fans are very familiar with. He has been calling plays on the professional level for 17 years, starting as offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers at the end of the 2000 season.

The Mike Mularkey offenses were top ten in the NFL his first two full seasons in Pittsburgh finished seventh and eighth. The Steelers offense dropped to 19 in his third and final season as offensive coordinator.

In 2004 Mike Mularkey landed his first head coaching job with the Buffalo Bills. He lasted two seasons in Buffalo with his offense finishing seventh in his first year as coach. He resigned after his second season due to a dispute with management. His offense ranked number 24.

2006 saw Mike Mularkey join the Miami Dolphins, a division rival of the Bills. He was named the Miami offensive coordinator under Nick Saban. The Dolphins did not fare well offensively, ranking 29th in the NFL. In fairness to Mularkey he was working with sub par quarterbacks, due to Dantae Culpepper’s injuries.

Nick Saban left Miami for the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2007. Cam Cameron was hired as head coach and decided to call his own plays. He kept Mike Mularkey on his coaching staff, but demoted him to tight ends coach.

Nike Mularkey was named the offensive coordinator here in Atlanta under Mike Smith in 2008. He was the very first offensive coordinator that quarterback Matt Ryan had in his career. Mike led the Atlanta Falcons to scoring offensive rankings of tenth, thirteenth, fifth and seventh in his three seasons with the Falcons.

In 2012 Mularkey was hired by the Jacksonville Jaguars for his second stint as an NFL head coach. The team finished an abysmal 2-14 and was number 30 in scoring offense. The team changed general managers after the season, leading to Mularkey being fired after just one season.

After taking a year off Mularkey resurfaced in Tennessee, coaching their tight ends under Ken Whisenhunt for the 2014 season. He had the title of assistant head coach added to his job in 2015. Whisenhunt was let go that very same season and Mularkey again found himself as the play caller, being named the Titans interim head coach.

Tennessee removed the interim title from Mularkey in 2016 making him the head coach. He remained in the head coaching position with the Titans for two seasons. His offenses were 14 and 19 in the two years of Mike Mularkey calling plays in Tennessee.

Strangely enough Mularkey and the Titans organization agreed to move in a different direction after the team beat Kansas City in a playoff game, before being eliminated by the New England Patriots.

Average Scoring Offensive Rank: 14.77

Mike Mularkey interviewed for the Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator position but instead was hired to coach tight ends. Mularkey also has a vast experience as a tight ends coach. He coached the position for a total of 10 seasons with stops in Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Miami and Tennessee.

Bringing in a tight ends coach with such vast experience as Mike Mularkey, should help should help Austin Hooper take the next step in his promising career.

More importantly having another experienced offensive coordinator on staff, can only help the overall game planning of the offensive side of the football. Mike Mularkey joins Gregg Knapp as the other Atlanta Falcons position coach with vast play-calling experience. The Dirty Birds and Dan Quinn could not have hired a better tight ends coach.

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