JAGUARS HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY
(on if he’s ready to get back to work after Christmas)
I got back to work yesterday during Christmas. No, that’s just the way it is. It’s been that way. I can’t remember the last time, it’s got to be 20 years since we haven’t worked on Christmas. Coaches had time off with their family until noon yesterday.
(on how Jason Babin fits in with the Jaguars’ system)
He’s come right in and made an impact with his energy. You’re drawn to him the way he works on the field. When he said, ‘I hope you don’t mind, but what you see in games is how I practice,’ and I said, ‘I don’t mind. Our tackles may have an issue with it, but I’m fine with it,’ and he does, and that is the culture we want here. We want guys that practice like that, and for the most part, we have that, but he’s brought that guy that teams have to be worried about coming off the edge and I already see that happening, that they are concerned where he’s lining up and trying to protect some players.
(on if coaches try to use Jason Babin in ways that are best for him or if he already fit the system)
No, accept it. What he does, we try to use our guys talents for what they do best and fit it to our scheme however we can instead of trying to force guys into doing things they’re not capable of doing. We don’t do that with anybody if we can help it, so it’s no different for him.
(on if how hard the team has worked despite its record is kind of gratifying)
We are proud. These guys have come in all year, regardless of what’s taken place on Sundays, they’ve come in and really done a good job of locking in and focusing on the next opponent. There hasn’t been a game this year that we haven’t felt confident that we didn’t have a chance to win the game when we walked on the field. That’s been all of them, so I don’t think there will be a letdown. Obviously, there’s a lot of distractions going on right now with the holidays and family and the season coming to an end, and I think we’ve already addressed that. We know that the Titans will be prepared for us, and I think it’s going to be a heck of a game.
(on how important it is to win the final game to gain momentum for next season)
I just think it’s important to kind of end on the right foot. We’ve been talking about having a strong finish. I’m sure they’re saying the same thing over there. We’ve been saying it for a while now, the last six games, even trying to win this last one here and walk away with a good feeling. We’d like to put four quarters together, similarly to what we did against the Patriots, except have a positive ending as a reward for playing well. We really haven’t had that all year, where we’ve played consistent for four quarters and ended with a win. That would be nice to have going into the offseason.
(on how much credit a coach deserves if a team with a losing record is still on board with the plan)
I think I’m fortunate to have the staff that I have, that have a ton of energy and have tried to put plans together the same way last week as they did in Week 1. We have a great locker room, we have people on board with what we’re trying to do. They see how close we are. You know, it’s not something I could preach to them. We have some good people in good places on our staff and locker room that’s helped us compete like we have.
(on being close to winning and trying to take care of the remaining things that need to be fixed)
That’s been all year, and a lot of that is what we’ve been in control of, making a play here, making a play there. Last week, for example, being on the one-yard line, having a penalty on a play that we knew they were going to abruptly shift the front, trying to get us to jump offsides. We practiced it, you know, it ended up costing us a score that may have changed the outcome of that game. The week before against Miami we had one of our linemen not report as eligible, which he’s done at least 400 times, and the one time he doesn’t supposedly, we throw a touchdown on the play and change the whole momentum of the game when we have a touchdown nullified. Those are the little things, that one play here or there that we’re close on, and there’s some luck, too. We haven’t had a lot of luck. You need to have some luck in this league to win.
(on Justin Blackmon’s progress)
He’s come along every week, and I’d say for the last 10 weeks this guy has been on an upward climb of being that player that people are expecting from him and I think that he expects from himself. He really works hard in practice to be a better player, and it’s showing up on Sundays.
(on Daryl Smith providing a spark)
It was nice just to see him smile. He’s just been so unhappy not being able to play. He’s such a competitor, and he’s worked his tail off to really get back with his teammates. He has a presence on a practice field that is immediately felt. It brings some confidence to our defense that he’s out there. Not real vocal, but an unbelievable leader on our team. Obviously, voted captain at the beginning of the year.
(on if Chad Henne has performed like he hoped when he was named starter)
We brought Chad (Henne) in here to back up Blaine (Gabbert) in the case that we had an injury, which we did with Blaine. Chad came in there in that Texans game and had a big game against them, and really was productive. We were going to make a move there with Chad just because of how productive he was. The one thing that Chad has is the experience with more starts than Blaine. There are some things that he does in this building that Blaine has even learned from him about grabbing younger players and sitting down with them on the side and talking through a lot of things. I think he’s been great for Blaine during this injury. When I studied him when he was at Michigan when we were doing our quarterback search when I was with the Falcons, that was one of his strengths, his leadership ability. He’s definitely got it.
(on Maurice Jones-Drew’s status)
He just ran this morning. We’re going to see how things go. Again, we have a couple different phases here in regards to who he is working with. He’s in the phase now that they are football drills, not drills that are involved with his teammates, but drills that are involved with the strength coach and he’s putting him through that. He’s further along than he’s been since the injury. I’ll know more after he gets done running here this morning. He’s probably going to be questionable again.
(on if it might be a better decision to hold Maurice Jones-Drew out of Sunday’s game)
We’re still trying to win games. Every one of these games, if we can find anybody that can help us win, we’re going to do it. That’s kind of been the case. This is not about evaluating younger talent and this and that, it’s never been about that. We’re evaluating these guys every day anyhow. It’s about trying to win the games. If we can have him for one game to help us win, we’ll take advantage of it.
(on the defense’s play changing from last year to this year)
It’s not the same defense. We have a number of guys that finished last year that didn’t start with us this year, starting with our two linebackers, Clint Session and Daryl Smith. That had a big impact on our defense when you have two starting linebackers that haven’t played. Again, we’ve had a variety of corners filling in for us. We have just had different pieces to this defense. The guys that have filled in have done the best that they can, and that’s all we’ve asked of them. It’s not the same personnel that finished last season this year.