The Jacksonville Jaguars dismissed coach Mike Mularkey after one season, the team announced Thursday.
New general manager Dave Caldwell and owner Shad Khan will discuss Mularkey’s firing at a 4 p.m. ET news conference.
Mularkey becomes the eighth NFL coach fired since the regular season ended. Two of those teams have since hired new coaches, with Andy Reid, who was fired by the Eagles, taking over the Chiefs and Doug Marrone joining the Bills.
The Jaguars fired general manager Gene Smith last week but left Mularkey in limbo until a new GM was hired. Caldwell was named to the job this week.
“I informed Mike today that he will not return as head coach of the Jaguars,” Caldwell, who worked with Mularkey when both were with the Falcons, said in a statement. ”I know Mike well and do not want anyone to misinterpret the rationale behind my decision. Mike is an excellent coach and I am sure he will succeed in his next stop in the NFL.
“However, I must do what I believe is best for the Jacksonville Jaguars and immediately explore every avenue possible to turn our football team around. For that to happen as seamlessly as we want, and as quickly as our fans deserve, I feel it is in everyone’s best interests for an immediate and clean restart.”
Among candidates for the Jaguars coaching job are expected to be 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and Falcons special-teams coach Keith Armstrong, league sources told ESPN.
Roman and Caldwell were teammates and roommates in the 1990s while attending John Carroll University.
The Jaguars had already given their assistant coaches permission last week to look for other jobs.
In the 51-year-old Mularkey’s first season, the Jaguars finished 2-14 in 2012, the worst record in franchise history.
Jacksonville lost eight games by 16 points or more this season. Not even Jacksonville’s inaugural team in 1995 — a group composed of mostly rookies and street free agents — was overmatched as often. Coach Tom Coughlin’s ragtag bunch finished 4-12 back then, losing four games by at least 16 points. The 4-12 record had been the worst in franchise history.
“Mike Mularkey is leaving our organization with my utmost respect,” Khan said in the statement. “Mike gave the Jaguars everything he had on and off the field, and his efforts as our head coach will always be appreciated. Mike will land on his feet soon. Until then, I wish nothing but the best for Mike and his family.”
Mularkey signed a three-year contract on Jan. 11, 2012, getting a second chance to be a head coach six years after resigning with the Buffalo Bills.
His return was shaky from the start.
His best player, running back Maurice Jones-Drew, skipped offseason workouts as well as training camp and the preseason in a contract dispute. His first draft pick, receiver Justin Blackmon, was arrested and charged with aggravated DUI in June. And his team was riddled with injuries, including key ones to linebacker Daryl Smith and Jones-Drew.
Even things Mularkey had control over went awry.
He had to backtrack after saying Chad Henne would compete with Blaine Gabbert for the starting job in March but later declaring Gabbert the starter before training camp began. He created a stir by threatening to fine players up to $10,000 for discussing injuries. He initially played rookie receiver Kevin Elliott over Cecil Shorts III early on. And he really irked some players with tough, padded practices late in a lost season.
He also may have mishandled injuries to receiver Laurent Robinson (four concussions before going on IR) and Jones-Drew (who admittedly should have had foot surgery sooner). Dating back to his final season in Buffalo, Mularkey has lost 20 of his last 23 games.
Mularkey has a 16-32 career record.