Mike Mularkey, the one-time offensive guru who had helped turn Kordell Stewart into a Pro Bowl quarterback, who revitalized the career of journeyman quarterback Tommy Maddox in Pittsburgh, got his groove back in 2008 when he put Atlanta's offense back on the map.
Mularkey hasn't really got a fair chance while being a head coach with quarterbacks like J.P. Losman, Kelly Holcombe, Blaine Gabbert, and Chad Henne. He also lost his best player MJD when the Raiders took him out for the season.With that being said Mularkey won't see a head coaching job for awhile.
His offense is a personnel-based scheme, where Mularkey and his staff tailor plays and play calls to the abilities of the talent. It's a system Mularkey devised as Pittsburgh's offensive coordinator in 2001 with fellow offensive assistants Russ Grimm and Ken Whisenhunt.
"It started with us meeting and evaluating our personnel, and in reality, this system started with Kordell and
worked its way down from there," Mularkey said. "We saw what we had offensively, player-wise, and said,
'Let's fit what we have here. Tinker some things -- don't even install things -- that we know our left tackle can't
do. Even though it looks good or another team is successful with it, let's not put any player in a position
where he is uncertain if he can do it.'
"You want your quarterback to have success, but if one guy isn't put in the position to be successful, you can't
run that play."
The only constants in Mularkey's offenses has been blocking tight ends and tough running backs. The quarterbacks and offensive lines have had a variety of skill sets, so Mularkey has had multiple ideas, sets and schemes.
His skill for creating special packages to utilize multi-dimensional players such as Hines Ward and Antwaan Randle El earned him the nickname "Inspector Gadget". Even with his creative imagination, his philosophy of being the most physical punishing offense helped the Steelers average 10+ wins a year during his 3 years as offensive coordinator.
His first year in Atlanta he took them from 29th to 10th in scoring offense. He's shown the flexibility to go run heavy (like in 2001) or pass heavy (2011), in part because he uses the players he has to accentuate their strengths.
In other words Mularkey is the anti-Knapp.