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Jags Fire Mularkey After Disastrous Season

Jacksonville, Fla. — The more Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan watched his team play, the more he realized one thing:

“We needed a rebuild from the ground up,” Khan said.

So the Jaguars fired coach Mike Mularkey yesterday after just one season, the worst in franchise history. The move came 10 days after Khan fired general manager Gene Smith.

Khan also introduced new GM David Caldwell yesterday, and by parting ways with Mularkey, gave him a clean slate heading into 2013.

“I bring a track record of success,” Caldwell said. “I’ve never endured a sustainable losing team.”

But maybe the biggest nugget came when Caldwell said New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow is not in the team’s plans.

“I can’t imagine a scenario where he will be a Jacksonville Jaguar.” Caldwell said.

Mularkey, who went 2-14 this season, became the eighth head coach fired since the end of the regular season. He looked like he would be one and done when owner Shad Khan parted ways with general manager Gene Smith last week and gave Mularkey’s assistants permission to seek other jobs. Even though Khan ultimately hired Mularkey, Smith directed the coaching search last January that started and ended with the former Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator.

“Mike Mularkey is leaving our organization with my utmost respect,” Khan said. “Mike gave the Jaguars everything he had on and off the field, and his efforts as our head coach will always be appreciated.”

Mularkey’s brief tenure — he didn’t even last a year — was filled with mistakes. His biggest one may have been his loyalty to Smith, who assembled a roster that lacked talent on both sides of the ball.

Mularkey probably stuck with Smith’s franchise quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, longer than he should have. And the coach’s insistence that the team was closer than outsiders thought and his strong stance that he had the roster to turn things around became comical as the losses mounted. The Jaguars lost eight games by at least 16 points, a staggering number of lopsided losses in a parity-filled league.

Mularkey would have been better served had he said publicly what he voiced privately: that the Jaguars didn’t have enough playmakers or a starting-caliber quarterback.

Instead, he never conceded that Jacksonville was a rebuilding project that needed time.

Browns Hire Coach

Cleveland — Rob Chudzinski’s first head coaching job will be with the team he loved as a kid.

Chudzinski, who spent the past two seasons as Carolina’s offensive coordinator, has been hired by the Cleveland Browns as their sixth full-time coach since 1999.

The Browns are hoping the first-time head coach can end years of despair and constant losing and maybe resurrect a franchise that has made just one trip to the playoffs in the past 14 years.

A Browns spokesman confirmed Chudzinski’s hiring last night and said he will be introduced at a news conference today.

Chudzinski will be the Browns’ 14th coach in team history. For the past two years, the 44-year-old has worked with talented Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

Chudzinski has had two previous stints with the Browns as an assistant coach. He coached tight ends for Butch Davis in 2004, and then came back to the Browns in 2007 and was Cleveland’s offensive coordinator for two seasons under Romeo Crennel.

Chudzinski grew up in Toledo, Ohio, where he pulled for the Browns. Chudzinski interviewed with the team on Wednesday, and was viewed by many to be a longshot for the job.

However, he wowed owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner during his meeting and the team decided to give him the job after interviewing at least eight other candidates.

The Browns have been searching for a coach since firing Pat Shurmur on Dec. 31 following a 5-11 season.

Under Chudzinski, the Panthers finished fifth in total offense in 2011 and 12th last season.

Last year, Chudzinski interviewed for head coaching jobs with St. Louis, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay before returning to Carolina.

Nonetheless, if Khan really wanted to fire Mularkey, he would have done after the season finale along with Smith.

So this was Caldwell’s call.

Caldwell and Mularkey spent four years together in Atlanta, getting to know each other well enough that Caldwell didn’t need a sit down with Mularkey after he got the GM job Tuesday.

Caldwell and Khan have a news conference scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Potential replacements for Mularkey include former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith, Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman.

Schottenheimer was up for the Jacksonville job last season, and Roman has been linked to the Jaguars since Caldwell became the leading candidate to replace Smith.

Roman and Caldwell were teammates and roommates in the 1990’s while attending John Carroll University.