Mularkey brings experience, empathy to Falcons

By: associated press
By: associated press

ATLANTA (AP) -- Mike Mularkey could be just what the Atlanta Falcons need in an offensive coordinator.

Working with players disappointed by a 4-12 finish last year, Mularkey brings several assets to new coach Mike Smith and a bedraggled offense that had the NFL's lowest scoring average.

The 46-year-old Mularkey has spent his last 23 years in the league, including two as a head coach in Buffalo, four as a coordinator with Pittsburgh and nine as a tight end with Minnesota and the Steelers.

But his new players might respect Mularkey for another intangible. That is the ability to endure turmoil. The Falcons felt betrayed after Smith's predecessor, Bobby Petrino, resigned suddenly in December and disappointed by quarterback Michael Vick, who landed in federal prison for dogfighting.

Mularkey has some stories, too. After leading Buffalo to a 9-7 finish as a first-time head coach in 2004, Mularkey struggled through a 5-11 season the following year. He resigned after Bills owner Ralph Wilson fired general manager Tom Donohoe.

Moving to Miami to become Miami's coordinator, Mularkey spent one year on the job before Nick Saban resigned as Dolphins coach and left for Alabama. Cam Cameron, who replaced Saban, led the Dolphins to a 1-15 record last year.

Smith hired Mularkey last week, but the Falcons still have several spots open on their staff.

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