Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ex-QB Likes Coaching Them; Fired Alabama Coach Mike Shula Lands in a Nice Spot with the Jags

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ex-QB Likes Coaching Them; Fired Alabama Coach Mike Shula Lands in a Nice Spot with the Jags

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL C. WRIGHT

Regardless of team or his place in the pecking order, Mike Shula wants to be near the quarterbacks.

Every day and in any way possible, he explained.

"I love coaching quarterbacks," Shula said Thursday after the Jaguars completed their final day of organized team activities. "Our job is to get the most out of these guys."

A former quarterback and head coach at the University of Alabama, Shula now is in charge of tutoring the Jaguars' quarterbacks, who bear the brunt of responsibility for the team's anemic 24th-ranked aerial attack of 2006.

So, how will the performance be remedied? By emphasizing solid fundamentals, Shula says.

After reviewing film of last season's games, Shula says he didn't notice an abnormal amount of technical errors from Byron Leftwich and David Garrard. Rather, the decision to focus on fundamentals is simply Shula's coaching philosophy.

"One of the things we'll work on with all of our guys is our footwork, the consistency in our drops and keeping balanced in the pocket," Shula said. "We think the quicker they get set up, the better chance they're going to have when they throw the football.

"The great quarterbacks throughout the years have always had very good feet in the pocket and have always been on balance throwing the ball."

Dropping back with eight- to 10-foot tall nets placed in front of them, Jaguars quarterbacks the past three days fired passes over obstacles used to simulate opposing defensive linemen with outstretched arms.

In one drill, the offense simulated the breakdown of a play. Receivers altered routes, and quarterbacks rolled out and launched passes on the move - all actions that will be used in game situations.

"Just different drills to try to emphasize certain throws we have that day," Shula explained. "There are going to be some things we'll do different from what they're used to. Let me just say we're glad to have [quarterback] Byron [Leftwich] in. These last three days have been our first look at him up close."

Shula, the son of Hall of Fame coach Don Shula, became the fifth former head coach to join the Jaguars' staff. Hamstrung by tumultuous times (including NCAA sanctions) prior to his arrival at Alabama, Shula was fired last November after posting a 26-23 record in four seasons. Approximately two months after leaving Alabama, Shula interviewed with the Jaguars.

"At the time, I wasn't sure what I was going to do, where I was going to go," he said.

Shula also interviewed for the Miami Dolphins head job that went to Cam Cameron in mid-January. By the end of the month, the Jaguars chose him as their quarterbacks coach.

Shula had worked two stints with the Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers and one with the Chicago Bears prior to coaching at Alabama. …

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