Mike Smith and the Falcons aren't wasting any time populating his staff. If their gruesome choices for candidates are any indication, they probably should've taken the week off.
First, congratulations to Emmitt Thomas for being promoted/demoted to assistant head coach. He's deserving of it for his service to the team, and I think he was a very solid choice. It's just unfortunate that the wagon careens downhill so fast from there.
I've been an advocate of giving guys a chance this offseason, so I'm going to try to make my criticism as fair as possible. Let's begin with new defensive coordinator hire Brian "The VanGorder" VanGorder, who you may recall was the linebackers coach under venerable toolbag Bobby Petrino. If your memory is going for a jog, you may also be suddenly mugged by the knife-wielding recollection that VanGorder left for a job with the South Carolina Gamecocks (teehee), with Garnet and Black Attack raking him over the coals. At the time, he declared himself the consummate college guy and pledged to stay there forever.
Forever, apparently, just doesn't mean what it used to.
That's not to say that VanGorder can't be a decent coordinator, but the real brains on defense was always likely to be Smith. If VanGorder is just a lying weasel of a puppet, that'd be fine. If he actually brings something to the table, then that's better than fine--it's superfine.
There's no such room for easy praise when it comes to the team's likely offensive coordinator hire, known commodity Mike Mularkey. When the Falcons decided to go with Smith over an offensive hire like Josh McDaniels or the loveless Jason Garrett, I think many of us assumed they would get a dynamic offensive coordinator. Smith might know a lot about personnel and defense, but I'm willing to wager he doesn't know a naked bootleg from his favorite porn site. Instead, the Falcons chose to go with a guy who served as the tight ends coach for the freakin' Miami Dolphins last season and hasn't been a rousing success pretty much anywhere. [editor's note, by Dave the Falconer]Factual errors in here; so out they go.. He did preside over some talented Steeler offenses, as Pudge points out, and he did his head coaching tour with the Bills. My biggest problem with Mularkey is a combination of watching his Bills teams play with him at the helm (not pretty) and his conservative play calling (which worries me given the dink-and-dunk approach the team took this season). We'll see.
All of these hires smack of a conservative game plan, which I don't oppose on the surface. The Falcons likely don't have the personnel to air it out on offense. Still, I have to give the coordinators an incomplete until the season starts. Based on their track records, I'm not going to fully invest in their success just yet.