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With the search for a new head coach underway, what should the Falcons be focusing on?

Fact: sticks and stones won't break Arthur Blank's bones

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons fired Mike Smith today. I'd normally say something like, "now the coaching search begins in earnest." But as we know, the Falcons' search for a new head coach began before their season-ending loss to the Carolina Panthers. This all begs a relatively simple question: what are the Falcons looking for in a head coach?

Let's start with what Arthur Blank wants, because that's sure to be determinative going forward.

Blank is  a no nonsense, business-minded guy. If his patience with Smitty told us anything, it's that he isn't consumed by a need for short-term returns. He will tolerate a learning curve, inasmuch as it's evident the team is trending in the right direction.

Blank wants a guy that can be with the Falcons for the better part of a decade. He also wants a guy that will do better than Smitty did. The latter requirement should be obvious, but it warrants some emphasis. He's looking for a guy that can be truly great, not just anyone. The problem, of course, is that speculation is really the name of the game. There are only a few elite candidates, and there's no guarantee any of those men are interested. Beyond that, they're looking for potential, and that's always an inexact science.

So this is where you come in. What should the guiding principles of this search be? What characteristics will Smitty's ideal replacement embody? If you were a member of the search committee, what questions would you ask each prospect? Discuss!