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Why the Falcons Coaching Search May Be Going Exactly as Planned

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Arthur Blank didn't get to be a billionaire by being a fool.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

As was revealed last night, rumored Falcons head coach front-runner Todd Bowles met with the New York Jets on Tuesday and is likely to be hired as their next head coach. This follows the news of Rex Ryan having taken the job in Buffalo after being heavily rumored to be a strong candidate for the Falcons.

At first glance, it looks like the team has now missed on two straight candidates. People are panicking that the team is going to be left with a "runner up" candidate that will lead the team into the dark ages. But I'm beginning to think the opposite is true.

I think this coaching search is going exactly as intended.

Here's the thing to remember about both Rex Ryan and Todd Bowles. Neither was given an offer from the Falcons. So, the idea that they chose another team over the Falcons is false. And the reality is that in both cases, Bowles and Ryan did contact the Falcons to let them know that the Bills/Jets were "jumping in line." The Falcons response: Nothing.

I now believe that both coaches were very interested in the Falcons job. In fact, I think both wanted to be the next head coach of the Falcons, but neither got an offer. I don't think it was a matter of the Falcons dragging their feet either. I think in both cases, the end result was very intentional.

During this whole process, almost all pundits agreed that Atlanta was the most desirable situation for any coach to come into. I don't think that perception changed at all. I think Bowles and Rex would have loved to come to a team with an offense in need of slight tweaking, and a defense they could focus on. I also believe that teams like the Bills and Jets also realized this - and I believe they "jumped in front" of the Falcons, because they truly believed one of their top candidates would take the job in Atlanta if they let them get to the second interview. So both teams did just that, and hired two "top candidates" for the Falcons - or so they would like you to believe.

But what if Ryan and Bowles were not the top candidates? What has the net result been?

Well, as it stands right now, the Jets and Bills have taken themselves out of the head coaching search. Indications are strong that the Raiders will hire Jack Del Rio, while the 49ers are leaning strongly towards Adam Gase. If the Bears/John Fox rumors are true, that will leave only the Broncos and Falcons as teams in need of a head coach.

That would ultimately mean that there are two openings and just two candidates: Teryl Austin and Dan Quinn.

By waiting out the process, the Falcons let the Jets panic (who were interested in Quinn) and hire Bowles. The wait also got the Bills to sign Rex to a big contract and also take themselves out of the running. And like dominoes on a table, the other teams are beginning to jump as the list of candidates is shrinking. By staying silent and letting the other teams make moves, it's entirely possible that the Falcons have done exactly what they wanted.

Which is why I think Dan Quinn has been one of the top targets for the Falcons all along.

Of all the candidates, Quinn is one of the only ones who couldn't be hired early (along with McDaniels). The Falcons knew this. But by letting other teams believe they had Rex as #1, then Bowles as #1, they've now taken two teams out of the coaching search and they've effectively tipped the dominoes for the rest of the league. If the rumors all flesh out, that means the Falcons will be one of the only teams remaining once Quinn becomes available.

If this plays out - and the Falcons hire Quinn - it will have been a brilliant strategy by the team, though one inherently fraught with very high risk. By not showing their hand, or "communicating clear," the Falcons may have taken every other team out of the way for a candidate they may have wanted all along.

Of course, if they hire Austin this week, then disregard everything you've read here. That outcome is still very much in play.

So what say you? Do you think the process is working as intended, or are the Falcons really just failing at each turn?