The Atlanta Falcons took a deliberate, calculated approach the last time they hired a head coach. If you recall, it was right before the Super Bowl. Many names were floated, but over time, each of the favored candidates signed with other teams. But then everything became clear: the Falcons were zeroing in on Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. You knew about the Seahawks defense, but be honest, did you know about Quinn? He couldn't officially commit to the team until after the Super Bowl; that said, the writing was on the wall. We knew he was headed to Flowery Branch. And so it goes in the NFL.
NFL head coaches aren't exactly plucked from obscurity. As much as we'd like to think that front office executives go knocking on random doors, hoping to parlay some unknown coach surfer's Madden expertise into on the field success, that's just not how it works. It's a bit of a "club," if you will. For that reason, it's natural to wonder which current Falcons coaches could find themselves in a head coaching role at some point in the foreseeable future. Here are three current assistants who I believe could be on that track.
I know what you're thinking: "what are you smoking, James?" But hear me out for a moment. When the Falcons were hot last season, Shanny was hot. His name was widely circulated as a potential head coach candidate. If the Falcons somehow turn it around this year and throw the ball to someone not named Julio Jones, Shanny could once again become a prized commodity. To his credit, the guy can do wonders with your running game. (You just have to keep your franchise quarterback as far away from him as possible.)
Morris is of course a former head coach. He's presently serving as the Falcons' assistant head coach and wide receivers coach. He's still young and is now sufficiently removed from his prior head coaching gig, so I could see a team looking his way at some point. Maybe he won't get hired, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him get an interview or two.
Cox has always been an outspoken person. To be frank, that could work to his detriment when it comes to standing out to search committees. Still, Cox knows how to motivate his guys and as a former player, he's well-respected and trusted. He will need to stop assaulting other teams' scouts to stand a chance, but let's be honest, stranger things have happened in the NFL.
So what say you? What current assistants could you see making the jump in the not so distant future?