Kyle Shanahan got a lot of head coaching buzz in 2015 after the Falcons got off to a hot start, but when they fizzled out, all that talk quieted down. This year is very different.
We’ve learned that Shanahan is set to interview with four different teams this week, including the Rams, Jaguars, Chargers, and Broncos. Denver is the marquee franchise on this list, but the Jaguars have an interesting collection of young talent, the Chargers have the location and an (aging) franchise quarterback, and the Rams are...really great, you guys. There’s at least a decent chance Shanahan lands one of those jobs and leaves the Falcons, unfortunately.
If that happens, the Falcons would need to replace him, and no less an authority than Matt Ryan has stated that he believes that replacement will come from inside the building.
Matt Ryan tells @680thefrontrow a number of internal coaches capable of directing offense if Shanahan leaves but not getting into that now.— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) January 3, 2017
While there are some quality offensive coordinators readily available—Mike McCoy is particularly intriguing to me—it makes sense to keep some continuity if you like what this current coaching staff has accomplished on offense, and the Falcons would be nuts if they didn’t like what the current coaching staff has accomplished on offense. The Falcons lead the NFL in scoring by a wide margin and are insanely productive almost every week, with one of the most effective aerial attacks and best ground games in the league. There’s plenty of talent on the roster, sure, but that doesn’t just happen by accident.
So the chances they choose to keep at least some of these coaches in place is very high. Shanahan would likely look to poach the likes of running backs coach Bobby Turner and quarterback coach Matt LaFleur, but if either one was in line for the offensive coordinator position in Atlanta, they could probably be persuaded to stick around. At the very least, the Falcons would like to keep some of those assistants around, as they’ve done good work more or less across the board.
My bet for quite some time now has been that Raheem Morris would ascend to the offensive coordinator position if Shanahan does get a head coaching opportunity elsewhere. Morris is in his first year as the team’s wide receivers coach, but he’s very close with Dan Quinn, he’s already the assistant head coach, and the Falcons didn’t move him to the other side of the ball on a lark. They’ll need to ensure that some of the current staff stays in place and there are seasoned assistant coaches available to help him, but it’s not as though Morris doesn’t have game planning and coordinator experience at the NFL level. It just hasn’t come on offense.
This is all hypothetical for now, though. We’ll see if Shanahan lands a job, and what the Falcons elect to do if that should happen, after Atlanta concludes its playoff run. Hopefully that won’t be for a long while yet.