The NFL playoffs are in full swing, and apparently so is the rumor mill. Late last night, the Seattle Seahawks fired their longtime offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. That obviously means that the team is actively searching for a replacement, or perhaps they already have one in mind. Today—as you’ve likely already noticed—the buzz is that Seattle is very interested in first-year Falcons’ OC Steve Sarkisian.
Matt Chambers has already done a good job of calling attention to the questionable sources of the rumor, but let’s break down some of the practical reasons why this move doesn’t really make sense.
The move is, at best, a lateral one for Sarkisian
Sarkisian would be leaving a pretty desirable job in Atlanta—one with a top-tier QB, strong receiving corps, solid rushing attack, and good offensive line—for the same job in Seattle. The Seahawks are a capable offense, but they are a much more difficult fix: that offensive line is atrocious and the running game is utterly non-existent. Career-wise, Sark would almost certainly be better off remaining with the Falcons.
Atlanta wouldn’t allow Sarkisian to leave unless they already planned to demote or fire him
Continuity is important to an offense, and despite Sarkisian’s rocky first season in Atlanta, all signs pointed to him returning to the Falcons for the 2018 season. There’s no practical reason for allowing Sark to leave the team for a lateral move—it would mean that Ryan would be on his third OC in as many seasons and wouldn’t necessarily help Sark’s career.
If the Falcons had secretly planned on demoting Sarkisian or outright firing him, however, they would be much more likely to let him pursue another opportunity.
There is no “heir apparent” in waiting
Another possibility would be if the team had been grooming someone to take over, or had planned to promote another internal candidate. However, there don’t appear to be any options on staff. There was some buzz that Raheem Morris (who hadn’t even coached offense prior to 2016) could be in the running after last season, but that never materialized.
Outside of Morris, there aren’t any other truly experienced options available. Much of Shanahan’s experienced staff either followed him to San Francisco or left to pursue other opportunities. That makes Sark’s departure look even less likely to happen.
Dan Quinn said it wasn’t going to happen
There’s obviously this little tidbit from Wednesday’s press conference.
Quinn sounds completely shocked about any mention of Sarkisian leaving Atlanta. Says "zero chance of that" at his press conference.— Kevin Knight (@FalcoholicKevin) January 10, 2018
On the other hand, here are a few smart reasons why the Falcons might consider letting this happen.
Seattle offers a trade for Sarkisian
If Seattle really wants to hire Sarkisian (which would be puzzling from a practical perspective but makes a lot of sense from a relationship standpoint), the Falcons would be smart to consider a trade. It’s not ideal for Atlanta, but if the opportunity presents itself to move a relatively unproven coach for draft picks (perhaps a 3rd rounder or some other package), the Falcons might be open to that proposal.
The Falcons have had talks with a high-profile OC, like Gary Kubiak
This somewhat bleeds into the other line about the Falcons already planning to move on from Sarkisian (or perhaps demote him), but in this scenario Atlanta has already laid the groundwork for hiring a high-profile, experienced NFL OC. Someone like Gary Kubiak, perhaps, who runs a similar West Coast-style offense. But there hasn’t been much buzz for this possibility and it seems pretty far-fetched.
Chaos is fun, right?
There you have it. Steve Sarkisian is very, very unlikely to be leaving Atlanta to become the new offensive coordinator of the Seahawks. This can serve as your daily reminder to take rumors with a grain of salt—particularly ones this patently ridiculous and sourced by Jason LaCanfora.