With Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian no sure thing to stick around past the end of December, the team might be in the business for a new play caller.
You have to think, after Sark, the team will maybe want to focus on a veteran mind to run the show, as opposed to someone rawer and more potential-laden like Sark was.
We talked previously about the different folks from the Shanahan tree who could come to Atlanta and finish the job Kyle started a few years ago.
What if Atlanta diverges away from that tree, though? What if they go for a tenured coach, or a wily newcomer or a familiar face? What if Gary Kubiak is happy being retired?
Let us survey the options below of guys who could qualify for the job that don’t necessarily have Kyle or Kubiak in their list of phone contacts.
This feels like one of those hires that you just don’t overthink.
If Kubiak is busy and former Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy wants to run the offense in Atlanta next season, ask him how much he wants and if he prefers a reserved parking place closer to the practice field or main offices.
McCarthy has led Green Bay’s offense with aplomb for nearly a decade, and as some coaches do in the NFL, just came to a passing of the ways in Wisconsin.
He’s still a sharp offensive mind who helped lead one of the NFL’s premiere franchises for 12 seasons, and has worked with the decade’s best all-around quarterback in Aaron Rodgers for quite some time. The team’s Super Bowl roughly eight years ago was a testament to a team rallying when things weren’t going so hot to achieve ultimate success, which is something the Falcons, er, can’t say they’re great at.
He runs a zone scheme and could help instill a new mentality into this offenses that fuses with Dan Quinn’s culture, and well, could use taking one of the most talented offensive rosters and maximizing its potential to angle for a head coaching job in 2020.
Even if it’s only for a year, it’d be a heck of a year.
Perhaps the Falcons would be best to look a little further into the past to fix the future. Why not bring back former offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter?
Koetter, who was with the team for three seasons before being shipped out at the end of the Mike Smith era, hasn’t exactly succeeded in his tenure as Buccaneers head coach and is poised to get the ax come the end of December. Though, no one can argue his offenses aren’t insanely productive.
Just this season, the Buccaneers are second in the NFL for all-purpose yardage with 5,591, putting them just behind Kansas City and ahead of offensive juggernauts like the Rams, Steelers, Patriots, Chargers and Saints. They’re a bit lower in scoring (25.5, good for tenth), but that’s perhaps just attributed to the general quality of the team.
Todd Monken has done a fine job as offensive coordinator in Tampa this season, but make no mistake. This is Koetter’s team, and they know how to move the ball and score points.
Bringing him back to Atlanta would end the Shanahan scheme, but it would put Matt Ryan back in an offense where he clearly thrived, even when the teams weren’t so great. Perhaps they could bring Monken along, too, to really give this team some brainpower in the offensive play calling.
Caldwell isn’t exactly part of Club Shanny-Kubiak, but he’s someone who ran an outside zone scheme in Detroit, and someone whose last stint as an offensive coordinator ended with confetti and a trophy.
Caldwell is a tenured NFL veteran who has worked with plenty of big quarterbacks and has found plenty of offensive success. In 2012, he took over mid-season for Cam Cameron in Baltimore and helped spark the Ravens offense to win a Super Bowl a few months later.
His Lions teams were at times quite good, and at other times, not amazing. And his 2013 Ravens offense wasn’t amazing, though the cupboard was a bit bare for the team that season. They also had that blasted Super Bowl hangover to consider.
While the older Gruden prepares the Raiders to tank for Vegas, the younger Gruden might find himself on the hot seat after two straight seasons of missing the playoffs (and a third brewing) in Washington and a record as a head coach that has never eclipsed 9-7.
His half-decade with the team in the Beltway never really took off like it might’ve with more stable ownership and talent development. We soon forget he helped lead the Bengals to three straight playoff appearances back in his Cincy days.
Gruden’s scheme is a mix-and-match of zone and power, which could work with what Atlanta has now. He’s also seen homegrown guys like Jordan Reed, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses and Chris Thompson thrive in his system. Veterans like Adrian Peterson and Vernon Davis also found new waves of their career in his offenses.
He could head back to Cincinnati should Marvin Lewis retire and Hue Jackson take over, like has been speculated, but he’s an outside contender for Atlanta’s job should it come open.
Throwing Hackett’s name in here, former Jaguars offensive coordinator and the scapegoat for the 2018 Jacksonville Jag-tastrophe.
He had a wonderful 2017 working with not a lot to help get the Jags to the AFC Championship game, and he’s still quite young in his coaching career.
Remember, the young Shanahan had his share of tumult before exploding in Atlanta.
Hackett will probably land somewhere in the 2019 coaching cycle, and it could be with the Falcons if they feel like he’s really a diamond in the rough who needs more stability at quarterback than he was getting in Jax.
Though, he’s also a bit younger, so that might prohibit Atlanta from being too interested. The team will probably want a veteran NFL mind.