The Atlanta Falcons may be on the lookout for new coordinators a week from now, and a new name might need to enter the realm of possibility on the offensive side of the ball.
Let’s now consider former Patriots offensive coordinator and Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis.
Charlie Weis, who has not coached in the NFL since he was the Chiefs' offensive coordinator in 2010, said this weekend that he is interested in becoming an offensive coordinator in the league again. https://t.co/PMyTfQO7Pm— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 23, 2018
Schefter says in the piece that Weis is expected to garner interest from the league despite several years away from football. Weis’s connections to the Falcons coaching staff coupled with the team’s expected need for a new offensive coordinator makes this an intriguing prospect.
SB Nation’s Steven Godfrey made note about not being super-excited about the idea of Weis being the guy for the vacancy on Twitter, which got this writer’s wheels turning. As it turns out, Weis might actually be the most likely person for the job not named Darrell Bevell.
Weis has a direct connection to Falcons head coach Dan Quinn. Quinn and Weis worked together under Will Muschamp at Florida.
Weis and Quinn were both with the Gators in 2011, where the former was the OC and the latter the DC. Soon after that season, Weis went up to Kansas to be the Jayhawks’ head coach from 2012-2014, while Quinn’s path, of course, led him through Seattle to Atlanta.
Muschamp said the two worked well on that staff congruently.
Muschamp said his coaching staff is "working very well" together. Praised coordinators Charlie Weis and Dan Quinn.— OnlyGators.com Florida Gators news (@onlygators) April 20, 2011
Weis also hyped up Quinn being a head coach way back in 2014.
So the two very much have a relationship with each other. That might’ve been part of what inspired the Falcons to hire Weis’ son, Charlie Weis Jr., in 2017 as an offensive assistant.
The younger Weis is a highly-regarded up-and-comer around the game who inspired one of the more eye-opening stories to be told about a coach in quite some time. It involves the evaluation of Weis by NFL legend Gil Brandt (per Bleacher Report).
Long story short, he compared the younger Weis to Bill Belichick.
The B/R story also notes Weis Jr. came handpicked with Steve Sarkisian from Alabama, with Sark allowed to take one Bama assistant with him.
So you have to think about this next quote carefully when you think of that Brandt anecdote, knowing Weis Jr. left Atlanta after the 2017 season to join Lane Kiffin at FAU as his OC.
“I know for a fact [Falcons coach] Dan [Quinn] wasn’t happy losing him,” one NFC scout tells Bleacher Report. “You won’t talk to one person who has a bad thing to say about Charlie. He’s going to be a star in this business. Lane is way ahead of the curve on this.”
This matches how highly Quinn spoke of the former assistant last season.
Dan Quinn said Charlie Weis Jr. has got the stuff to be a successful coach in this league. Weis Jr. an offensive assistant.— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) November 17, 2017
If Quinn really thought highly of Weis Jr., and has a natural connection with Weis from their days at Florida, perhaps Atlanta should consider a reunion.
The elder Weis, of course, was the offensive coordinator of those early-00s Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots teams and a look at the Pats system back in the day shows it might not be a bad fit for what the Falcons like to do with its personnel.
You know the offense well; it has been the bread and butter of Tom Brady’s career.
The Patriots’ “Erhardt-Perkins offensive system,” as it’s called, might not be the worst transition for Atlanta with its personnel. New England has a similar offensive line makeup to the Falcons now; Joe Thuney, a Patriots guard, was a Falcons target in that draft class.
This leads us to another Weis link to Atlanta, as he and general manager Thomas Dimitroff were both Belichick guys who would up elsewhere due to their time with the Patriots.
Well let’s face it, Charlie Weis is a fantastic coach and having been under Weis and his tutelage he is definitely pro-ready.
Atlanta needs an offensive coordinator with experience, and if Weis really is interested in the gig, he might have a legitimate shot with all of his connections.
Bevell is probably the odds-on favorite to land the job right now should it come available, but what if that’s a smokescreen? Does this news of Weis being interested in returning to the pro level and the expectation that Atlanta will change out the OC spot all link to each other?
Quinn might be interested in having his old Florida companion (and Dimitroff his old Pats colleague) return to run the offense, which could also, hypothetically, spark Charlie Jr. to return to Atlanta in a higher capacity (like a positional coach). The team would get its accomplished veteran mind, and Matt Ryan would work with a guy who’s worked with Brady.
If Weis Jr. did come along, that would bring an exciting young offensive mind back in house. As you know, those are quite popular these days. Could dad turn the keys over to son one day?
Now the caution here is, obviously, if Weis could scheme something to meet the modern demands of what NFL defenses can do. The game has drastically changed since Weis’ heyday with New England, and he’s not had an NFL offense under his control since the turn of the decade.
He also struggled mightily at Kansas, though that might have more to do with it being the Kansas job, which has seen few successes over the last few years.
Maybe his stop in Kansas City would be more telling? That Chiefs team he was the OC of found success running the ball and made Matt Cassel look like a decent starting quarterback. It wasn’t the best of units, but it absolutely shouldn’t be overlooked, considering the talent on the roster and the production.
Not to play connect-the-dots too much, but the GM of the Chiefs at that time? Scott Pioli, current assistant GM for the Falcons and another Patriots alum. Weis was part of the Chiefs draft that saw guard Jon Asamoah taken, who later ended up with the Falcons. He also oversaw the drafting of Tony Moeaki, who was a Falcon in 2015.
There’s a lot of circumstantial evidence that links Weis to Atlanta. We’re purely speculating with the connections and potential vacancy, so take all of this for what you will.
It would meet exactly what the Atlanta front office typically does, though: hire people they have a working relationship with and meet exactly what the focus of the moment is.
Consider the Sark hire just two years ago when the team wanted to keep the Shanny playbook intact, or when the team moved Raheem Morris, Quinn’s old companion, to offense to help the receiving group. OL coach Chris Morgan was a former Seattle guy, as was Marquand Manuel, the current defensive coordinator. Dimitroff hired his old Pats colleague Pioli back in 2014 as his assistant GM, too.
Veteran minds and leadership might be the soup du jour this offseason, so watch for Weis.
One final note: Weis was just around the team last fall, paying a visit to see his son in action.
Charlie Weis here to check out his son, Falcons offensive assistant Charlie Weis Jr. pic.twitter.com/owyn5Hx5S7— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) December 8, 2017
Could this become a regular sight on Sundays next fall?