We’re not in the halls of Flowery Branch when Dan Quinn is interacting with coaches, so it’s not easy to say what might prompt certain firings this offseason. With Steve Sarkisian, Marquand Manuel and Keith Armstrong, at least, you knew it was on-field performance, the desire for a fresh perspective, or both. With Wade Harman, whose firing Vaughn McClure at ESPN reported last night, the motive is harder to understand.
Harman arrived in Atlanta back in 2014 as an assistant to offensive line coach Mike Tice, who was out after one year with the Falcons. Dan Quinn retained him as a tight ends coach, however, recognizing Harman’s experience and success from 1993-2013 with the Ravens in that exact role. As the tight ends coach for Atlanta, Harman presided over the growth of Austin Hooper, who turned in the finest season of his career in 2018, and the progression of second-year tight end Eric Saubert, who looks like he’ll be a fine backup at the very least.
What could possibly be behind the change, then?
Falcons have parted ways with tight ends coach Wade Harman, multiple sources tell me. Puzzling move since Harman very instrumental in development of Pro Bowl alternate Austin Hooper. Harman well-respected not only by Falcons players, but players he's... https://t.co/7d2WeqOQ5G— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) January 1, 2019
There are a couple of possibilities. One is that Quinn simply wanted a fresh voice and perspective at the tight end position, which is not really a particularly defensible position given Harman’s track record and success. The other is that he’s making way for a coach a new offensive coordinator would be more comfortable with, and that’s a change that at least makes a lot more sense.
The logical candidate, as Rise Up Reader’s Matt Karoly noted, is longtime Gary Kubiak assistant Brian Pariani, who has been on Kubiak’s staff almost everywhere he’s gone over the last decade-plus as a tight ends coach. If the Falcons are making a serious push for Kubiak—and Kubiak is interested in running a great offense, instead of whatever John Elway’s got over there in Denver—then it just makes sense to make room for his tight ends coach.
The name to keep an eye on for the #Falcons now vacant TE coaching job is Brian Pariani. If he’s hired, it’s likely Atlanta hires Gary Kubiak to be their new OC. Pariani has been with Kubiak at nearly every stop of Kubiak’s NFL career.— Matt Karoly (@mattkaroly) January 1, 2019
If Dirk Koetter is a serious candidate, even as a fallback, the Falcons could also import his second-year tight end coach Ben Steele to the staff. If it’s Darrell Bevell, it could be longtime (2010 on) Seattle tight end coach Pat McPherson. This probably illuminates less about who the next tight end coach will be then the fact that the new Falcons offensive coordinator is probably going to want to import his own guy, and we probably haven’t seen the last of the turnover on the offensive staff.
Still hope it’s Kubiak, though. We wish Harman well wherever he lands next, and he shouldn’t lack for suitors.