With the Atlanta Falcons well underway with their search for an offensive coordinator, we know of four candidates: Dirk Koetter, Darrell Bevell, Gary Kubiak, Mike Mularkey.
Koetter and Bevell seem to be the favorites for the job, with Kubiak a dark horse assumed to stay with the Denver Broncos in some role. Mularkey is a bit out of nowhere but has a connection, of course, with the earliest part of Matt Ryan’s tenure.
But there are probably other names out there that the team could consider at this point of the coaching cycle, right?
I’ve laid out why I think former Patriots and Chiefs OC Charlie Weis might be one of those, but here are thoughts on others that seem destined to be aiming for an OC job in the NFL.
Jim Bob Cooter
The former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator didn’t exactly end his tenure in the Motor City with a ton of fans, but ran a strong show with the Lions in 2017. They were seventh in points and sixth in passing yards. He’s a respected name around coaching circles and is going to end up leading someone’s offense next season. Could it be Atlanta’s?
He’s also worked with Matt Ryan’s pal Matt Stafford, who could put in a good word for the young OC who should have room to improve as a play caller (he’s only 34).
Well, you want a former Broncos offensive mind? How about Musgrave! He hasn’t had a ton to work with as Denver’s offensive coordinator, though he oversaw the UDFA sensation Phillip Lindsay. He also ran Oakland’s offense in 2015 and 2016, where he oversaw that ‘16 Raiders offense that went 12-4 and could’ve pushed for playoff success if not for Derek Carr’s season-ending injury.
He was the first quarterbacks coach to work with Matt Ryan as a pro during Musgrave’s tenure with the Falcons from 2006 to 2010. He’s got plenty of experience as an offensive coordinator (he was with the Vikings from 2011 through 2013 and the Jaguars in the early 2000s) and could potentially thrive with what Atlanta has to offer.
Kitchens exploded onto the scene this season, leading one of the best Cleveland Browns offenses in eons and spearheading the development of rookie QB sensation Baker Mayfield. With the Browns looking for a new head coach who might run his own offense, Kitchens could go from Cleveland’s assumed OC to one of the hottest names on the market.
Atlanta offers the best unit to scheme for of any potential opening, and you wonder if the Falcons are waiting to see where he winds up. He’s going to get plenty of interest if Cleveland goes in a different direction.
A Pete Carroll guy, Canales has been with the Seahawks in various roles for quite some time, and he’s worked with Dan Quinn when Canales was the wide receivers coach and DQ the defensive coordinator. The Seahawks’ offense has been largely exceptional this season, with Canales now the quarterbacks coach behind Russell Wilson’s resurgence to elite status.
Could he be poised for more? You have to give some credit to new Seahawks OC Brian Schottenheimer, but Canales should be next in line to receive a pat on the back. If things don’t work out with Bevell, could Canales be next in line for an interview?
Gary Kubiak’s old offensive coordinator is soon to be out of a job once the New York Jets change out coaching staffs, and if you want a veteran mind to run the Shanahan offense, he’d be someone to key in on.
Dennison has helped run some great offenses in Houston, and again, the talent tends to elevate certain minds in Atlanta. He’s got a specialization for offensive line coaching, so perhaps he could coach up and improve the situation up front for the Falcons?
The former Falcons offensive assistant and current 49ers running game coordinator could be a rising mind in the NFL, and the Falcons know him, which is a plus. He’d run the Shanahan system and could add his own ideas into the game plan.
He’s definitely not a veteran coach, but he could have tons of potential as a play caller. His San Francisco run games are quite productive with not a lot of talent, but how much of that goes to Kyle Shanahan calling the plays? McDaniel is a name to watch, regardless.
The Rams quarterbacks coach is getting head coaching interviews right now, and you can probably understand why. The Sean McVey coaching tree is about to sprout, and Taylor might be the next guy up. Though it seems awful early in his career to get an offensive coordinator job.
He’s worked with quarterbacks like Andy Dalton and Ryan Tannehill in the past, and is helping develop Jared Goff now. You have to think everyone looking for an offensive coordinator is going to consider Taylor as his name goes ‘round the carousel.
DeFilippo was let go from Minnesota after a so-so season, but has been long-regarded as a rising star in the coaching ranks. He was part of the brain trust who led Philly to a Super Bowl win and was Cleveland’s offensive coordinator in 2015.
He’d have a better overall offering of talent in Atlanta than he had in Minnesota and light years better talent than he had in Cleveland circa 2015, so maybe this is the spot he could land to live up to the potential folks see in him?
Stefanski doesn’t look like he’ll be back in Minnesota with that team circling Hue Jackson, and he was credited with sparking an offensive revival with the Vikings after the team moved on from DeFilippo. He’s a career man with Minny, so it’s a bit odd to see him moving on. He’s interviewing for Cleveland’s top job and is likely considered another one of these potential McVay/Shanahan/Matt Nagy types that are all the rage now, for good reason.
If he doesn’t land a head coaching job, he might factor into Atlanta’s conversation if the team is still looking for an OC by the time he finds out his fate on the head coaching carousel.
Hackett is the scapegoat of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 2018 collapse, but he did an admirable job running the show in 2017 with Blake Bortles, Leonard Fournette, a mediocre offensive line and a depleted group of receivers. They got all the way to the AFC Championship and actually gave the Patriots a game, so don’t be surprised if Hackett’s name begins to bubble up for potential openings.
He could also come with a recommendation from Jags GM Dave Caldwell, who was once with the Falcons. The team has looked to former Jaguars coordinators before (Mike Smith, Dirk Koetter).
This is very much a long shot, but Philbin did a decent job calling plays for the first time in his career with the Packers when he took over as interim head coach in December. He’s a veteran offensive mind who’s worked with Aaron Rodgers before a failed stint as the Dolphins’ head coach. It’s not likely, but he’s got the tenure the team could be looking for. He’s worth mentioning, at the least.