Dave Ragone is probably not a household name in your particular household unless you were a big fan of NFL Europe, where he was the Offensive MVP for the Berlin Thunder back in 2005. Ragone didn’t have much of an NFL career as a player after those lofty heights, but he has now put together a decade-long coaching career there, and that experience and being on the same staff as new Falcons coach Arthur Smith might wind up leading him to Atlanta.
Per Adam Caplan, Smith be looking to add Ragone as his offensive coordinator or passing game coordinator. We’ve gotten mixed reports thus far regarding whether Smith intends to call plays in Atlanta, but encouragingly, Caplan shares that he does plan to and would add Ragone to help with scheming and play design.
As first noted yesterday, look for Dave Ragone (Bears passing game coordinator) to potentially join his staff as highest ranking offensive coach (as OC or passing game coordinator).— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) January 15, 2021
I'm told, however, Smith is planning on calling the plays. https://t.co/2Pp3SIq9Ja
Ragone spent the last season with the Chicago Bears as their passing game coordinator, presiding over a passing attack that was 12th in yards and 16th in touchdowns despite having Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles under center all year. That seems pretty impressive on its face, but you do have to remember that Ragone has also been the team’s quarterbacks coach from 2016-2019, meaning Trubisky did not exactly thrive under his tutelage. I’d personally put more of that on Trubisky’s limitations than any failures on Ragone’s part, but it’s hard to know how we should divvy that up. I would suggest that last season suggests Ragone is capable of designing a passing attack that works even if he’s working with limitations, and those limitations will be less pronounced in Atlanta if he winds up here.
Why is Smith interested, though? Ragone was the wide receivers coach in Tennessee from 2011-2012 and was the quarterbacks coach in 2013, which overlapped with Smith’s time as a defensive quality control coach, then offensive quality control coach, then offensive line coach. If Smith is looking to maintain control of play calling—and that makes a lot of sense, given that is objectively the most impressive thing about his coaching tenure to this point—then adding a coach he’s familiar with and handles planning but not play calling is probably a wise move.
We’ll see if this comes to fruition or not, but it’s the first report we’ve gotten about where Smith might go with filling out his staff. It’s an indication that as expected, he’s going to plumb his past for worthwhile additions, so take a look at some other candidates who might make sense because of the ways their careers have overlapped with Smith’s.