With new Atlanta Falcons coach Arthur Smith starting to assemble his staff, he’s bound to bring in his own guys to staff various assistant positions.
On Wednesday, we got word of some assistants from the Dan Quinn staff won’t be staying on for Smith’s coaching roster, including some big names like offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and offensive line coach Chris Morgan.
Falcons coach Arthur Smith let OL coach Chris Morgan go today, I'm told. Morgan was initially brought to Atlanta by Kyle Shanahan—so he's an interesting name with that scheme popping up everywhere.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) January 20, 2021
D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC also notes that defensive assistant coach Aden Durde will be joining Quinn in Atlanta to coach Dallas’ defensive line.
Obviously, hiring Smith meant the writing was on the wall for Koetter, and him being retained was always an incredible long shot. Morgan, though, is noteworthy since he’s been with the team since 2015 and was one of the only holdovers from Kyle Shanahan’s original staff, ultimately working with three offensive coordinators. He did a really nice job in his first few years but the unit on a whole declined a bit starting in 2018. Matt Ryan has taken too many hits as of late, and the run game hasn’t been consistently boosted by the OL performance. Scheme plays a big part in that, and fans had been clamoring for a changeover for a couple of years now. Morgan’s experience and familiarity with Shanahan means he won’t be looking for work long.
The offensive line for the Falcons has plenty of promise with Jake Matthews continuing to play at a high level and young, emerging talent in Chris Lindstrom, Kaleb McGary and Matt Hennessy. But Smith most assuredly has his own guys he wants to staff his offensive line with as he begins to form his assistant coaching pool.
Watch out for Titans assistant offensive line coach Mike Sullivan for the OL vacancy. He and Smith have been together in Tennessee since 2014 (at the start of Ken Whisenhunt’s brief stint with the team), and Sullivan has an extensive background coaching offensive lines in the NFL.
He’s been Smith’s assistant offensive line coach with the Titans since 2019 and held that same role from 2014-17. He was an offensive assistant in 2018. It’s entirely possible the Titans would let former Atlanta assistant Keith Carter jump on with Smith, but it’s not quite as likely as Sullivan given how successful he’s been in Tennessee coaching that unit. Though, another potential hire we’re not aware of just yet is surely in the mix as well.
In addition to the names above, Raheem Morris is expected to land with the Rams and potentially take defensive analysts Bob Sutton with him, while Jeff Ulbrich is expected to head to the Jets with new head coach Robert Saleh. Only special teams coordinator Bernie Parmalee has a realistic shot to stick around at the coordinator level after he did a nice job taking over for Ben Kotwica last year, while assistants like defensive backs coach Doug Mallory and wide receivers coach Dave Brock may or may not be back as well.
Who will Smith hire for his offensive staff? Many hires remain, and it’s always refreshing to get new perspectives with the way our offense is coached. They’re certainly needed.