After the hiring of former Titans OC Arthur Smith at head coach and former Saints executive Terry Fontenot at GM, we’ve all been waiting for news on what coaches and staff members the two planned to bring to the Falcons. Things have been pretty quiet this week, with mostly rumors to go off of, including the potential for former Titans DC Dean Pees to join Arthur Smith in Atlanta and the team looking into Panthers assistant Frisman Jackson and Bears passing game coordinator Dave Ragone for OC.
Today we received our first firm report on an expected coordinator hiring from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
The Falcons are reportedly set to hire Lions assistant special teams coach Marquice Williams as their special teams coordinator. Williams spent the 2019 and 2020 seasons in Detroit, and helped returner Jamal Agnew lead the league in return TDs in 2019. He appears to be a versatile coach, as Williams also spent three seasons with the Chargers (2016-2018) as a defensive assistant.
Interestingly, there doesn’t appear to be a clear connection between Williams and either Arthur Smith or Terry Fontenot. This could be an example of what both Smith and Fontenot preached in their early press conferences, that they’re simply looking to surround themselves with the best people and not just a bunch of “yes men” and buddies from around the league.
Williams isn’t particularly well known around the league, but he helped lead the Lions to some impressive marks in both kick and punt returns. Detroit finished 3rd in yards per punt return in 2019 with 12.8—compared to an anemic 8.9 for the Falcons (17th)—and 8th in yards per kickoff return with 24.9. The Lions were also great at special teams coverage in 2020, allowing just 5.5 yards per punt return (3rd) and 21.4 yards per kickoff return (14th).