The Falcons are only one more game from kicking off a more expansive set of interviews for their open head coach and general manager position. Since we have known the Falcons would be hiring replacements for months, we have seen plenty of rumors you can see in the search tracker.
There have been a few repeat names, like Atlanta’s interest in Rick Smith, Terry Fontenot, and Arthur Smith. More surprising is the team’s interest in a vast array of defensive coaches. Under team owner Arthur Blank, the Falcons have only hired one offensive head coach. In that circumstance, things went wrong very quickly like a motorcycle crash. It should be noted that the Falcons have yet to be linked to any college coach in this cycle.
The league’s three official rumor merchants Ian Rapoport, Mike Garafalo, and Tom Pelissero had some interesting updates on Atlanta’s new search for a head coach and general manager.
We see Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith pop up again. Smith has connections to Rick McKay, who appears to be leading if not making the hiring decisions. Smith would be great if the team hopes to retain Matt Ryan. Smith has orchestrated a stout run game while maintaining a quarterback friendly scheme that has gotten the most out of Ryan Tannehill.
The new names on the list can be considered significantly less interesting. The Falcons are “researching” former Jets head coach and current Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. No one looks good with the Jets, however, signing a retread can’t possibly get the fanbase fired up. Bowles seems to be a much better coordinator than head coach. Another new name is Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley. Staley is in his first year coordinating an NFL defense that has plenty of talent and has only three years experience as a position coach in the pros. He must be strongly recommended or linked to a potential general manager because he has not otherwise earned the consideration.
What general manager? Well that is the biggest news. The following are reportedly under consideration by the Falcons.
- Former Texans GM Rick Smith
- Colts director of college scouting Morocco Brown
- Saints VP/assistant GM of pro personnel Terry Fontenot
- Rams college scouting director Brad Holmes
- Bears assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly
- Vikings assistant GM George Paton
- Bills assistant GM Joe Schoen
There are plenty of new and interesting names, including multiple assistant general managers. However, it is tough to understand how much each person is responsible for their team’s success or lack thereof. In particular, the Colts and the Bills have made some very good personnel decisions in the last few seasons. The interviews will almost certainly matter more than their current team’s record.
Most concerning is the last sentence of the Falcons blurb.
With McKay and fellow former GMs Ruston Webster and Phil Emery on staff, there would be a support system to help a younger executive to grow into the job.
We have covered the league-wide concern of potential candidates that McKay’s presence may be problematic. The general manager is typically reporting directly to the owner, a situation that was true for Thomas Dimitroff until the 2020 season. The team indirectly called the rumors, confirmed by multiple outlets, incorrect. However, based on this blurb, McKay, as well as Webster and Emery, appear to envision having a role typically handled solely or primarily by general managers.