The 2020 season is over. The Atlanta Falcons finished 4-12, last in the NFC South, and fired longtime general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn. It was a season to forget, and with the season now officially over for the Falcons, it’s time to look toward the future.
On Monday, team owner Arthur Blank and team president Rich McKay held their end of the season press conference to shed some light on the upcoming offseason and where the team is at in their search for the next general manager and head coach.
Don’t expect a quick head coach and GM hire
Arthur Blank says the interviews the team has conducted both HC and GM "have gone well." He says the Falcons have a long list of interviews remaining this week.— William McFadden (@willmcfadden) January 4, 2021
It was already reported that the Falcons were set to interview San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bienemey virtually on Monday morning, and it appears the team has a list of other prospects they expect to talk to in the coming weeks. Although no further names were provided, we do expect that they’ll talk to Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Blank, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, and Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley.
On the general manager side of things, no further updates were given. It does appear that the new general manager will have overall say on the futures of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones though, with Blank implying that he doesn’t want to tie their hands from making key decisions about the roster. There was no clear talk of who the next GM and head coach might be and how quickly we might expect them to be hired.
Falcons won’t zero-in on an offensive-minded head coach
McKay says the Falcons made the mistake of zeroing in on an offensive coach with Petrino, a mistake he says he'll own forever. Says the team won't pigeonhole themselves by only focusing on one side of the ball for their head coaching search— The Falcoholic (@TheFalcoholic) January 4, 2021
The last time the Falcons hired an offensive-minded head coach was 2007 with Bobby Petrino, one of the biggest coaching disasters in NFL history. McKay, who takes responsibility for the hire, implied during Monday’s press conference that he learned from that situation not to focus solely on one side of the ball when looking for a potential head coach.
Although I understand the hesitation, the NFL has quickly shifted to an offensive-focused league and the Falcons have gone the defensive-minded route in their last two head coaching hires. Mike Smith went 66-46 with the team, winning one playoff game while Dan Quinn went 43-42 winning three playoff games. In my opinion, it’s time for an offensive mind who won’t be hired away after a successful season.
Matt Schaub is retiring from the NFL
Arguably, the only real news of the day was Blank announcing that longtime NFL quarterback Matt Schaub is retiring from professional football. Schaub was drafted by the Falcons in the third round of the 2004 draft and spent much of his first stint in Atlanta as the backup to Michael Vick. He returned to Atlanta in 2016 after spending time with the Houston Texans, Oakland Raiders and Baltimore Ravens. Schaub will retire as the Texans all-time leading passer in yards, touchdowns and wins.
Blank wants team to be competitive every year
Blank says he doesn't want this organization to be Super Bowl or bust. It has to be competitive every year for the Falcons, doesn't want to go through three consecutive lackluster seasons as they just did— The Falcoholic (@TheFalcoholic) January 4, 2021
A pretty vague statement considering what owner doesn’t want their team to be competitive every year, but that remains the goal in Atlanta. After making the playoffs from 2016-2017, the Falcons have entered a playoff-drought having three consecutive seasons of 7 or fewer wins. Whether the new regime is able to make that dream come true is to be determined, but Blank indicated that he thought the team was closer to .500 than their 4-12 record in terms of talnt, but that’s still not good enough.
That basically sums up Monday’s end of the season press conference. Not entirely exciting, but if you’d like to watch it for yourself, click here.