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Who is your preferred general manager/head coach combo?

With a good candidate list, our answers ranged a bit.

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

We’re hurtling toward the hiring of a new general manager and head coach for the Falcons, with both likely to be selected by sometime in February, if not much sooner. That begs the obvious question for fans like us: Who exactly do we want in these roles?

I think it’s important to note that these are just preferences, not “you must hire these people or else.” We know less about coaches and especially GM candidates than we do about players, in general, so

Rick Smith/Eric Bieniemy

The simple truth about general manager candidates is that their work is harder to know than coaches. What does a college scouting director do in a given organization and how responsible is he for the draft picks the team brings in? What is an assistant general manager’s role and how much blame or credit should he get for a team’s moves? With those questions and others always looming, assuming you have a slam dunk candidate in mind is probably foolish. Out of the frankly encouraging candidate list the team has assembled to this point, Smith is probably my favorite given his on balance strong work with the Texans for a decade-plus.

At head coach, there are similar questions, but I gravitate toward BIeniemy for the way fellow Chiefs coaches and players rave about him, the way the Chiefs offense has excelled as he’s been offensive coordinator, and the strong possibility he’ll bring a quality staff with him from Kansas City and other stops. I would be happy with several combinations on the list we’ve seen thus far, but this would be my ideal outcome. - Dave Choate

Rick Smith/Any Offensive minded coach

Normally, hiring a GM who was fired by another team is not a great path to success. With Rick Smith, however, the problems in Houston appear to be more about the power that former head coach Bill O’Brien wielded than anything Smith did as GM. Smith did good work while he was with the Texans and he understands the GM role already. That experience is going to be critical for an Atlanta team that will need to navigate some potential cap issues in 2021 and beyond.

As for the next head coach, I really just want to avoid another defensive hire. We’ve done it twice in a row with Mike Smith and Dan Quinn and now it’s time to change the script. Whether it’s Eric Bieniemy, Arthur Smith or Brian Daboll is almost irrelevant to me. I want someone to come in who has experience with running a creative, modern NFL offense so that losing an offensive coordinator doesn’t destroy the continuity of the offense again. - David Walker

Reggie McKenzie/Brian Daboll

I have been surprised to see McKenzie receiving only limited attention early in the general manager search. McKenzie dug the Raiders out of the basement they had been in for over a decade. Prior to his time with Oakland, they were a perennial bottom-feeding team, with a maxed-out cap, no developmental players, and bad draft after bad draft. By the time he was pushed out by Jon Gruden, the Raiders had their cap under control and built up a core through the draft and smart free agent signings. He proved he can do the job better than most. I’d take McKenzie or another proven commodity like Rick Smith. For head coach, the Falcons have a lot of options that I think could be great depending on their preferred path forward: replacing Matt Ryan or trying to keep things rolling for the next few years. I think Daboll could break either way, while I imagine Eric Bieniemy may want a new quarterback and Arthur Smith could roll with Ryan through the end of his current contract. All these coaches have plenty of potential. - Matt Chambers

Who would be your top choices?