Atlanta just brought aboard a new coaching staff in 2021, but they’re already making changes and having change forced upon them. Already in 2022, the Falcons have lost a position coach to a college offensive coordinator job, fired another position coach, lost an assistant position coach to the Dolphins, and had yet another position coach interview for the offensive coordinator position in Miami, though he did wind up staying.
Dave Brock had spent a long time with the Falcons in one role or another, and his dismissal might mean the Falcons are preparing to do new things at the position, especially given that Brock was an advocate for impending free agent Russell Gage. It’s unclear why Brock was let go now, but presumably the team’s oft-discussed offseason review unearthed reason for doing so. Chandler Henley, meanwhile, is pursuing an opportunity in Miami with their new head coach Mike McDaniel.
The Falcons hired Michael Pitre to replace Des Kitchings, their 2021 running backs coach who went to Virginia this offseason, but they now have to fill the assistant offensive line and wide receivers coach positions. Let’s take a look at how they might do so.
Wide receivers coach
Dave Brock had been with the Falcons in some capacity since 2017, hopping over from being the head coach at Delaware to be the assistant wide receivers coach from 2017 to 2018. He spent part of 2019 as the running backs coach and part as wide receivers coach, and had been in that position through 2021. The disastrous 2021 season for his wide receiver group appears to have convinced the team to move on.
Atlanta may essentially start over at receiver—only Frank Darby is under contract and a lock to be back, with trade rumors swirling around Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage and Olamide Zaccheaus hitting free agency, and so on—and they may have wanted a fresh start with the coach as well.
David Culley would be an intriguing choice for this team. The doomed 2021 head coach of the Texans wasn’t given a fair shake in Houston after being the biggest surprise hire of last year’s cycle, but he’s well-regarded and has extensive experience in the position, having spent almost 25 years serving as a wide receivers coach for several NFL teams. He also has been an assistant head coach twice, for the Chiefs from 2013-2016 and the Ravens from 2019-2020, and would seem like a logical fit as the assistant head coach for the Falcons, who have yet to fill that position on their staff. Culley would seem like a slam dunk hire if the team is interested, especially because the Falcons may need a steady hand if they’re basically going to reset the position.
Other potential options include Jim Hostler, a senior offensive assistant for the Washington Commanders who has nine years of experience as a receivers coach and would’ve overlapped with senior executive Kyle Smith in Washington, as well as Shawn Jefferson, the one-time Falcons wide receiver and current Cardinals receivers coach who was in Tennessee in the same role when Arthur Smith was an assistant. I’d also throw out Bob Bicknell, who isn’t currently in the league but held wide receiver coaching jobs with a variety of teams from 2012-2020 and worked with Justin Peelle while in Philadelphia.
Naturally, these are just candidates who seem interesting and have some connections to the staff, and the Falcons could go with a completely different candidate. I would expect them to prioritize experience with the possibility that they’ll be importing an almost entirely new group of receivers.
Assistant OL coach
As mentioned, Henley is off to the Dolphins, which means the Falcons have an opening for an assistant offensive line coach. Especially after last year’s struggles and with so many young linemen this team will be intent on developing, I expect that hire to be a priority.
The most appealing choice is one who doesn’t seem particularly likely to take an assistant gig. That’d be Mike Munchak, who was recently fired as the Broncos offensive line coach. Munchak is experienced—he’s been an offensive line coach in the NFL for 23 years and had a three year stint as the head coach of the Titans—and his time as a head coach could also make him interesting as an assistant head coach if Smith wants to go that route.
One thing to consider for those intrigued by the idea of the #Falcons hiring Munchak.— Matt Karoly (@mattkaroly) January 30, 2022
Arthur Smith never filled the asst HC role on his staff which could be the path to hiring Munchak w/o shaking up his staff. Munchak would then serve as a sr OL advisor to Ledford & Henley.
Failing Munchak, the Falcons could dip into the college ranks or try to poach an assistant offensive line coach from elsewhere. Titans assistant offensive line coach Mike Sullivan overlapped with Arthur Smith in Tennessee and might be willing to make the leap over, while current Wisconsin inside linebackers coach Bob Bostad was the team’s offensive line coach while Smith was an assistant in 2014 and 2015. Again, there are a great many candidates out there, but the Falcons will want to nail the hire to give Dwayne Ledford some help and ensure they’re setting up that shaky line for success in 2022 and beyond.
I expect we’ll see both these roles filled well before the draft, and the team’s willingness to part ways with Brock suggests they have a candidate in mind to fill his position. Who are your preferred candidates for these two jobs?