Only a week ago, Arthur Smith was still the head coach for the Atlanta Falcons. The strong and consistent rumors at the time were Smith needed a win to keep his job. Smith did not win and never got close to it, instead, getting blown out against the Saints in what turned out to be a meaningless game, win or lose. Arthur Blank waited one nanosecond into “Black Monday” to leak that Smith was fired then set a disastrous press conference with Rich McKay.
Then there was silence. While reports were coming left and right about team interviews, there was nothing about Atlanta. No permission requests, no interviews on the schedule. There have been consistent rumors about Atlanta’s interest in Bill Belichick, which could lead fans to believe Atlanta was all in on the former Patriots head coach. Were other interviews simply not the priority?
After the few days of quiet, reports finally started coming through. The list is looking pretty comprehensive, including most of the top names available in the league.
- Aaron Glenn, Lions DC
- Ejiro Evero, Panthers DC
- Steve Wilks, 49ers DC
- Mike MacDonald, Ravens DC
- Brian Callahan, Bengals OC
- Ben Johnson, Lions OC
- Bobby Slowick, Texans OC
- Anthony Weaver, Ravens AHC/DL coach
The notable missing interviews would be Bill Belichick as well as Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, the two making up the biggest names available... however, actual interest at least in Belichick seems more limited.
So far, it looks like Arthur Smith and Rich McKay are casting a wide net which includes offensive and defensive minded coaches. You’d probably like to see a few more names on that list, like former Falcons coach Raheem Moore, and maybe Ravens offensive coordinator Todd Monken.
Atlanta added another interview to its schedule on Sunday, this time requesting to meet with former player and Raiders interim head coach Antonio Piece. Pierce is the only candidate so far without some coordinator experience. In fact, his coaching experience is extremely thin: Pierce came in as a linebacker coach before nabbing the interim head coach job after Josh McDaniels’ second in-season firing.
The good news? Pierce received the interim job because players were so supportive of the coach. He got the Las Vegas Raiders to 5-4 with a no-name quarterback after a horrendous start to the start. You’d probably call Pierce a players’ coach who will need to bring in some more veteran coaches at coordinator. While it is a bit unique, other coaches like Dan Campbell have made the transition successfully.
Pierce is also a favorite for the Raiders job. If the Falcons are interested in Pierce, it better get an interview moving forward soon.