Arthur BlankArthur Blank

London (Special to – The have not had a winning season since 2017 when Dan Quinn was the head coach. Quinn was fired in 2020 and replaced by then- offensive coordinator Arthur Smith. After three consecutive losing seasons and a combined record of 21-30, Smith, was dismissed on January 8th, the dreaded ‘Black Monday'.

So, for the second time in three years and the sixth time since bought the Falcons in 2002, the ‘Dirty Birds' are looking for a new head coach in order to deliver the Lombardi trophy that the owner craves.

It's easy to forget that Smith was a hot commodity back in 2020. The Titans offense ranked 5th in total yards, 2nd in rushing yards and 3rd in scoring. The Titans were also first in scoring touchdowns in the redzone in Smith's two years as OC. The Atlanta Falcons had struggled to score touchdowns in the redzone since 2016.

Sometimes the hot coordinators just don't cut it as head coaches or if they do then probably not at the first time of asking. Even got fired with his first attempt. More on him shortly.

Back in 2020, the Atlanta Falcons were linked to eight candidates including Smith. So far this time around that number is double and currently sits at sixteen as Blank is determined not to have to go through this process again anytime soon.

Early rumours suggested that Blank wanted , as he saw him as the one man who was as close to guaranteed success as you can get, which in truth is no guarantee at all.

Atlanta Not Jazzed About Bill Belichick

However, much of the Falcons fanbase has balked at the idea of the former Patriots head coach and six-time Super Bowl winner taking over, seemingly for several different reasons. Those include his recent coaching record post-Brady, his choice of co-ordinators, and his possible instance of being in charge of personnel decisions. Some of which have been more than questionable of late. Not to mention his age, 72. How long would he stick around for?

The ‘post Brady' jibes seem an easy way for people to turn against the appointment but, those people should ask themselves, what have all the other candidates done that Belichick hasn't, Brady or not? And was it Brady who shut down the ‘Greatest Show on Turf' in SB XXXVI or the Falcons themselves in SB LI and the Rams again in SB LII?

Bill Belichick, the football coach, and nothing else is more than acceptable but the apparent baggage that comes with him has put people off, including those in the Atlanta front office who, it seems have at least tried to turn Blank off the idea of hiring possibly the greatest head coach of all time.

As for the other candidates, Jim Harbaugh and have both been head coaches before, and both appear to be among the front runners at this point. Morris was interviewed by the Falcons in 2020 before they hired Smith. He also filled in when Quinn was fired after an 0-5 start and posted a 4-7 record.

Morris was seen as the next great thing by Tampa Bay when they fired John Gruden to keep Morris back in 2009. Perhaps like Belichick, Morris wasn't quite ready the first time around. He has certainly impressed as the Rams DC since he left Atlanta in 2020 and deserves another shot as the top man somewhere soon.

As for Jim Harbaugh, although a name and a recent winner of a National Championship with Michigan, he hasn't been in the for ten years and was only present for four years back then.
Harbough had a major falling out with then-GM Trent Baalke in San Francisco. If Belichick comes with question marks then Harbaugh must come with major concerns. As it stands the Chargers appear to be the front runners for Jim Harbaugh, although he may even return to Michigan. Jim Harbaugh's choice of co-ordinators must also be a serious question mark.

As for the remaining nine names on the list, they have all had one interview to date and according to press reports, the Lions OC Ben Johnson, Texans OC Bobby Slowick, and the Ravnes pair, DC Mike MacDonald and assistant head coach, Anthony Weaver lead the way.

Surely, Arthur Blank is wary of hiring the hot coordinator again after the recent hires of Dan Quinn and Arthur Smith. So does that rule out Johnson or Slowick?

Slowick's lack of NFL experience, only one year as offensive coordinator would, and honestly should work against him this time out. Johnson only has two years of experience as an OC but seems likely to get a head coaching job somewhere in the next month. Rumours are that both have impressed the interviews they've had to date around the league.

Current Ravens DC, Mike MacDonald was interestingly DC for Harbough at Michigan in 2021 and again only has two years NFL experience as a co-ordinator but aside from that one year in Michigan has been in Baltimore, a steady and well-run orginisation since 2014.

The same issue of experience in at least a co-ordinator position is evident with Anthony Weaver. Weaver was DC for the Texans in 2020. A job he didn't exactly excel in. Again, the choice of OC/DC could be the make or break for many of the younger and less experienced coaches going for the top job around the NFL.

There is one more name to mention, Mike . The recently fired head coach of the Titans, Vrabel has been quickly added to the list of possibilities. Vrabel posted a 54-45 record in Tennessee and was perhaps unfairly let go by the Titans.

With Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank determined to get this next hire right, expect Blank aided, or hindered, as most Falcons fans would likely tell you, by CEO Rich McKay to take as much time as he possibly can in the quest for the first Super Bowl winning coach of the Atlanta Falcons.


By David Squires

Dave Squires is Cartoonist for The Guardian UK as well as a long-time ZENNIE62MEDIA, INC, NFL Blogger. (He dabbles in vlogging, from time to time, too. Dave is, as they say, our Man in London.

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