The Falcons promised a stealth search for their offensive and defensive coordinators, but the names are already leaking out.
The Falcons would like to have the coordinators in place so that could help work the Senior Bowl in Mobile, with the scouting starting on Jan. 21 and the game on Jan. 28.
But if the candidates are in the Super Bowl, the Falcons wouldn’t be allowed to seek permission until after the game on Feb. 5.
“We are going to bring candidates in,” Smith said. “We have skill-sets that we are going to be looking for in the different candidates.”
Some of the candidates for the vacant offensive coordinator position are Green Bay quarterbacks coach Tom Clements, Dirk Koetter, Brian Schottenheimer and Brian Billick.
Longshot candidates include Hue Jackson and Mike Martz.
Internal candidates include wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie and quarterbacks coach Bob Bratkowski, who could go to Jacksonville, but informed the AJC this morning that “nothing is concrete yet!”
NFL Network’s Joe Theisman, who knows Schottenheimer from his days coaching with the Washington Redskins, linked him to the Falcons in a radio interview on 680TheFan’s morning show, the Rude Awakening on Thursday.
“He’s going to have a whole lot more to work with, with Matt Ryan,” Theismann said when discussing Schottenheimer and his relationship with Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.
When asked to clarify his comments, Theismann said, “I’ve [said] Brian was going to be the offensive coordinator.”
Smith and Jets coach Rex Ryan worked together in Baltimore and prefer the similar “ground and pound” running attacks.
Clements, 58, would not become available until the Packers are eliminated from the playoffs. Clements, an attorney, has been the Packers quarterbacks coach for the last six years. He was an offensive coordinator in Buffalo in 2004 and 2005, but was stripped of his play calling duties.
The former Notre Dame quarterback has 19 years coaching experience and has worked under Bill Cowher, Mike Ditka and Lou Holtz.
Koetter, 52, was Jacksonville’s offensive coordinator from 2007 to 2011. Smith is high on Koetter’s work and how running back Maurice Jones-Drew was able to lead the league in rushing while the Jaguars had a rookie quarterback and an anemic passing attack.
Koetter and Schottenheimer both have interviews with the University of Alabama.
Billick, 57, is Smith’s brother-in-law and has been out of coaching since 2007. He gave Smith his big break in the NFL back in 1999.
Billick was the offensive coordinator in Minnesota from 1992 to 1998. The Vikings made the playoffs in six of the seven years during Billick’s tenure. In 1998, his offense broke the league scoring record with 556 points. (New England broke their mark in 2007). However, in Baltimore his teams were better known for their defense. He guided them to a victory over the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV.
The new offensive coordinator will be charged with elevating the offense into a high-scoring machine on par with the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints While Smith doesn’t want to be one-dimensional, the Falcons believe they have enough weapons to win shootouts if necessary. That’s why the offense getting shut down in the playoffs by the New York Giants was so traumatic for the franchise.
The offense got bogged down too often in the red-zone last season. On 60 red-zone trips, the Falcons scored 31 touchdowns (51.6 percent), which was 13th in the league. Detroit led the league at 66.1 percent.
Also, the unit struggled with integrating wide receiver Julio Jones and running back Jacquizz Rodgers into the attack.
“In this league to be successful, we talk about the matchups being very important, there is the sort of ‘Sun Tzu’ approach; the art of surprise and deception and that’s very important. Again, moving forward with a new coordinator and continuing the focus on how we are going to utilize the talent is very, very important for our success,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog