THE OC SEARCH: Names starting to surface

Brian Schottenhiemer was the offensive coordinator the past six seasons for the New York Jets. By Kathy Willens, AP

Brian Schottenhiemer was the offensive coordinator the past six seasons for the New York Jets. By Kathy Willens, AP

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

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104 comments Add your comment

SEGa

January 13th, 2012
7:00 am

AtlantaFAN

January 13th, 2012
7:01 am

Blue Fender

January 13th, 2012
7:23 am

We definitely need a slash type RB like Sproles. Quizz may be the answer, but we haven’t used him like that yet. Maybe getting MM out of the picture will open up – dare I say it – the screen pass?

DC Dirty Bird

January 13th, 2012
7:26 am

Read between the lines. TD doesn’t want to hire a “one-trick pony”. So in two statements TD has said we’re going to “evaluate the running game” and “focus on utilzing the talent”. Wouldn’t you presume that when referring to “the talent” the GM is referring to the Julio Jones and Quizz Rodgers (whom the entire league knows was under-utilized). There appears to be a definitive patter to his statements. “Art of suprise and deception” likely means no more predictable plays a la Mularkey. For example, has anyone read the ESPN piece on Tramon Williams that just ran last night. He basically said that he knew he was going to intercept Matt Ryan’s pass just before halftime last year based on the formation we were in.

Kurtis

January 13th, 2012
7:44 am

I wonder how much will really ever change as long as Coach Smith has final say. We love him, but he’s just too conservative. Hopefully all of this has opened his eyes as well.

SirReal

January 13th, 2012
8:22 am

I think Billick would be a great choice. If anyone’s ever watched the Coaches show in the NFL network, the way he breaks down film of Ryan tells me he’d know what to do with this offense. He’s also called a few of our games and so he is prety familiar with what we do. He’d be an attacking coordinator and someone we know would challenge Smith and not worry about the repercussions. (what would he say? you’re not in the family anymore.LOL) Thats my choice. Either him or some bright young mind no one has really heard of. Sometimes a no name is the best name.

Queensbridge

January 13th, 2012
8:25 am

Smith better open up his eyes or he’ll be opening up his arse for the boot next year because he will be the next one to go should the falcons either not make the playoffs or have another early exit

89viking

January 13th, 2012
8:28 am

still would like to see Musgrave back in the ATL as o.c,,,he knows the league after having played in it, he knows our personnel (obviously)and i think a young upcoming head coach material that knows todays game really well.

SirReal

January 13th, 2012
8:32 am

@89Viking Its not gonna happen. He was cool but how’s that working out for him so far up there?

Mike

January 13th, 2012
8:32 am

The play calling has been far too predictable. Even I knew some of the plays they were going to run before they even ran them based on their formations ie: the Tramon Williams pick was so obvious what they were running.

Cal

January 13th, 2012
8:44 am

Please get a young inavative coordinator who can use multiple people in a offense.

AlanFalcon

January 13th, 2012
8:45 am

MM & BVG were so transparent in their play calling that I could sit back and tell you what was going to take place (Question is, was it Smittys footprint or theirs) either way its got to change and I think Mr. Blank has made that very clear.

ijonathan

January 13th, 2012
9:00 am

Tom Clements was a monster in the CFL.

Durt E Byrd

January 13th, 2012
9:13 am

Sun Tzu also talked about attacking your enemy’s weakness and having the willingness to be ruthless…. not just trickery and deception.

Our offense has done none of the above EXCEPT trick plays and deception.

The Falconator

January 13th, 2012
9:15 am

Note to TD: We don’t care who the new OC is as long as his game planning and play calling is unpredictable and stretches the field using the assets the Falcons have. Loved the (easier for Ryan) midrange pass over the middle to JJ who, then,leaves the defender in the dust. Look around the league. Turner is the past. Quizz and a bruiser who can pound into the line when needed is the future. The game has changed! Hopefully the new DC has heard of blitzing and gets rid of that cursed soft zone. The days of “bend but don’t break” defenses giving up miles of yardage to avoid the big play are history. A pass defender can either play his man or he can’t. Let’s find a few who CAN.

North FLA Falcon

January 13th, 2012
9:17 am

Trade Turner and get a more flexible, multiple formation offense. He is too slow. Quizz could be the next Warrick Dunn if we use him correctly. We have strong tight ends and deep threats with HD, Julio and Roddy … combine this with a backfield that can do screens (yes screens!), slashing runs and a OL that can protect Ryan so we can finally put some points on the board. Looking forward to whomever we choose.

RC

January 13th, 2012
9:27 am

What about Todd Haley?

Jo Clark

January 13th, 2012
9:29 am

Kurtis, Mike Smith not at all a conservative coach! A conservative coach would never go for it on 4th and 1 on his own 30 or on the other opponents 20!!! People stop digging for stuff to complain about! The problem with this team was 100% the offensive coordinator…! When a fan can tell you what play the team is running each snap, then I’m sure the opposing players and coaches can do the same!

SCFalcon

January 13th, 2012
9:31 am

No Brad Childress?

In consistent BloGGer

January 13th, 2012
9:42 am

ActionNAtlanta

January 13th, 2012
9:46 am

Until Smith is gone, this is all a MOOT POINT! Fire the defensive minded head coach that lives in an offensive minded and run world! And take Dimitroff with ya. He’s better off up north with his Bouffant hair!
WAKE UP ARTHUR!!!

Rip

January 13th, 2012
9:49 am

Well it is time to trade Michael Turner for a draft pick or get a free agent quicker RB, drop another rubber armed QB in Chris Redman, drop Sam Baker, Abe and a few others an we will have some Cap room

David

January 13th, 2012
9:51 am

While we are getting reid of people can we get reid of NO PLAY DUNTA

Rip

January 13th, 2012
9:57 am

I would agree with Dunta but he may have 2years remaining on his contract and the way he has played , he has no value in the league unless you sign him to take out the trash

89viking

January 13th, 2012
10:34 am

sir real,,,you see the vikes starting offense? musgrave will be a legit o.c in this league,,,just hope its with us and not another team,,,half of the teams offensive problems is the “O” just has never bought into MM’s strategy,,,they had no faith that in the thick of things, they knew he (MM) would go conservative,,,,,all you have to do is look at when we went to the “no huddle” and Ryan was calling the plays,,,we moved the ball and then when we would get into scoring range and go back to MM calling the plays,,,we would settle for a td or give the ball back up…..4th and less than a yard and you dont even line a rb up in the backfield,,,,please!!!! a 2nd grader knew what was gonna happen on the play!! like i said,,i just believe half the battle is the guys believing in the coach and i just dont thinkthey beieved in MM but that they would musgrave bc he would open it up…whoever we hire just needs to open the throttle and not let up.

ShempHoward

January 13th, 2012
10:36 am

The Falcons should INTERVIEW only two candidates for the OC position. Former Vikings and Arizona Cardinals head coach DENNIS GREEN and former falcon quarterback STEVE BARTKOWSKI. I think either of these guys would more than do an admirable job. Steve has no experience, but he was lights-out on offense as a quarterback and should have easily made the hall of fame. DENNIS IS BETTER QUALIFIED AND ESTABLISHED A POINTS RECORD FOR MOST POINTS EVER SCORED IN A SEASON WHEN THE FALCONS FACED THE VIKINGS IN 1998 IN THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME. In fact the more I think about it, I THINK DENNIS SHOULD REPLACE COACH MIKE SMITH AS HEAD COACH–AND YOU WOULD SOLVE THE PROBLEM OF OC AND HEAD COACH IN ONE SWING.

89viking

January 13th, 2012
10:37 am

watching this offense (even with this o-line we have) reminds me of all the times i am behind the a souped up corvette,mustang,porshe (whatever sports car/truck you wish to put in here) and youre stuck behind it,,,doing 60 mph on the interstae when the speed limit is 70mph and you have no room to pass,,,its just frikkin frustrating…

railman311

January 13th, 2012
10:44 am

Wow some of you act as if the Falcons won 5 Super Bowls before Smitty and TD arrived, They have turned this franchise around for the better. go back to playing Madden

abby normal

January 13th, 2012
10:53 am

As I’ve said before, until the offensive line is fixed, it won’t make much difference who the OC is.

Humbug

January 13th, 2012
10:54 am

The play calling of our now former OC was so predictable that every fan and the opposing team knew what his play would be. He refused to alter his plays. We need a new OC who can make the fans and opposing team only guess what the play would be.

Humbug

January 13th, 2012
10:59 am

The Falcon defensive scheme of letting the pass be completed and then chase the receiver is purely bad. Close coverage is a must.Soft coverage is not effective except for adding to the opposing teams pass yardage.

PaulWinchester

January 13th, 2012
11:00 am

As I said yesterday, Joe Theisman would make the PERFECT COACH for the Falcons for three reasons. #1:he is one the most prolific winner the nfl has ever seen and was coached under one of the top coaches in joe gibbs; #2:as joe has been a tv analyst for a number of years, his insight into football is unsurpassed and is extremely knowledgeable about what it takes to be a winner; #3:joe would be sure to surround himself with only the top-flight talent such as his coaches and personnel and joe wouldnt tolerate anything less than perfection and being the best. JOE THIESMAN SHOULD BE INTERVIEWED AND HIRED TO BE THE NEXT HEAD COACH OF THE ATLANTA FALCONS.

Humbug

January 13th, 2012
11:02 am

Smitty will be okay once he has an OC and a DC to support him.

ppeck50

January 13th, 2012
11:20 am

Quizz is not Warrick Dunn. Dunn was rare. Quizz caught some balls, turned around, got hit by a linebacker and fell backwards to lose a first down. Snelling and others like Gonzalez fall forward. Make quizz a receiver, he has no place in an NFL backfield. Or trade him before he gets hurt. Pound
pound pound the ball, and go to play ation. Eat the clock up. It would be great if TUrner could catch out of the backfield like some other NFL guys…. We are missing that. Love Billick ! When is he starting ?

DawgFence

January 13th, 2012
11:33 am

If the art of surprise and deception are so important then why oh why when in the shotgun, did the offense run the clock down to under 3 seconds before the snap. And why did McClure, with stopwatch precision, look back between his legs at Ryan, then immediately lift his head and snap the ball within a hundreth of a second every time. Was the offensive coordinator thinking that the Defense wouldn’t notice? Or was he not thinking. Nothing like surprising and deceiving yourself.

Caleb

January 13th, 2012
11:39 am

My late Christmas wish. PLEASE PLEASE take Mike Bobo into consideration for the OC job. The Georgia Bulldogs fans do not want him anymore.

Aundray Bruce

January 13th, 2012
11:50 am

I can still play, sign me!

ChiFalcon

January 13th, 2012
11:58 am

Can Mike Bobo’s name please stop finding its way into these discussions?

falconfiend

January 13th, 2012
12:02 pm

I say good luck to Coach Mike and Coach Van Gorder. I thought last year cleveland should have hire Mularkey. Mularkey is more of a head coach rather than off cordinator just like Coach W. phillips is more of a D. coordinator than head coach. We all know Van Gorder is Defensive minded Coach and He was a great Coach at Georgia Good Luck.

The good-bad-ugly

January 13th, 2012
12:03 pm

Bruce Arian Steelers OC would be great for Falcons are maybe Greg Roman.
Billick would be my #1 Clements would also be in my top 4.

For REAL!

January 13th, 2012
12:08 pm

@ ppeck50 Did you watch a game this season Quizz stood linebackers up he hurt cornerbacks and last time I checked he got the first down at Detroit to secure the game when the play was broken and he should have lost a yard. Great evualuation their guy!

falconfiend

January 13th, 2012
12:10 pm

If. falcons want that continued run game then some explosiveness will be taken away. Got a realize that run orientated offenses are bland and try to get down the field methodically rather than explosively. Falcons were inconsistent because not enoufgh balance to which way they were going. Inconsitencies start with the coaches and the players try to follow the method. The falcons coaching staff should be proud that they have players with high moral standards who dont fight with coaches and try to run the plays. Coaching staff was inconsistent and thats were the yo yo mentality came from.

P B Orr

January 13th, 2012
12:18 pm

Forget the coordinators – the Falcons need a new cheerleader – Samuel L Jackson is not working out – instead of Jules, we need Wolf. “Coach Smith, go make some coffee. We don’t have all day!”

PlanB

January 13th, 2012
12:43 pm

Dunta might be a good CB playing man coverage. He is not the first one I would get rid of.

beone

January 13th, 2012
1:16 pm

And what does this sentence mean? “The new offensive coordinator will be charged with evaluating the offense into a high-scoring machine on par with the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints.” If we could evaluate it into a better offense, that would be easy!!!

Great Falconi

January 13th, 2012
1:20 pm

Dimitroff wants our offense and defense to put together gameplans that consistently challenge the opposition. All fans want that, too. There are very few teams in this league that can run vanilla schemes and beat people with only physical talent and ability.

SirReal

January 13th, 2012
1:30 pm

@89Viking No, I agree.LOL Thats what I mean. Look at the offense they are running. Aside from players giving up in the 2nd half, his offense looked pretty good and they were in games. Just with that said, I dont see him coming back to us. MIN isnt gonna want to let him go that easily. We can forget it. To me HE was the instrumental one behind Ryan’s development and is WELL respected throughout the league. I dont know if the Ponder kid’s gonna work out but at least we know his offense will.

#1 Falcons fan

January 13th, 2012
1:41 pm

This may not be the correct forum to raise this, but can someone please tell me if I am losing my mind. I do not remember the games but on 3 different occasions this season I remember seeing the Defense Captain on our opponents team repeating Matt Ryans call when he checked out of a play in the No-Huddle offense. Usually this is no big deal but on all 3 occasions we were either sacked for a loss, hit instantly on the run or intercepted on the pass. I swear this is true, I watched it 10-15 times on the DVR. The only one I remember specifically I think was against the Giants. We were in a No Huddle and Matt Ryan called “Miller”, “Miller” while holding his hand up acting like he was drinking something. One of the LB’s on the Giants Defense leaned over to hear what was called and repeated to the rest of the Defense “Miller”, Miller”. Is there any possibility that some Defenses could figure out our play’s? I would think its impossible as I am sure Miller means many different plays depending on teh quarter, the down, or maybe even the score, or hand gestures used when calling the play. But this seems way too odd when we see the Defense leaning over to hear what Matt is calling and bam hitting us hard on the exact play. I know it could just be coincidence as we got hit hard many plays against the Giants, Saints, Packers and many other teams. But I think this warrants at least a little investigation and possibly a change in the way we do this.

Thoughts?? Go Falcons. I think we CAN and WILL be a great team for many years to come if our coaching staff can figure out how to use the All Star QB, 2 x RB (I think Snelling is as good as or better than Turner), TE, 2x WR’s, 2x DE’s, etc.

Mike Fr

January 13th, 2012
1:50 pm

Wow … Why are there people acting as if we are a tradition team like the packers who have a winning tradition ? .. Last time I checked, we are almost the opposite (sad but true). So, I don’t understand why there are some “fans” saying: “get rid of Smitty and TD.. get rid of Ryan” … They have done nothing but to bring us the 4 finest CONSECUTIVE seasons this franchise has ever had.

I do not live in the states, and when I tell people I’m a falcon fan, they say: what? … We have never been media darlings or a popular team because we have never had the consistency to be so.. up until now. So, in TD and Smitty we believe!

ShempHoward

January 13th, 2012
1:56 pm

Mike Smith has become the “Bobby Cox” of football. So what, mike smith has averaged 10 wins in four years. What does that get the falcon fans? higher ticket prices and failed expectations coupled with BLOWOUTS in the playoffs. MY FRIENDS, THAT IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH AND THE FANS SHOULD BOYCOTT THE GAMES NEXT YEAR AND REFUSE TO GO TO THE GAMES UNTIL THERE IS A DECENT PRODUCT ON THE FIELD THAT CAN CONTEND FOR A SUPERBOWL. I FEEL AS A FAN, THAT I HAVE BEEN RIPPED OFF AS A SEASON TICKET HOLDER. I WILL BURN MY SEASON TICKETS TO ASHES THE NEXT CHANCE I GET. I am tired of Smiths (smitty’s) double-talk and saying one thing and doing something entirely different. I WANT SATISFACTION AND I WANT THE FALCONS TO WIN THE SUPERBOWL AND BE FITTED FOR SUPERBOWL RINGS. I want a victory parade down peachtree street. IS THAT ASKING TOO MUCH?