The pain was deep and ugly from the 3rd playoff loss in 4 years and the second consecutive playoff embarrassment. Last year’s destruction involved the Falcons not stopping anyone. This year’s blowout involved the Falcons being unable to score any offensive points. Fans were worrying if any or enough changes would be made after the process, including the same coaching staff, had obviously reached its zenith.
Some felt that only one coordinator would go or that the organization and Arthur Blank would feel that a few small changes would fix what ailed the Falcons. That certainly has turned out not to be the case so far. No more than 24 hours after the Falcons were pummeled by the Giants, defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder was bolting for Auburn and Mike Mularkey was headed to be Jacksonville’s new head coach.
We can debate for ages on the logistics of how it unfolded, but it’s at least safe to say that, given the speed of the moves, something had to be known about the new direction of the franchise. Regardless of the “when” or “how,” the Falcons are looking for two new coordinators. A look at some potential candidates on both sides of the ball……….
This is perhaps the biggest name out there, but it seems almost a given that Martz is a very long shot to join the Falcons organization. The negatives are numerous and valid. He has too much baggage. His ego is too large. He will get Matt Ryan killed with his inability to adjust to a less-than-stellar offensive line, as he did in Chicago. He is past his prime with unproductive stops in San Francisco and Chicago. These are all very true and legit, but he’s still the most intriguing candidate out there.
When he had a smart and accurate quarterback (Kurt Warner), a plethora of weapons at wide receiver (Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Az-Zahir Hakim), an excellent running back (Marshall Faulk), he orchestrated “The Greatest Show on Turf,” which is considered one of the best offense units in NFL history. In fact, the Rams from 1999 thru 2001 were the only team in NFL history to score 500+ points in 3 consecutive seasons. Yes, it’s been over a decade ago, but he never had the weapons in San Francisco and Chicago that he could have here.
Thanks to our Bird Cage buddy Seminole Warrior, Mike Sherman has become a very prevalent and extremely intriguing name as a potential offensive coordinator here in Atlanta. Sherman is most well-known for his West Coast Offense when he was head coach at Green Bay and helped push Brett Favre to some of his best years as a quarterback, while also compiling a 57-39 regular season record. His 2-4 postseason record and a 4-12 season in 2005 led to his surprise firing.
Despite his excellent years in Green Bay, he was the Houston Texans offensive coordinator in 2007 and led that team to be pretty middle of the road (14th in total offense) before becoming the head coach of Texas A&M. After producing some pretty good offenses, he was fired from Texas A&M in early December. He has also been linked with the Tampa Bay head coaching position vacancy as well. Like Martz, it’s been quite awhile since his major success in the NFL.
Smith’s brother-in-law is also a long shot here, as Billick likely wouldn’t give up his announcer job to come back as a coordinator. He’s talked about being interested in a head coaching job again, but it seems not many teams are interested. He was known for his excellent offenses in Minnesota when he was the Vikings coordinator, but won a Super Bowl with one of the best defenses in NFL history. Ultimately, he got fired because he could never recreate the same magic in Baltimore that he had in Minnesota.
He would bring a fire and attitude to an offense desperately in need of one, but he hasn’t even coached in several years, much less had success. But then again he would be getting Matt Ryan at quarterback. His quarterbacks while in Baltimore were as follows: Tony Banks, Trent Dilfer, Elvis Grbac, Jeff Blake, Randall Cunningham, Kyle Boller, and Steve McNair.
He’s one of the candidates the Falcons are reportedly interested in talking to, according to Jason La Confora of NFL Network. Clements is most well-known for being the quarterbacks coach of the Green Bay Packers since 2006. During that time he has helped Brett Favre to one of his best seasons in his career (2007) and of course the emergence of Aaron Rodgers as arguably the best quarterback in the league, not to mention their Super Bowl Championship run last year and going 15-1 this year. Many believe he could not only bring much of the Packers high-octane offense to Atlanta, but most importantly help take Matt Ryan to the next level.
Clements was also offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills in 2004 and 2005. In 2004, the Bills ranked 25th in total offense, 27th in yards passing, 13th in rushing, and 7th in points per game. In 2005, the Bills ranked 28th in total offense, 29th in passing, 20th in rushing, and 24th in points per game. Even though not gaudy numbers, Clements helped direct the Bills to a 9-7 mark in 2004 (no small feat in Buffalo) with Drew Bledsoe, but had Kelly Holcomb and JP Losman to work with in 2005. Although there’s never any certainty in trying to poach assistants off successful teams, Clements seems to one of the most logical choices out there.
He hasn’t been mentioned as the Falcons having any interest in him, but he has resurfaced as interested to the Bucs in their head coaching vacancy. Childress has a very impressive resume working both in college and the NFL. He got his break as a head coach after his successful stint as the Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator. In his three years as the Eagles offensive coordinator, not too many stats stand out. In 2004, the Eagles ranked 9th in total offense, 7th in passing, 24th in rushing, and 8th in points per game. He did help navigate the Eagles to their only Super Bowl berth in recent memory, where they narrowly lost to the Patriots.
He was hired as the Vikings head coach in 2006 and led the Vikings to playoff trips in 2008 and 2009. They went 12-4 in 2009 and made it to the NFC Championship and were potentially a Brett Favre interception away from making the Super Bowl. Who knows how much influence he had on the offense, but he led his teams to playoff wins in his tenure in Philadelphia and Minnesota. \
The former Jets offensive coordinator has been mentioned as one of the candidates the Falcons may be interested in, according to the same report. This one doesn’t make very much sense, to be honest. Joe Theismann was quoted on 680 The Fan as saying he would be good fit and that evidently created some buzz here in Atlanta. He was just fired in New York after a trainwreck of a season where his former QB, Mark Sanchez, is even being questioned as the franchise player many believed he was since being drafted.
Theismann said that since he would have Matt Ryan, then he could really open up his offense. That’s a gigantic leap and many Jets fans were all too happy to get rid of him. Some also feel is not very good at making in-game adjustments, which is what Falcons fans have experienced for the last 4 years. He did help lead the Jets to two consecutive AFC Championship games, so it’s hard to completely disqualify him, some believe. Most attribute that to a superior defense and excellent run game, though.
This one makes the least sense of any candidate available. His offense last year was one of the worst in the NFL while he was offensive coordinator in Jacksonville. His Jaguars were ranked dead last in total offense and passing yards. The Jaguars were 12th in rushing, but were 28th in points per game. Some will say that was a product of having a rookie quarterback and a team in turmoil. That excuse doesn’t pass the smell test when Denver is in the divisional playoff round with Tim Tebow, along with the Houston Texans winning in the playoffs with their 3rd string quarterback. He’s of course on the list for his familiarity with Coach Smith. Isn’t that the exact thing the Falcons need to get away from?
Reports are coming in that Mike Mularkey has hired the Falcons quarterbacks coach Bob Bratkowski as the Jaguars next offensive coordinator. That eliminates one of the biggest names some thought would get the nod in-house. There’s still a chance of wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie getting a look, but Arthur Blank’s quotes on “wanting a new perspective,” seem to go against this idea, which probably wouldn’t spur progress anyway.
Time to jump in and discuss the coordinator candidates…………………
Defensive Coordinator Preview to Come Soon