The beginning of this season saw the Atlanta Falcons being chosen by many football analysts to be one of the few front runners to represent the NFC in this years Super Bowl. Many believed that the Falcons, with Matt Ryan and his bevy of weapons, and the offensive game planning of Mike Mularkey who was considered as one of the best coordinators in the league, would be able to score almost at will. But as Falcons fans saw throughout the season, this was just not the case.
And now that the season ended in such deplorable fashion, many people were wondering what moves if any were going to be made. The two biggest moves that people began talking about were the Offensive and Defensive coordinator positions. Almost immediately after the Falcons lost to the Giants in the first round of the playoffs, defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder left the Falcons and took the same position for the Auburn Tigers. As a Falcons fan, I was never impressed with the work Van Gorder did with our defense. In his four years as Coordinator, he never had that great of a pass defense which is a necessity in the league today with almost everyone throwing the ball 30-40 times a game. Losing Van Gorder to the college ranks is not a big issue to me because I believe there are much better candidates out there that can do a better job. As of the last few days, a couple of names have shot to the top of the list as possible replacements for Van Gorder. The top two candidates that have been named are Mike Nolan and Steve Spagnuolo.Both of these guys would be a great asset to the Falcons as both of had success in the NFL. Nolan is the son of Dick Nolan, one of the greatest coaches of all time, and has plenty of great seasons as a defensive coordinator under his belt. Spagnuolo has an aggressive defensive style that I believe the Falcons lacked while under Van Gorder.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Falcons are going to need to find someone that can enhance the talents of Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Julio Jones and the other offensive weapons we have. In my mind, with all these weapons, the Falcons should have been in the top 5 if not higher in just about every offensive category there is. There is no reason that the Falcons should have scored less than 20 points in every game this year. But unfortunately they did score less than 20 in five games. Even if Mularkey didn’t take the Jaguars job, there was still a chance that he could have been fired.
As for his replacements, there have been a few names that have catapulted to the top of the list. The top four candidates are Brian Billick, Tom Clements, Dirk Koetter, and Brian Schottenheimer. Each of these candidates can bring the Falcons a wealth of valuable knowledge and experience to a rather young team.
The first candidate is Brian Billick. Many believe he is the front runner because he is related to Coach Smith. But his is also a valid choice because of his history. He has coached many of the top offenses in his day and he also brings post season experience and success that can really help Matt Ryan and his many weapons.
Tom Clements is another good choice to replace Mularkey. Clements also brings playoff success with him as he his currently the Packers QB coach and has been for several years. I believe that he would be a great addition because he has helped Aaron Rodgers to become one of the best QB’s in the league. If he can do the same for Matty Ice, then the Falcons would be dumb not to hire him.
The next candidate is Dirk Koetter who also is a close friend to Coach Smith from his Jacksonville days. Koetter was the Offensive Coordinator for Jacksonville for the last four years. However, I don’t feel that he would be a good fit because during his time in Jacksonville, he never had a top tier offensive season.
The final candidate that I want to discuss is Brian Schottenheimer. Schottenheimer is the son of legendary head coach Marty Schottenheimer. Brian has been the Offensive Coordinator for the Jets for the past six seasons and could also bring valuable post season experience to the Falcons as well as an offensive pedigree that not many possess.
In my mind anyone of these men could be a great hirer for the Falcons, but I believe that Clements would be the best fit for the offensive side and either Nolan or Spagnuolo on the defensive side.