Falcons 50: Greatest Atlanta Falcons Coaches #5


Today, we continue our Falcons 50 countdown with a brand new mini-series created by Ryan Robertson. Over the next five days, he will be counting down the Atlanta Falcons’ top five coaches.

You can find the full list of Falcons 50 posts here.

As we continue along with our countdown to Opening Day of the 2015 Falcons season, we are going to take a look at the top five greatest Falcons coaches of all time. As a whole, the Atlanta Falcons franchise has seen it’s fair share of losing seasons.

By now we all know that, until Coach Smith, the Falcons have never had back-to-back winning seasons. However, this does not mean they have not had any good coaches. Coming in at number five on our list is Norm Van Brocklin.

Before becoming a head coach for the Minnesota Vikings and our Atlanta Falcons, Brocklin was an all-pro quarterback and punter for the Los Angeles Rams in the 1950s. He led the Rams to the 1951 NFL Championship over Cleveland and was responsible for the game winning touchdown.

In the opening game of the 1952 season, Norm Van Brocklin would set the NFL record for passing yards in a game with 554, a record that still stands to this day. He would be selected to the Pro Bowl on nine occasions and led he NFL in passing three times. He also led the league in punting twice.

After his tenure in Los Angeles, Norm Van Brocklin was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles, where he spent the rest of his professional playing career. He led them to a victory in the 1960 NFL Championship Game over Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers, marking the only time Lombardi would lose in a playoff game as head coach of the Packers.

Less than a month after his second retirement, Van Brocklin accepted the head coaching job for the Minnesota Vikings. During six years there, he compiled a 29-51-4 record as head coach before becoming the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.

More from Blogging Dirty

Norm Van Brocklin became the Falcons coach four games into the 1968 season. It was a rough going early on for Brocklin, as the Falcons failed to post winning records in his first three seasons. However, they broke through in 1971 as the Falcons finished 7-6-1 and recorded the first winning record in team history.

During the 1973 season, Van Brocklin would lead Atlanta to a 9-5 record, just narrowly missing out on the team’s first playoff berth. It would go on to snowball from there for Van Brocklin; he started the 1974 season 2-6 and was thusly fired.

In his seven seasons as Atlanta Falcons head coach, Norm Van Brocklin would finish with a 37-49-3 record. This would be his last head coaching gig, but his overall impact on the game was recognized throughout football. He was inducted into both the College Football and NFL Hall of Fame and he had a storied playing career as well.

Although he had a losing record as Falcons head coach, I still felt it was noteworthy to lead Atlanta to their first winning season in team history, and that is why I put him at number five on our head coaching countdown.

Van Brocklin definitely made an impact on the game of football, as well as our Falcons and every other team he was a part of. Tune in tomorrow as we unveil the number four greatest Falcons coach of all time.