The end of the regular season in the NFL brings about an immediate coaching carousel. With the passing of black Monday, the next step is assistant coaches leaving one gig for another in an attempt to advance their careers.
One such instance has been the situation involving long-time Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong. It is being reported that the New York Jets are looking to poach the Trenton, New Jersey native from the Falcons’ coaching staff in an attempt to make him their special teams coach.
The Jets tried this last season as well. Todd Bowles, the team’s head coach, used to be Armstrong’s college roommate, when the two played football together at Temple. Atlanta blocked the Jets’ attempt at hiring Armstrong last year, and look poised to do the same thing again.
While there is certainly interest on the Jets’ part (they just fired special teams coach Bobby April, after just one season), Kimberly A. Martin at Newsday is reporting that the Falcons aren’t expected to allow Armstrong to make a “lateral move” to the Jets’ coaching staff.
Keith Armstrong still has two years left on his contract with the Atlanta Falcons.
The interest for Armstrong is certainly warranted. He has 22 years of coaching experience, and the Atlanta Falcons’ special teams have been exceptional with the Temple grad at the helm.
This past season, the Falcons ranked 6th overall in Gross punting average, 4th in kickoff return average, and also ranked in the top half in punt yard return average and average yards per punt (ranking 11th and 12th respectively).
All of that with star return man Devin Hester missing the first 13 weeks of the season due to a turf toe injury.
Coming into this season, the Falcons have ranked in the NFL’s top five in allowed yards per punt return (7.7), and average yards per kickoff return (24.3), since Armstrong took over the special teams unit in 2008. Atlanta’s special teams unit has consistently been one of the league’s top 10 best under Armstrong, even during the 4-win 2013 season and the 6-win 2014 season.
Losing Keith Armstrong would be a significant blow to the Atlanta Falcons in one of the three phases of the game of football. But as of right now, that doesn’t look like it’ll happen.