Stephen F. Holder of the St. Petersburg Times reports that former Buffalo Bills head coach and Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey is considering taking a position with the Atlanta Falcons as offensive coordinator. It was reported earlier by ESPN on Wednesday that Mularkey would likely be a candidate in Atlanta. According to Holder, Mularkey is expected to choose between the Falcons job or taking the quarterback coach position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Mularkey’s most recent coaching experience came as the Dolphins tight ends coach this past year. In 2006, he served as the team’s offensive coordinator. Prior to that he served two seasons as the Buffalo Bills head coach, compiling a 14-18 record. Before that, he was the offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers for three seasons. Before being promoted to offensive coordinator in 2001, he spent five years as the Steelers tight ends coach. His first gig in the NFL came in 1994 as an assistant on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff before taking over tight ends in 1995. His first coaching job was with Concordia College in 1993.
Mularkey was a 9th round pick out of Florida in 1983, selected by the San Francisco 49ers. He played six seasons with the Minnesota Vikings (1983-88) and three with the Steelers (1989-91). As a tight end, he finished his career with 102 receptions, 1222 yards, and 9 touchdowns.
He is a Florida native, having been born in Fort Lauderdale and playing high school ball in the area. His roots in Florida would likely make the Buccaneers job more attractive, although he’d hold considerably more clout in Atlanta.
ESPN reports that leagues sources have indicated that the Falcons have chosen Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Smith as the person to become the sixteenth coach in franchise history. Previous reports indicated that the Falcons may have have been willing to wait until after the Super Bowl to make this decision. Smith was considered one of the four finalists for the position as well.
ESPN indicates that the Falcons had narrowed down their choices even further, with Smith coming out on top and Leslie Frazier being considered the second best candidate. Per ESPN, Smith “won over the Falcons with his combination of intelligence, communication and organizational skills, and strong knowledge of personnel. Most important, the team believes Smith to be the most professionally compatible with [Falcons GM Thomas] Dimitroff.”
According to ESPN, the Falcons opted not to wait another week for fear that Steve Spagnuolo would spurn their advances and the new coach’s ability to assemble a staff would be diminished.
The AP reports that the team is currently engaged in contract talks with Smith and that a press conference is possibly set for tomorrow.
UPDATE: The hiring of Smith is now official. The AJC is reporting that Smith is believed to have agreed to a four-year deal worth between $8 and $10 million.
Despite several other assistants that have interviewed or already accepted jobs elsewhere, including the most recent ones in Ollie Wilson and Evan Marcus, the Falcons seem poised to keep one assistant coach in Atlanta. Rick Herrin of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram reports that the Falcons have denied the Dallas Cowboys permission to former interim head coach and defensive backs coach Emmitt Thomas from interviewing there. Thomas was named interim head coach following the retirement of Bobby Petrino for the final three games this past season. Thomas first came to Atlanta in 2002, when the team also hired then defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, now the head coach in Dallas. Thomas would likely to be targeted to replace Todd Bowles, who recently joined the Miami Dolphins, as the Cowboys defensive backs coach. It would seem the Falcons are prepared to keep Thomas in Atlanta on new head coach Mike Smith’s staff.
SI.com’s Jim Trotter reports that the San Diego Chargers are on the verge of hiring Falcons running back coach Ollie Wilson. Wilson has previous ties to the Chargers organization, working as an assistant from 1997 to 2001. He joined the Falcons in 2002, his second stint with the team after serving in the same capacity from 1991 to 1996.
D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that Falcons new general manager Thomas Dimitroff has narrowed down the coaching search to four candidates. Among them is New York Giants defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo who has yet to interview with the team. Any interview involving Spagnuolo will have to wait until after the Giants season concludes after the Super Bowl on February 3. Filling out of the list are three defensive coordinators that interviewed last week: Rex Ryan, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, Mike Smith of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Leslie Frazier of the Minnesota Vikings. Both Ryan and Smith have interviewed twice for the job, while Frazier sat for his first interview this past Saturday.
Ryan remains hopeful that he receives the Falcons position per the AJC, but in the mean time is considered to be candidates to remain in Baltimore as the defensive coordinator under new coach Jim Harbaugh, and also as a potential candidate to hold the same position in Washington with the Redskins according to NFL.com’s Adam Schefter.
In other coaching-related news, the Miami Dolphins announced Tuesday that Falcons strength and conditioning coach Evan Marcus will be joining their staff in the same capacity. Marcus only served one season with the Falcons in the capacity. He is one of several assistants under former head coach Bobby Petrino to successfully find jobs elsewhere.
Jay Adams of the Macon Telegraph writing on his Pro Schmo Blog reports on rumors that the Falcons have brought Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier with them to Mobile, AL for Senior Bowl practices. Frazier interviewed with the Falcons on Saturday for their head coach position. So far, this seems to be only a rumor since there has apparently been no actual sight of Frazier with Falcons officials, just unconfirmed rumors from various sources.
ESPN reports that the Falcons are not expected to make a decision about their head coaching position until they get a chance to interview New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Unfortunately, league rules prohibit the Falcons from interviewing Spagnuolo until after the Super Bowl, which the Giants will face off against the New England Patriots on February 3.
The Falcons requested permission from the Giants to interview Spagnuolo two weeks ago, but were denied by the Giants. League rules permit teams to interview coaching candidates during the bye week before the Super Bowl only if it is the second instance of one. If the Falcons have focused completely on Spagnuolo or will interview other candidates in the mean time is unknown. Also unknown, is how much interest Spagnuolo has in the Atlanta Falcons.
The Falcons have been in the process of acquiring a new head coach ever since Bobby Petrino resigned on December 11. They have interviewed and shown interest in a plethora of candidates. Here, we’ll detail who the Falcons have looked at in their desire to find a new head coach.
Jan. 3: Jim Caldwell, Colts Asst. Head Coach/Quarterbacks (bio) (story)
Jan. 4: Jason Garrett, Cowboys Off. Coordinator (bio) (story)
Jan. 4: Tony Sparano, Cowboys Asst. Head Coach/Off. Line (bio) (story)
Jan. 7: Rex Ryan, Ravens Def. Coordinator (bio) (story)
Jan. 9: *Pete Carroll, USC Head Coach (bio) (story)
Jan. 10: Mike Smith, Jaguars Def. Coordinator (bio) (story)
Jan. 11: Jim Schwartz, Titans Def. Coordinator (bio) (story)
Jan. 14: Rex Ryan (story)
Jan. 16: Jason Garrett (story)
Jan. 18: Mike Smith (story)
Jan. 19: Leslie Frazier (bio) (story)
* – Interview reportedly consisted of a cordial phone conversation with Falcons owner Arthur Blank
Steve Spagnuolo, Giants Def. Coordinator (bio) (story)
Jim Haslett, Rams Def. Coordinator (bio) (story)
Winston Moss, Packers Asst. Head Coach (bio) (story)
Dante Scarnecchia, Patriots Asst. Head Cach/Off. Line (bio) (story)
Marty Schottenheimer, ex-Chargers Head Coach (bio) (story)
Mike Shanahan, Broncos Head Coach (bio) (story)
Jim Caldwell (story)
Bill Cowher, ex-Steelers Head Coach (bio) (story)
Jason Garrett (story)
Josh McDaniels, Patriots Off. Coordinator (bio) (story)
Mike Singletary, 49ers Asst. Head Coach/Defense (bio) (story)
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that the Falcons will interview Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier on Saturday. Reportedly Frazier wowed Bill Parcells in his January 7 interview for the Dolphins head coaching position.
Frazier is coming off his first year as the Vikings defensive coordinator, following two seasons with the Indianapolis Colts as a special assistant to head coach Tony Dungy. He also worked with the team’s defensive backs. Prior to that he worked as defensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals (2003-04) and defensive backs coach of the Philadelphia Eagles (1999-02). He served as head coach at Trinity College (now known as Trinity International University), NAIA program, for 9 seasons. That was his first coaching job in 1988. He also worked as defensive backs coach at Illinois for two years as well (1997-98) following his days at Trinity. Frazier played six years in the NFL for the Chicago Bears, earning a Super Bowl ring in 1985. In 65 career games, he had 20 interceptions and scored twice on punt returns.
Mortensen also reported that Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Smith interviewed with the Falcons for a second time on Friday.
ESPN reports that Falcons offensive coordinator Hue Jackson has interviewed for the same position with the St. Louis Rams. Jackson is one of two candidates to formally meet with Rams head coach Scott Linehan about the open position. Cincinnati Bengals quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese has also interviewed. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Rams are expected to interview more potential candidates next week.
Jackson was in his first and potentially only year with the Falcons as offensive coordinator. When head coach Bobby Petrino resigned unexpectedly in December, Jackson took over play-calling duties under interim head coach Emmitt Thomas. Earlier this month, the Falcons informed all of their assistants, currently under contract, that they are welcome to seek other positions around the league as they try and resolve their own coaching situation. Earlier this week, Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer took the same position with the Cincinnati Bengals.
In December, Jackson interviewed for the head coaching vacancy at Duke University, but did not get the job.