Predicting the next Falcons coach

If the coaching search in 2004 is used as a blueprint for the one in 2007, then it probably means by the end of next week we shall see a second round of interviews being granted to Blank & McKay’s finalists. I suspect we may see the Falcons interview a few more candidates such as Norm Chow, Mike Tomlin, Mike Sherman, Russ Grimm, and/or Jim Caldwell sometime next week, but if you ask me all are longshots anyway. Frankly, I think it will come down to quartet that has been scheduled to interview thus far: Ken Whisenhunt, Ron Rivera, Malcolm “Cam” Cameron, and Mike Singletary.

I think Rivera and Cameron are at a loss due to the fact their teams are in the playoffs, and thus will not be able to interview a second time until their respective teams are ousted from the postseason. Whisenhunt at this point seems unlikely due to the “retirement/resignation” of Bill Cowher in Pittsburgh. I’d assume he’s a (or the) frontrunner there. That leaves only Mr. Singletary, who at this juncture I would predict is the most likely to become the next Falcons head coach.

Is that a good hire? You be the judge. I don’t have a problem with hiring Singletary per se. I’d be wary of his lack of experience. But almost every human being that knows a bit about football greatly respects him. And from all indications, all his players respect him as a coach, but the question is how much of that is carry-over from his playing days? He’s only coached 4 years, which would make him probably the fastest person in NFL history to ascend to head coaching. The 49ers’ defenses the past two years have been pretty bad on paper, but their run defenses have been relatively solid, and their linebackers have been their strength the past few years, which is the area where Singletary logs the most time.

Frankly, the hiring of any coach is made or broken by who they assign as their coordinators. Mora hired Knapp, see where it landed him. Shell with Walsh. While Schottenheimer hired Cameron and Fisher’s hiring of Chow probably have saved or prolonged their jobs. So regardless of who is the head coach for the Falcons in 2007, I’m just as curious (and more curious in a few cases) of who the offensive and defensive coordinators will be. The issue with Singletary is that because of his limited tenure in the league, his number of coaching connections are pretty small. So would he purge the Ravens or 49ers coaching staff for assistants. Would he be more likely to keep current Falcons assistants? Would he dip back into his old Bears playing days and hire his former coaches or teammates? These are unanswered questions, but I have a gut feeling that within a week or two they will be answered.

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Aaron Freeman
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