‘Spags’ now in Falcons’ crosshairs

Newsday’s Bob Glauber reported that New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo would interview for the Falcons head coaching position on Friday of this week, but a report by Mike Garafolo of the Star Ledger indicates that the Giants have denied the Falcons request to interview Spagnuolo. According to Garafolo’s report, this denial is temporary as the Giants would grant permission to interview him upon them being eliminated in the playoffs. The Giants are set to face the favored Dallas Cowboys this weekend.

Garafolo also indicates that Spagnuolo and Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett sit atop the team’s wish list as far as head coaching candidates go. Previous reports have indicated that the team prefers Jim Caldwell and Mike Singletary. Considering that either the Giants or Cowboys will advance to the conference championship game, Garafolo writes that could delay the hiring process as the team waits for that person’s availability for another interview.

The Falcons interviewed Chris Mara of the Giants today for their general manager position. If Mara is hired, Spagnuolo would likely be a favored option due to his familiarity within the Giants organization. Spagnuolo also worked as an assistant for eight years with the Philadelphia Eagles, most recently as a linebackers coach. That would also make him familiar to prospective GM candidate Tom Heckert as well. Heckert interviewed for the position on Monday, but left without a contract offer, although Ashley Fox of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that there could be one by the end of the week. Fox cites a league source that indicates the Falcons GM search could be coming to a close by the end of this week.

Spagnuolo joined the Eagles in 1999 as a defensive assistant, before being promoted to defensive backs coach in 2001. He moved to coach linebackers in 2004. Prior to that, his only NFL coaching experience came in 1983 as a player personnel intern with the Washington Redskins and as a scout with the San Diego Chargers in 1993. He worked as defensive coordinator of the Frankfurt Galaxy in 1998 and as a defensive line and special teams coach with the Barcelona Dragons in 1992. Other than that, his coaching experience is all on the college ranks, working at UMass (1982-83), Lafayette (1984-86), Connecticut (1987-91), Maine (1993-94), Rutgers (1994-95), and Bowling Green (1996-97).

Along with interviewing Mara on Tuesday, the Falcons also interviewed another prospective GM candidate in Jacksonville Jaguars director of college scouting Gene Smith according to the AJC. Smith has served as the Jaguars director of college scouting since 2000. He originally joined the Jags front office in 1994 as an area scout. Prior to his work in Jacksonville, he was an assistant coach at Ohio University (1986-88) and Edinboro University (1989-94), a Division II school.

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Aaron Freeman
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