Alex Marvez of FOX Sports tweets that Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong is set to interview for head coaching vacancies with the Kansas City Chiefs and Chicago Bears. Armstrong joined the Falcons in 2008 after seven seasons coaching the special teams of the Miami Dolphins. He also coached with the Bears for four years (1997-00) prior to his stint with the Dolphins.
Football Outsiders rates special teams play with their DVOA metric. Twice since joining the Falcons (2008 and 2010) Armstrong’s special teams units were graded among the Top 10. This past year, they finished 13th.
Alex Marvez of FOX Sports reports that Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has three interviews lined up this week, while the Falcons have a first round bye in the playoffs. Koetter is set to interview for the vacant head coaching positions with the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, and Philadelphia Eagles. According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, Koetter will interview tomorrow with the Chiefs.
Koetter joined the Falcons last January, as a replacement for Mike Mularkey who left to become the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The 2012 Falcons offense ranked 7th in scoring and 8th in total yards. The Falcons were led by their passing attack, which ranked 6th in the league in passing yards.
Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that according to a source, the Cleveland Browns have already contacted Falcons Director of Player Personnel David Caldwell about the now vacant general manager position, following the dismissal of Tom Heckert. Caldwell’s name has been mentioned in connection to a number of potential front office vacancies around the league. Steve Wyche of NFL.com indicates that Caldwell’s potential popularity stems from the Falcons on-field and off-field success under GM Thomas Dimitroff. Per Wyche, down the road current Falcons Associate Director of Player Personnel Lionel Vital and Director of Football Administration Nick Polk could also be sought-after GM candidates.
Cabot also mentions that Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is a candidate to take over the head coaching spot in Cleveland, after the team dismissed Pat Shurmur today as well.
Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports reported on Sunday that after the University of Kentucky fired its head coach Joker Phillips, that according to sources Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter was among several candidates on the short list by UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart to take over the gig.
Koetter joined the Falcons this year after five seasons as the offensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has been a college head coach before, with stints at Arizona State (2001-06) and Boise State (1998-00). During his nine seasons as a college head coach, he compiled a 66-44 record, including a 3-2 bowl record.
Fellow candidates per Forde include former University of Tennessee head coach Phil Fulmer, Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes, University of Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease, Texas Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown, and Western Kentucky head coach Willie Taggart.
The team announced yesterday that they have completed their coaching staff by promoting offensive assistant Glenn Thomas to quarterbacks coach, and hired Joe Danna as defensive backs coach. Thomas spent the past four seasons with the team as their offensive assistant. The team hired Andrew Weidinger to replace him in that role. Danna was previously on the Falcons staff as a defensive assistant from 2008-09 before going to the Miami Dolphins, where he worked under new Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan as the assistant defensive backs coach. Weidinger spent the past four years with the Falcons as an administrative assistant to Mike Smith, after joining the team in 2007 as a scout.
Thomas replaces Bob Bratkowski, who moved onto Jacksonville alongside former offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey. Thomas joined the Falcons in 2008 after seven seasons as an assistant at Division II school Midwestern State. For the final four years he served as that team’s offensive coordinator, after working with wide receivers his first three years.
Danna takes over for Alvin Reynolds, and will team with Tim Lewis to try and improve the Falcons secondary.Danna was a college assistant before joining the Falcons, coaching defensive backs at James Madison (2007) and under former Falcons defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder at Georgia Southern (2006). Prior to that he spent four years as an assistant at Central Michigan, where he coached wide receivers, safeties, and worked as an assistant on special teams. Danna helped improve the Dolphins secondary in 2010, which improved from 24th ranked against the pass in 2009 to 8th ranked a year later.
Prior to joining the Falcons in 2007, Weidinger spent several years in various positions at the University of Arizona.
The Falcons announced the hiring of Pat Hill as the team’s new offensive line coach yesterday. Hill will replace the departed Paul Boudreau, whose contract was not renewed by the team earlier this month. Hill comes to Atlanta after fifteen seasons as the head coach of Fresno State. There he accumulated an 112-80 record and made 11 bowl appearances. Prior to taking the job at Fresno State in 1997, Hill spent five years as an offensive line coach with the Cleveland Browns (1992-95) and Baltimore Ravens (1996). In Cleveland, he served under New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
Hill coached current Falcons safety James Sanders and guard Andrew Jackson during his time at Fresno State. Jackson is one of four former Fresno State offensive linemen currently in the league. Logan Mankins and Ryan Wendell both play for Belichick in New England, while Kenny Wiggins is currently a member of the Ravens practice squad.
Prior to taking the job with the Browns, Hill was the offensive coordinator at the University of Arizona for two seasons. That followed a six-year stint as an assistant at Fresno State where he primarily coached the offensive line. In 1983, he worked with the offensive linemen for the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL. Prior to that he served as the offensive line coach at UNLV (1981-82), Utah (1977-80), and L.A. Valley College (1974-76).
The team announced that secondary coach Alvin Reynolds won’t return to the Falcons in 2012, joining former offensive line coach Paul Boudreau as another assistant that the Falcons opted not to renew their contracts with the team. Reynolds came over to the Falcons with Mike Smith in 2008 after several years as the defensive backs coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Falcons hired Tim Lewis two years ago to help improve their secondary play, and presumably he will take over full duties of that position group with Reynolds departing.
On the potential front of replacing Boudreau, the Falcons were reportedly interested in Jaguars OL coach Andy Heck, who served with both Dirk Koetter and Mike Smith in Jacksonville since 2006. In Jacksonville, Heck replaced Boudreau that year. But according to Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union, Heck will be retained by the Jaguars under new head coach and former Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey. Boudreau has since been hired by the St. Louis Rams, the same team he served prior to joining the Falcons in 2008.
Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reports
that Falcons have hired Mike Nolan as their new defensive coordinator, replacing Brian VanGorder who departed for Auburn earlier this month
. Nolan is an experienced defensive coordinator, serving in that role for 14 seasons. The Falcons will become the seventh different team that he has held the position with.
Nolan served as defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins the past two seasons. This past year, the Dolphins were the 6th ranked scoring defense and 15th ranked total defense. Prior to joining the Dolphins, Nolan spent a year as the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos, where they ranked 7th in total defense and 12th in scoring defense. Prior to that, he was the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers for four seasons, compiling an 18-37 record. Before taking the 49ers job, he was the Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator for three seasons. The Ravens were a Top 10 scoring defense for the latter two years he was. He joined the Ravens coaching staff in 2001 as their wide receivers coach. For 2001 and 2002, he coached alongside current Falcons head coach Mike Smith. Prior to joining the Ravens, he was the defensive coordinator of three different teams: New York Giants (1993-96) under former Falcons head coach Dan Reeves, Washington (1997-99), and New York Jets (2000). Prior to joining the Jets, he coordinated 4-3 defenses, and since then he has worked primarily with 3-4 defenses.
It is not known if the Falcons will continue with their 4-3 defense, or try and transition to a 3-4 scheme. The last time the Falcons were a 3-4 defense, it was in 2002-03 under coordinator Wade Phillips. For much of the 1980s and early 1990s, the Falcons were a 3-4 defense.
Nolan is the son of former San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints head coach Dick Nolan.
The team announced that offensive line coach Paul Boudreau will not be returning to the Falcons this year due to his contract expiring. Boudreau joined the team’s coaching staff in 2008.
Boudreau has served as an assistant coach in the NFL for 25 years, having previous stints with St. Louis (2006-07), Jacksonville (2003-05), Carolina (2001-02), Miami (1999-00), New England (1997-98), Detroit (1994-96), and New Orleans (1987-93). In 2010, Tyson Clabo was the tenth different blocker to make the Pro Bowl under Boudreau’s tutelage.
It is not known if the Falcons will hire a new offensive line coach, or potentially elevate assistant OL coach Paul Dunn to the lead position.
Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that league sources have indicated the Falcons have hired former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter as their new offensive coordinator, replacing Mike Mularkey who took over the Jacksonville head coaching position this past week.
Koetter first joined the Jaguars in 2007, the last season where current Falcons head coach Mike Smith served as that team’s defensive coordinator. That season also marked the only time the Jaguars offense was highly ranked under Koetter, finishing 7th in total offense and 6th in scoring offense largely built off the league’s 2nd ranked rushing offense. Since then, the Jaguars offense has struggled at various times, averaging a rank of 17th in total offense and 22nd in scoring over the ensuing three seasons. This past year the Jaguars fell all the way to 32nd in total offense and 28th in scoring, largely due to their poor performing rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert who finished the year with a 65.4 passer rating, lowest in the league.
Prior to joining the Jaguars, Koetter spent six seasons as the head coach of Arizona State, leading them to a 40-34 record, including a 2-2 bowl record. Prior to Arizona State, he was Boise State’s head coach for three seasons compiling a 26-10 overall record and 2-0 bowl record. Koetter led Boise State to their first bowl win 1999 after the team made the jump to Division I (now FBS) in 1996. Before taking over the head job at Boise State, he was the offensive coordinator at several schools for the previous 14 years, starting at San Francisco State (1985), UTEP (1986-88), Missouri (1989-93), Boston College (1994-95), and Oregon (1996-98).
After his collegiate career as a quarterback at Idaho State ended in 1980, he spent two years as the head coach of his alma mater, Highland High before moving onto San Francisco State in 1985.