The Falcons hired an assistant special teams coach today. Eric Sutulovich comes from the Detroit Lions, where he spent last season as an offensive assistant. Prior to that he was an assistant at the University of Kansas. Prior to that he served as an assistant special teams coach with the Houston Texans for four seasons (2002-05). Prior to that he spent some time as an offensive graduate assistant at the University of Pittsburgh (2000) and Louisiana Tech (1997-99). He also served as an offensive coordinator at Fort Scott Community College (2001) and for the Casper Calvary (2000) of the Indoor Football League.
Sutulovich replaces Tom McMahon as the assistant special teams coach. McMahon was hired by the St. Louis Rams.
The Falcons lost a second assistant from Mike Smith’s coaching staff today as the St. Louis Dispatch reports that Tom McMahon has been hired by the St. Louis Rams. McMahon served as assistant special teams coach under Keith Armstrong this past year in Atlanta. He was one of the few holdovers from Bobby Petrino’s staff made by Smith this past winter. In St. Louis, under new head coach Steve Spagnuolo, he will serve as the team’s special teams coordinator.
The only other Falcon assistant that has not been retained is Doug Plank, who joined the New York Jets staff as an assistant defensive backs coach. Plank joined the Falcons this past summer, in a not so clearly defined role, but reportedly worked with the team’s defensive backs and special teams. Plank is formerly the head coach of the Georgia Force. However, with the Arena Football League canceling it’s upcoming season, that freed up Plank to take a more permanent gig in the NFL.
Don Banks of SI.com reported that Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey turned down the Detroit Lions after they sought him to be interviewed for their vacant head coaching position a week ago. According to Banks’s source, Mularkey remains interested in becoming a head coach again, but did not deem the Lions as the right opportunity.
Mularkey was formerly the head coach of the Buffalo Bills for two seasons (2004-05). He just completed his first season as Falcons offensive coordinator.
Despite a report from Pro Football Talk.com about the potential that Falcons receivers coach Terry Robiskie is a candidate for the vacant Oakland Raiders head coaching position, a report by Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee indicates there isn’t “anything to the speculation.”
Pro Football Talk.com cites FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer as the source of its report. Per that report, Robiskie has already begun lining up a staff of potential assistant coaches. Jones has cited the AJC and the Raiders themselves as his sources. Robiskie has yet to interview for the position.
Robiskie is finishing up his first season with the Falcons. He has two previous stints as head coaching, serving as interim head coach for the Washington Redskins for the final three games of the 2000 season and the final five games for the Cleveland Browns in 2004. Prior to joining the Redskins in 1999, he spent seventeen seasons as an assistant with the Raiders.
Updating previous reports, Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey remains a potential candidate for the Detroit Lions head coaching position, but it is not yet known if he has actually sat down for an interview with the team according to the Detroit News.
The Lions have already interviewed several candidates according to the report, but their process could be accelerated due to the impending hire by the Denver Broncos that could come this weekend.
Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Detroit Lions have been granted permission to interview Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey for their vacant head coaching position. Mularkey is one of several candidates that the Lions are looking to replace Rod Marinelli, who led the Lions to an 0-16 season this year, an NFL first.
Mularkey won’t be available to interview for the position until after the Falcons wildcard game against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday, January 3.
Mularkey has previous head coaching experience, having spent two years with the Buffalo Bills before re-signing after the 2005 season. The Bills had a 14-18 record during his two-year stint.
Mularkey just completed his first season as the Falcons offensive coordinator, helping to guide rookie passer Matt Ryan to an Offensive Rookie of the Year, and Michael Turner to a second place voting in the Most Value Player honors.
The AJC reports that Georgia Force head coach Doug Plank will join the Falcons as an assistant coach. Falcons owner Arthur Blank also owns the Force, an Arena League team.
The AJC cites teams spokesman Reggie Roberts as indicating Plan will serve as a coaching assistant and work on special projects for the team. The paper also indicates Plank may work with the team’s safeties as well, although Emmitt Thomas and Alvin Reynolds currently fill the capacity as secondary coaches.
Plank compiled a 47-25 record in four seasons as the head coach of the Force, making the playoffs in all four years. He earned AFL Coach of the Year honors in 2005 and 2007. Prior to joining the Force, he was the defensive coordinator to the Arizona Rattlers for three seasons. Prior to that he worked as an analyst on television and radio for seven years. Plank was a top player at Ohio State before he entered in hte NFL in 1975 as a twelfth round pick for the Chicago Bears. He played safety for the Bears from 1975-82, appearing in 101 games, starting 83 of them, and recording 15 interceptions and 14 fumble recoveries. His number 46 was the inspiration for the name of the famous Buddy Ryan defense in Chicago.
Not surprisingly, the AJC reports that linebacker Keith Brooking will be a recipient of one of the radio headsets inside helmets, which have been newly implemented this season to allow defensive coaches to radio in calls and signals to defensive players. Previously, this technology had been used offensively with quarterbacks, but the league has decided to do the same for defense.
Teams will have two devices due to defensive substitutions, but only one player will be allowed to use it at a time. Brooking will be the primary person. No word on who the alternative option would be when Brooking is out of the game.
New Falcons head coach Mike Smith’s coaching staff was completed today when the team announced they had hired a new linebackers coach in Glenn Pires and also opted to retain Billy “White Shoes” Johnson as an assistant strength and conditioning coach.
Pires served as an assistant with the Miami Dolphins for the past five seasons, working as an assistant linebackers (2007), defensive quality control (2005-06), and assistant defensive line (2003-04) coach in his time there. Prior to joining the Dolphins, Pires spent two seasons as linebackers coach for the Detroit Lions and five years in the same role with the Arizona Cardinals. His first coaching stint was as a graduate assistant with Syracuse in 1983. He worked as defensive line and linebackers coach at Dartmouth (1985-88) afterwards before going back to Syracuse in 1989 in charge of the defensive line. He also worked with the team’s outside linebackers before moving on to Michigan State (1995) for one season before joining the pro ranks with the Cardinals in 1996.
Johnson will join Bill Hughan as an assistant to new strength coach Jeff Fish. Johnson first joined the Falcons organization in 1994 in charge of player programs and development before moving into the coaching ranks in 2006 as an assistant strength coach. Fish will mark the third different strength coach that Johnson has worked under, starting with Sal Alosi in 2006 and followed by Evan Marcus last year. Johnson had an extensive playing career (1974-88) as a wide receiver and returner, including six years with the Falcons (1982-87). He currently ranks second all-time for the Falcons in punt return yards (1,251) and sixteenth in receiving yards (2,062).
WBIR of Knoxville reports that Tennessee defensive coordinator John Chavis will not be joining the Falcons as an assistant coach. Chavis interviewed this past weekend for the vacant linebackers coach position, but has decided to stay on at Tennessee.
Chavis has served in his current capacity since 1995, originally joining the University of Tennessee, his alma mater, in 1989 as defensive line and linebackers coach. Chavis has no previous pro coaching experience, having served in the college ranks since 1979.
Linebackers coach remains the only key spot on Mike Smith’s new coaching staff yet to be filled. Last year, Brian VanGorder served in that capacity, but has since been promoted to defensive coordinator. Chavis worked with current Falcons defensive line coach Ray Hamilton while with the Vols in 1992.