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.
Today the Falcons announced the hiring of Alvin Reynolds as the team’s new defensive backs coach. He will work with assistant head coach Emmitt Thomas who will also have responsibilities in the secondary this year as he did a year ago. Reynolds had spent 5 years with new head coach Mike Smith in Jacksonville, coaching their defensive backs. With the hiring of Reynolds, the only major void remaining on Smith’s coaching staff is who will be in charge of linebackers.
Reynolds joined Jacksonville after four seasons as a defensive assistant with the Carolina Panthers. Previously he worked as the secondary coach with the Baltimore Ravens (1996-98), and was a defensive assistant with the Denver Broncos (1993-95) as well. His prior experience came on the collegiate level, working as an assistant at Indiana State for 11 seasons. He joined them as a graduate assistant in 1982, and was promoted to coach the secondary in 1983. He added the title of assistant head coach in 1990. Reynolds played strong safety at Indiana State (1978-81) and received two Heisman votes as a senior.
The team announced the hiring of former James Madison assistant coach Joe Danna as the team’s new defensive quality control coach.
Danna served one season at JMU as defensive backs coach this past year. Prior to that he worked in the same capacity for one year at Georgia Southern where he worked with current Falcons defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder. From 2002-05 he was an assistant at Central Michigan. In 2002 and 2005, he was receivers coach and assistant special teams coach. In 2003 and 2004, he worked with safeties and continued assisting on special teams. Prior to that, in 2001 he was a graduate assistant at the University of Georgia, another year where he worked under Van Gorder. He also worked with defensive backs. He served in the same capacity as graduate assistant working with defensive backs in 2000 at Central Michigan. Danna played wide receiver at CMU between 1995 and 1998.
The league announced six new inductees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame including Falcons assistant head coach Emmitt Thomas. Thomas has been an assistant coach in the NFL for the past 27 years, but it was his 13-year playing career as a defensive back with the Kansas City Chiefs that got him this illustrious honor. Also being inducted were cornerback Darrell Green, wide receiver Art Monk, linebacker Andre Tippett, defensive end Fred Dean, and offensive tackle Gary Zimmerman.
Thomas, 64, career with the Chiefs began in 1966. Over the course of his career, Thomas appeared in 181 games, was selected to five Pro Bowls, and appeared in two Super Bowls. His 58 career interceptions currently rank 9th all-time in league history, and he led the league twice in that category (1969, 1974). He has 937 career interception return yards and 5 touchdowns. Thomas was inducted in the Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame in 1986.
Recently Thomas was retained by new head coach Mike Smith as assistant head coach. He served as the team’s interim head coach for the final three games of this past season following the resignation of Bobby Petrino.
The Falcons today announced the hiring of another assistant coach, this time adding Paul Boudreau as the new offensive line coach. Boudreau will work with Paul Dunn, who was hired yesterday to help improve the Falcons line.
Boudreau was dismissed by the St. Louis Rams this past month, having served two seasons as offensive line coach. He joined the Rams after a three-year stint in Jacksonville, where he worked with new head coach Mike Smith. Prior to working with the Jaguars, he headed the offensive line for the Carolina Panthers (2001-02), Miami Dolphins (1999-00), New England Patriots (1997-98), Detroit Lions (1994-96), New Orleans Saints (1987-93), and Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL (1983-86). Prior to that he worked nine year as an assistant on the collegiate level, coaching at Boston College (1974-75), Maine (1976-78), Dartmouth (1979-81), and Navy (1983).
During his 21 years as an NFL assistant, he has helped guide six different blockers to a total of 9 Pro Bowl seasons, including Lomas Brown and Kevin Glover with the Lions, Brad Edelman and Joel Hilgenberg with the Saints, Bruce Armstrong with the Patriots, and Tim Ruddy with the Dolphins. Three times during that span, quarterbacks playing behind his lines have been the least sacked quarterbacks in the league: Dan Marino (1999), Bobby Hebert (1992), and Steve Walsh (1991).
The team announced the hiring of Chris Scelfo and Paul Dunn today. Scelfo will coach tight ends while Dunn will be the assistant offensive line coach. For both men, this will be their first ventures in the NFL as coaches. The team has yet to name the offensive line coach who will be working with Dunn. That along with who will be in charge of linebackers represent the two major vacancies still remaining on head coach Mike Smith’s staff. The team may also seek to hire an additional secondary coach, since it has to be determined if assistant head coach Emmitt Thomas will retain those duties.
Scelfo most recently was head coach at Tulane, where he led the Green Wave for eight seasons, where they compiled a 37-57 record. He led them to victories in both their bowl appearances. Prior to his time at Tulane, he was the assistant head coach and offensive line coach at George from 1996 to 1998. Before that he was an assistant at Marshall (1990-95). He originally served as offensive line coach at Marshall, but added offensive coordinator duties in 1993. He was a graduate assistant at Oklahoma for two years (1988-89) working with wide receivers and the offensive line. His first coaching gig came in 1986 at Northeastern Louisiana as a graduate assistant. He worked with the offensive line and tight ends for two seasons.
Dunn this past January was fired after three season as the offensive line coach at the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to that, he worked as run game coordinator and offensive line coach at Kentucky for two years (2003-04). He also served in those same duties at Kansas State (1998-02). Before that he worked as an offensive line coach at several programs, including Vanderbilt (1996-97), Cincinnati (1994-95), Maine (1990-93), Rutgers (1989), and Edinboro University (1986-88). Before that he served as a graduate assistant at Penn State (1984-85) and Pittsburgh (1983).