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The Coaching Search

January 11th, 2008

I’m betting there might be one or two people out there curious to hear me weigh in on this coaching search. Well, here goes…

Frankly, I don’t care. I really don’t. I think unless you’re lucky enough to hire a proven winner like Marty Schottenheimer or Bill Cowher, then anyone you hire is going to be a calculated risk. And I don’t really buy into the notion of the “Super Coach.” If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then I suggest you read Gregg Easterbrook’s enlightening column from a month ago.

There are numerous pros and cons to every coach the Falcons could potentially hire, some of them I will briefly summarize now…

Jim Caldwell: Seems to be a Tony Dungy clone and seemingly the most likely candidate to replace Dungy if he should retire after this season. I’m not a huge fan of Dungy’s quiet, confident demeanor and coaching style. If you have top talent, then it works, if not, then it stinks. Without Hall of Famers on the Colts offense and Bucs defense, Dungy probably wins half as many games as he does.

Jim Schwartz: A Moneyball enthusiast, who until this year had very underwhelming results as the Titans defensive coordinator. The Titans strong defensive performance was thanks to the play of Albert Haynesworth moreso than anything Schwartz did in my opinion. Does Moneyball work in the NFL? I don’t know, but unless he has a GM that shares similar beliefs they won’t be on the same page, which always leads to bad results.

Rex Ryan: Perhaps the son is paying for the sins of the father (Buddy) and his quirky and standoffish career as an NFL head coach. But what can we judge about Ryan’s tenure as Ravens defensive coordinator? Nothing. The Ravens were a good defense before him, and likely will be one after him.

Jason Garrett: I’m sorry, despite the results seen in Dallas, I can’t get on a bandwagon for a coach that has only three years of coaching experience at any level beyond high school. How much does Garrett’s 12-year playing career factor into potential success as an NFL head coach? I don’t know, but I’m not thinking very much. Call me Mr. Garrett when you’ve coached in the NFL or college for at least 8 years.

Tony Sparano: I got no real beef with Sparano actually outside the fact that he is by all accounts already been hired in Miami.

Mike Smith: Has done a good job with Jacksonville’s defense over the years, but how much is it his doing, and how much is Del Rio’s? This is always an issue when you hire the defensive coordinator from a team with an already defensive-minded coach.

Pete Carroll: I don’t have a beef with Pete because he’s a “college guy.” My beef with him is that he had issues with motivating players, discipline, and late season collapses during his brief stints in New York and New England a decade ago. I think Carroll is an NFL coach moonlighting as a college coach, but I’m also not very keen on handing him complete control of the organization when he’s shown no ability to succeed doing so at the NFL level.

Steve Spagnuolo: I guess I like him because he’s a Jim Johnson disciple, which leads me to believe he’d be much more aggressive in his overall game-planning than most defensive coaches. Outside this and his purported fiery nature, I don’t know enough about him to either like or dislike him.

If you ask me, who the Falcons pick as their next head coach will take a distant backseat to who they pick as their general manager in terms of importance. Teams win because of talent more so than coaching if you ask me. And I think the future success of the Falcons will come down to one key decision this off-season, and it’s not who we hire in the top two jobs in the next few days or weeks, but how we settle our quarterback position.

Put me on the Matt Ryan bandwagon. While, I don’t expect him to go onto to be a Hall of Famer, I do see a ton of similarities between Ryan and Tom Brady, in terms of their competitiveness, leadership skills, and efficiency. I’m of the mindset that while Matt Ryan alone cannot take the Falcons out of the cellar unto greatness, he certainly will be a huge step in the right direction. While a player like McFadden is a better and more talented player and “sexier” draft pick, teams don’t win championships because they have good or great running backs. Just ask Barry Sanders, Tiki Barber, and LaDainian Tomlinson. They win championships because they have good quarterbacks, or they have defenses that are good enough to stop said quarterbacks. Unlike in fantasy football, in the real NFL you are supposed to get the QB before you get the RB.

So now you’re asking if I think that the GM is the more important position, what are my thoughts on those candidates? Once again, I don’t really care. Everyone we’ve interviewed doesn’t have “final say” power in their respective organizations, so I can’t really project what kind of decisions they would make if granted such authority here. The candidates I prefer are the ones that come from organizations that focus more on the draft than free agency. So really none of the candidates really look bad in my eyes.

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