“Coaching calendar” a factor in Falcons double-dipping in QB market?

NFL: JAN 23 NFC Divisional Round Rams at Buccaneers

The Falcons shocked the NFL world when they took Michael Penix with their top draft pick about six weeks after inking Kirk Cousins to a $180 million free agent contract.

It’s obviously created ripples throughout Flowery Branch and the rest of the league. As we distance ourselves from draft night, more comes to light. Most recently, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reported that Arthur Blank ‘loomed large’ in the decision to draft Penix.

There was a moment of speculation when a video of the Falcons’ war room went viral that looked like Terry Fontenot was explaining to Blank why they selected Penix. When in reality, that couldn’t have been further from the truth.

A new nugget from Fowler is he believes Atlanta’s offseason timeline — i.e., the head coaching search — played a factor in the Falcons’ double-dipping in the quarterback market.

“I do think the coaching calendar played a factor in Atlanta’s decision to sign Cousins even while continuing to scout quarterbacks in the draft,” Fowler said. “By the time Raheem Morris was hired and fleshed out his staff, the Falcons were pressed against free agency. Cousins was viewed as a sure thing. But the final four to six weeks before the draft is when coaches put their stamp on draft scouting, which helps explain why Morris and his staff would also zero in on Penix.”

This is exactly what seems like happened. The Falcons are just kind of making it up as they go along, with no semblance of alignment between long-term and short-term plans, and this pre-dates the Raheem Morris hire.

Atlanta got somewhat of a late jump on the offseason because of the hiring cycle, but that shouldn’t be an excuse. From what Fowler believes, the Falcons saw one shiny thing in Kirk Cousins and asked Arthur Blank for it, then saw a shinier thing and did the same.

“Word began to spread in NFL circles on the Saturday before the draft that the Falcons loved Penix, to the extent that he ranked as high as their No. 2 overall quarterback in the draft,” Fowler noted. “On April 5, Falcons brass flew from Atlanta to Seattle to watch Penix throw for a few hours in a private setting, then turned around and flew home. That tells a lot.”

The Falcons put together a coaching staff, got to work on assessing the roster and quickly identified quarterback as the single biggest hole to fill this offseason. Without blinking, the new staff targeted Kirk Cousins before putting together a comprehensive long-term plan involving the NFL Draft. That’s what it seems like to me.

I can criticize the organization without criticizing the prospect. I don’t hate that they landed on Michael Penix because the kid can absolutely spin the rock. I’m just not in love with the process that led to Penix being drafted.

Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire

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