With it sounding like Terry Fontenot is close to joining the Falcons, attention turns to completing this staff and getting ready for the 2021 NFL Draft. I think the Falcons will be eager to trade down with Arthur Smith in play, but what type of personnel will he be drafting? I’ve been shouting from the rooftops for Atlanta to move to a 3-4 defense, and hopefully, with the defensive coordinator candidates mentioned — it’s closer to reality than it was last week.
Offensive Coordinator/Passing Game Coordinator/QB Coach:
Right now, it’s looking like Arthur Smith will call the plays, and Bears passing game coordinator Dave Ragone will join the staff in some capacity. While I don’t think the Falcons will have an official offensive coordinator, this would be the second in command as far as offensive coaches go behind Arthur Smith. Pat O’Hara is another name that makes a lot of sense. He’s been the quarterbacks coach of the Titans since 2018, and I fully expect Coach Smith to be interested in bringing him aboard again. There have been a few other names mentioned, but these are the guys I expect to be seriously considered.
Miscellaneous Offensive Coaches:
Todd Downing is the tight ends coach for the Titans, and it would be nice to see Smith extend him that role in Atlanta. He’s done fantastic things with the super athletic Jonnu Smith, so hopefully, he can help develop Hayden Hurst before he’s due for an extension. Mike Munchak will be the big target. The hiring of the next offensive line coach in Atlanta will be one of the most critical hires of the offseason. The Falcons have had issues with protecting Matt Ryan and running the ball for years — something they will have to get back to in order to return to the playoffs. Tony Dews will likely get a call to interview with Arthur Smith as the running backs coach, but I doubt he would be interested in leaving Derrick Henry. Can’t say I blame him.
It’s rumored that two-time Super Bowl Champion Dean Pees will come out of retirement to join Arthur Smith, but it may not be as the defensive coordinator. Another name that has been connected to Atlanta is Jerry Gray. He’s the current defensive backs coach of the Green Bay Packers, so their playoff run would have to end before he is interviewed. He has done fantastic things with Jaire Alexander and Darnell Savage.
Miscellaneous Defensive Coaches:
Nick Eason is a name I keep hearing, and for a good reason. The former player and current defensive line coach of the Cincinnati Bengals has done a great job with guys like Carlos Dunlap, who is an impending free agent this offseason. He has connections with the Titans and is a Toombs County native. Matt Pees would likely be eager to join his father, as he currently serves as a High School football coach after leaving Tennessee when Dean retired. Albert Breer suggested that Colts defensive backs coach Jonathan Gannon could become a Co-Defensive Coordinator in Atlanta. I would be all about that — he has done fantastic things with that Indianapolis secondary.
Surely more names will pop up in the coming days, but hirings should start happening sooner rather than later.