At the beginning of the season, Falcons fans certainly did not expect to be excited about a two-game win streak going into Week 10. Truth be told, we shouldn’t be. We should be excited by a season blemished by only three losses. We should be excited to be a team with high hopes to make the promised Super Bowl run.
After an abysmal first ten weeks that has included freak losses, the firings of both the GM and head coach, and the waiving of former first-round pick Takk McKinley, some may wonder how Atlanta could return to the level of excellence they experienced years ago. However, as I have expressed before, this is far from a bad team. The Falcons just need a coaching staff that is worth a damn.
The question is, who could Atlanta hire that turns them from a 3-6 team into a 2 loss team?
I can think of a few off the top of my head, but today we will focus on a specific coach with a history of two-loss seasons.
The two-loss seasons have been prevalent at Oklahoma, where Riley ultimately achieved stardom, but I’ll get to that in a few moments. Let’s look at the parts of Riley’s career you haven’t heard of.
Texas Tech (2003-2010)
The Red Raiders hired Riley as an assistant in 2003. Eventually, he would work his way to WR coach and later become the interim offensive coordinator. Over the course of seven seasons, the Red Raiders went to seven bowl games and won four. In four of those years, the QB won NCAA passing awards. After being promoted to WR coach in 07, Riley was responsible for coaching Michael Crabtree and Danny Amendola, who each had 100+ reception/1,000+ yard seasons. Crabtree won the Biletnikoff Award with 134 Receptions for almost 2,000 yards (Big 12 Record). The culmination of Riley’s stint at Texas Tech was becoming the interim offensive coordinator and leading the team to a ten-point victory over Michigan State. The offense amassed a whopping 579 yards in the win.
East Carolina (2010-2014)
As OC at East Carolina, Riley developed a record-shattering offense. He coached there for five seasons and owns the top five passing seasons in school history as well as four of the top five in terms of total offense. By 2014, Riley became OC/QB coach/assistant head coach. In this season alone, his team was ranked nationally as the third-best passing offense, the fifth-best total offense and set a school single-season offensive yardage record of nearly 7,000 yards.
Initially hired as the OC/QB coach under Bob Stoops, Riley was, again, responsible for legendary offenses. Stoops soon retired in 2016 and turned over the helm to Riley, who quickly proved to be an upgrade over the legendary coach. In his three years as the head man, the Sooners have won three Big 12 titles and went to the playoffs three times. He was named Big 12 coach of the year in 2018 and is on track to have only two losses in any season of his head-coaching career. Additionally, he was the first person to win 12 games in his first season as a head coach. Through his first three seasons, he is the winningest coach since the mid-80s. Let’s look at a few more national stats from Oklahoma:
- Scoring (44.6ppg)
- Total Offense (554.9 ypg)
- TDs from Scrimmage (382)
- Pass Efficiency Rating (189)
- Yards per attempt (10.7)
- Completion Percentage (69.1)
- Passing Offense (321.9 ypg)
- Rushing Offense (233 ypg)
Oklahoma is currently the 4th best overall team in as many years, trailing only Bama, Clemson, and Ohio State. Riley has coached notable quarterbacks such as Heisman winners Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and runner-up Jalen Hurst. He may be the offensive-minded coach the Falcons need, bringing a new dynamic to Atlanta’s lack-luster offensive scheme. The addition of Riley and a notable defensive coordinator could turn the Falcons around in just one season.
Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire