Though the Falcons still have to satisfy the Rooney Rule by interviewing two external minority candidates in person, Bill Belichick should be considered the clear-cut favorite to be Atlanta’s next head coach.
Ian Rapoport reported on Thursday that the two sides would meet for a second interview after Arthur Blank and Belichick initially met one-on-one as things heat up. According to Rapoport, Blank’s top subordinates — Rich McKay and Terry Fontenot– will be present for the interview.
Hiring Belichick brings about a ton of questions. Some of it has to do with the Falcons’ direction at quarterback, but most of it pertains to the power structure within the organization. McKay and Fontenot’s fate may be currently hanging in the balance.
Belichick comes from New England, where he operated with autonomy as the de facto GM and head coach for more than two decades. During the press conference following Arthur Smith’s termination, we learned that Fontenot and Smith reported to McKay and that a similar 50/50 structure would continue.
That might not work for Belichick. According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, a source within the team predicts that “Belichick would take the job only if McKay is completely frozen out of football operations.”
With Blank turning 82 years old before the start of the 2024 campaign, Atlanta’s owner is desperate for a Super Bowl, which may force him to give into Belichick’s demands.
Though Falcons fans may not see a problem with McKay’s role shrinking, the hire may have similar impacts on Fontenot’s responsibilities, which would be a mistake. Atlanta’s GM is set to have a similar role, but that role is subject to change with the hire, as McKay pointed out during the Falcons press conference.
We aren’t exactly sure of who to credit or blame for the Falcons draft picks since 2021, but it’s fair to assume Fontenot is at least partially responsible. He’d deserve praise for some picks and blame for others if that were the case; however, his work on the pro personnel side of things has been a roaring success.
Terry Fontenot doesn’t deserve to lose responsibility if the Falcons hire Bill Belichick. In fact, I’d argue he deserves more of a say in building the roster. At the very least, I hope his role doesn’t change with Belichick.
It seems this second interview is for Belichick to vet Fontenot and McKay, not the other way around. Arthur Blank is clearly desperate, and if he’s still trying to convince Belichick to take the job, the Falcons owner is vulnerable to succumbing to his demands.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire