From Ian Rapoport, Saints VP/Assistant General Manager for Pro Personnel Terry Fontenot is the favorite to be named the next General Manager of the Atlanta Falcons, so the hiring of a Head Coach could also happen in the coming days. Last night, multiple media outlets named Arthur Smith as the frontrunner.
While Smith wouldn’t be a bad choice, NFL insiders also reported that Atlanta could very likely see a Joe Brady and Terry Fontenot pairing. They have a connection from New Orleans, as Brady spent a year there before darting for LSU to become their passing game coordinator. Brady (like Smith) is one of the hottest names in the coaching carousel. He’s been interviewed by every team that has a vacant head coaching position, despite only having one year of offensive coordinator experience under his belt. Obviously, these are conflicting reports, but the question remains — is Joe Brady the guy for Terry Fontenot, or is that smoke?
If Fontenot isn’t officially the General Manager of the Falcons, it means the final decision could come from Blank and Rich McKay. We’ve seen Blank have a heavy hand when selecting coaches in the past, but is his decision going to overrule Terry Fontenot’s reported desire to bring in Joe Brady? If so, that’s a problem.
We’ve seen nightmarish disconnect and a never-ending cycle of General Managers who didn’t pick coaches, coaches who didn’t pick players, and so on (see: Gase, Adam — New York Jets). The most important aspect of hiring a General Manager is giving him the autonomy to pick his own coach. If you bring in a guy that isn’t his guy, even if the coach is good, there’s potential for disarray and problems early. With a team like Atlanta that has a window of competing shutting quickly, Atlanta cannot afford to waste any time.
I have to imagine, even if the hiring of Fontenot isn’t official, that he made it clear in his interview who he would like to hire as the next head coach in Atlanta. His man could be Brady, but he might also be fond of Smith. My only hope is that Blank and McKay put a lot of weight into whoever he wants to hire.