Overreaction Tuesday: The Falcons hired the best general manager & head coach combo on the market


With all of the hires complete, I’m even happier with Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith leading the charge in Atlanta. Both guys have made some great hires on their respective staffs, but I was blown away by their introductory press conferences. It’s clear they are two guys that you want leading an organization in very dark times, and coming off of a 4-12 season; I couldn’t be more excited for 2021.

Arthur Smith will likely cater his system to the strengths of the offense, and with the way he had Ryan Tannehill looking — I expect Matt Ryan to be back in 2012 or 2016 form. Dean Pees has left retirement to coach a Falcons defense with some key pieces returning and will undoubtedly be adding guys in the 2021 NFL Draft. Terry Fontenot has an exceptional eye for talent, and he helped transform New Orleans into a fantastic regular season football team. So, who else got hired around the league that can compete with that?


Jacksonville Jaguars:

GM — Trent Baalke

HC — Urban Meyer


New York Jets:

GM — Joe Douglas (Retained)

HC — Robert Saleh

Los Angeles Chargers:

GM — Tom Telesco (Retained)

HC — Brandon Staley


Denver Broncos:

GM — George Paton

HC — Vic Fangio (Retained)


Carolina Panthers:

GM — Scott Fitterer

HC — Matt Rhule (Retained)


Washington Football Team:

GM — Martin Mayhew

HC — Ron Rivera (Retained)


Detroit Lions:

GM — Brad Holmes

HC — Dan Campbell


Philadelphia Eagles:

GM — Howie Roseman (Retained)

HC — Nick Sirianni


Houston Texans:

GM — Nick Caserio

HC — David Culley


Let’s start with the new general managers. I don’t really think Trent Baalke was a bad hire… but I certainly don’t think it was a good one. He was promoted to get Jim Harbaugh to come to San Francisco in 2011, and while the Niners made a Super Bowl — he also oversaw the questionable Chip Kelly experiment. He undoubtedly deserves credit for assembling their monster defense, including Justin Smith, Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis, and Navorro Bowman as a scout. So while I don’t think he’s a bad hire, I’m not sold.

George Paton wasn’t a bad hire, but he doesn’t have the record of success or longevity that Fontenot had. Fitterer actually used to be an MLB pitcher, but he was a valuable scout for the Seahawks for a while. Mayhew has kind of been all over the league, but he had success as a scout with the 49ers from 2017 to 2020. It was reported that Washington intended to keep the Panthers theme rolling by hiring Marty Hurney, but that fell through.

I really like Brad Holmes, and I think he will be greatly successful, but I’m not sold on his coach. Detroit is a tough place to win, but after Fontenot’s press conference — I’ll still take him. The Texans… they’re run by the team chaplain anyways, and he hand-picked Caserio as General Manager. Good luck with that.

Onto the coaches. I think all three of the first head coach hires were good moves and because Saleh and Staley surrounded themselves with good offensive coordinators. That can because buyer’s remorse when you get left behind, as Kyle Shanahan did in the 2016-2017 offseason. Dan Campbell and Nick Sirianni both had… interesting introductory press conferences in their own special way. David Culley makes no sense to me, but who knows. He doesn’t have a prayer with Deshaun Watson and JJ Watt reportedly packing their bags.

In short, nobody knows how any of these hires will shake out. Maybe Sirianni, who stammered like he was in his fourth-grade spelling bee, goes to the NFC Championship in 2021. Maybe notorious knee biter Dan Campbell wins five Super Bowls for the Lions. For now, I’ll take Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith over any of these guys — and it makes me even more excited that they’re leading the Falcons.


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