Super Bowl champion has valid criticism of Falcons, Blank over Belichick report

NFL: OCT 25 Falcons at Titans

The Falcons are making headlines for all the wrong reasons again with a new bombshell story from ESPN about Bill Belichick’s head coaching candidacy.

At one point, the eight-time Super Bowl champion was seen as the frontrunner for Atlanta’s vacancy, and apparently, Belichick thought he had the job in the bag too.

Several factors contributed to the Falcons turning away from Belichick. First and foremost, it seems that his former employer, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, gave him a terrible review.

Kraft told Arthur Blank that Belichick “couldn’t be trusted” and would conflict with the Falcons owner’s wishes to have a family atmosphere within the organization. “‘Blank likes coaches who feel part of a family,’ a Falcons source said, “and it wasn’t going to be that way with Bill.'”

The Falcons executives were also given a chance to voice their preferences among candidates, and Belichick didn’t make any of the lieutenant’s top three, which a former Patriots player took issue with.

ESPN analyst and Super Bowl champion Damien Woody bashed Blank and the Falcons for their process.

“Can we stop right there,” Woody said. “What the hell is a ‘family environment?’ I thought it was about winning. Everything’s about winning. It’s about winning championships. Everything comes with winning.”

Woody played for Belichick for five seasons, beginning in 1999, winning a pair of Super Bowls with New England. He’s certainly biased in his stance because of his allegiances to Belichick, but I don’t necessarily think he’s wrong either. It is all about winning in the NFL, and the Falcons haven’t done a lot of that recently.

“I get so sick of this ‘we want to collaborate.’ What the hell does that even mean? We’re trying to win championships. We’re taking about a football savant, a football genius. And he’s not even like, I guess there’s this panel of people down in Atlanta, Arthur Blank’s confidants that help him make a decision, and Bill’s not even in your top three? I can’t even take you seriously. You’re talking about the greatest coach in NFL history, and he’s not even in your top three? All because ‘we want to be collaborative,'” Woody added.

I want to say that the Falcons are one of a handful of teams that passed on Bill Belichick, and those clubs aren’t mentioned much at all in this story. This is eerily similar to the Lamar Jackson saga.

Atlanta wasn’t alone in their disinterest of the two-time MVP quarterback last offseason, but it is the Falcons who are continuously dragged by the national media. It’s frustrating because the media is refusing to acknowledge the fact that Jackson was never going to leave Baltimore.

Terry Fontenot would’ve had to offer a contract so ridiculous that the Ravens would’ve balked at matching it. At that point, it doesn’t even make sense. The Falcons would’ve had to overpay and give up two first-round picks, but the media conveniently leaves that out.

However, I don’t disagree with Woody about how flawed the Falcons’ process was in their head coaching search. It’s not crazy for an owner to enlist the services of his underlings, who certainly know more about football than him, but there’s also a fundamental issue with doing so.

Terry Fontenot, Rich McKay, and whoever else ranked the candidates had an incentive to pick the coach that was not only best for the Falcons but also who was best for them, which brings into question whether they would put their own interests above the organization’s.

Even if it’s not true, it brings doubt into the equation. Would it be so unbelievable if the entire search committee didn’t want Belichick because it would put their roles in danger? I don’t think so.

I do believe Woody is just picking the low-hanging fruit, similar to what NFL pundits do with Lamar Jackson and the Falcons, but I also believe Woody is correct in his assessment of the process being flawed.

I didn’t want Bill Belichick for the Falcons, and I’m happy with Raheem Morris, but it’s embarrassing how this organization is constantly the butt of the NFL’s jokes.

Photographer: Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire

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