Although I’m not sure I’ve ever written it, there have been several times where I have been critical of Arthur Blank. His relationship with Dan Quinn off the field hurt the Falcons on the field, as he refused to move on when it was clear Quinn’s message had run stale. That aside, though, the city of Atlanta is unbelievably blessed to have an owner like Arthur Blank calling the shots, and there is no better representation of that than the most recent hiring cycle.
Of all the things said during the introductory press conferences of new head coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot, the resounding respect they had for Blank and the Falcons organization stood out the most. As Albert Breer pointed out in his Monday Morning Quarterback column, Smith was courted by every team with a head coaching vacancy, but just as the Falcons favored Smith, Smith favored the Falcons based on the homework he did.
The ex-Titans OC had options. Every team with an opening, all seven of them, put in for him. So as much as he did have to win the interview, Smith was also weighing one job against the next, in case he did have to pick between them. And so he made a ton of calls to his connections across the coaching business to identify what would be important to him and find a team that had it.
“Rarely do you get options,” Smith said. “So obviously, it was nice to have options in terms of talking to multiple teams, to kind of see the landscape. I just wanted to know that it was a stable structure. I didn’t care if the team had been there already or not. So that was a big deal, [as was] how collaborative it was going to be with the GM in place or if they were going to hire somebody.”
His background work (and he worked with Atlanta exec Ruston Webster in Tennessee, so there were things he already knew) showed the Falcons to have the sort of sustainable setup he wanted, and the clincher there, really, was the rapport he felt with owner Arthur Blank and president Rich McKay on his second interview.
Fontenot made that same point clear during his opening press conference as Mickey Loomis was already grooming him to be the Saints’ next general manager. He consistently reiterated that he wasn’t actively looking for a job; however, the Falcons and Arthur Blank were too fantastic of an opportunity to pass up.
This isn’t unique to just this hiring cycle, either. In 2015, after the Falcons fired Mike Smith, Dan Quinn was the hottest coaching candidate on the block. He led the Seattle Seahawks legendary Legion of Boom defense to back-to-back Super Bowls. Blank could have rushed the process and jumped on one of the other popular names linked to the Falcons, but instead, he waited for Quinn and got his guy. The next six seasons may not have turned out quite as Blank would have liked; however, the sentiment remains the same — people around the league are impressed with the Falcons organization from top to bottom.
The Falcons are far from one of the most storied franchises in the NFL. Their past is littered with inconsistencies, but ever since Blank took over the team in 2002, Atlanta has been trending up — both on and off the field. Now, if only we could get him to coax Liberty Media into selling the Braves. Then we might finally get this city the championship it rightfully deserves.
You must log in to post a comment.