With Arthur Smith as head coach and Terry Fontenot officially named as general manager, what lies ahead for the Atlanta Falcons?
Smith and Fontenot will have a great deal of power when it comes to free agents, draft prospects and shaping the roster as a whole. However, there are other organizational choices to be made that come first, such as filling out the assistant coaching staff.
When an organization performs poorly, the head coach takes most of the blame. Sports fans (and NFL fans, in particular) have seen that offensive and defensive coordinators are far from immune in the blame game.
With that in mind, the individual coaches, offensive, defensive and positional coaches all matter as Smith looks to balance the future with the present. Smith will likely call plays, which, to Falcons fans’ relief, avoids a Kyle Shanahan situation where the offense takes a drastic step back in an offseason.
Flight: Dave Ragone’s fit as offensive coordinator
Ragone’s resume does not stand out from other candidates and, if anything, spells underwhelming results. He spent the last four years as the Chicago Bears quarterbacks’ coach (yes, the terrible Bears’ offense).
I don’t intend to drag Ragone, but most of the Bears’ coaching staff don’t have the most outstanding resumes either, as evidenced by their inability to improve the Bears’ offense recently.
Ragone may prove himself to be a great offensive coordinator, especially since he will not call any plays. He has seen how not to run an offense after years of watching Matt Nagy and Bill Lazor. Give him time now that he is the Falcons’ offensive coordinator and will be working closely with Smith.
Fight: Dean Pees’ abilities to transform the subpar Falcons defense
On the opposite end of Ragone, well known defensive coordinator Dan Pees brings loads of potential to a defense seeking an identity through his more than 40 years of experience.
Pees retired last year, but before that, he shepherded strong defenses as the Baltimore Ravens’ defensive coordinator from 2012 to 2017 and then in 2018-19 with the Tennessee Titans.
Pees boasts two Super Bowls, one with the Ravens in 2012 and one with the 2004 New England Patriots.
Pees would bring legitimacy to the defense and help bridge the connection to Smith’s team. He may not have much longer in the league, but hiring him to start a new era and change the Falcons defense would make a solid choice.
The Falcons gave Smith a tremendous amount of flexibility to build his staff, and hopefully, he has found a mix that will bring the best out of each position group.