Fight or Flight: the ATL Falcons need a new coach. But who is right for the job?

Illustration by Myah Anglin |The Signal

Off seasons can be times of both joy and pain for franchises and their fans.

For Atlanta Falcons fans, the 2020 season may be classified as more apprehensive and excited. The Falcons finished 4-12, but this team probably had another two or three wins in them had Dan Quinn not struggled with clock management.

What happens when a team with as much talent as the Falcons have underperformed oh-so-terribly for multiple years?

More than likely, everyone in the building is gone, which is where the Falcons find themselves now—no head coach, no general manager, and an uncertain future ahead.

Who should fill the head coaching role and who shouldn’t?

Disclaimer: Anyone can be the “right guy” if the Falcons have faith in the coach, then I have faith in them.

Fight: Arthur Smith and Byron Leftwich

Typically, I hate the NFL trend towards “the next Sean McVay” type of young offensive mind. That said, I feel a little hypocritical and a little justified in my choices.

Arthur Smith has helped Ryan Tannehill have a career resurgence. Part of it has superstar Derrick Henry in the backfield, but I feel like Smith can succeed even without a Henry-like running back.

He strives for a balanced attack and knows the importance of having a running back. This balanced attack would roll over nicely from Matt Ryan’s end and into the future with a new quarterback.

Leftwich is someone I have been interested in a lot. The former quarterback may not have been calling plays for the Buccaneers this year, but he has traveled a long path around the league as a player, coach and now offensive coordinator. It would be a little bit of a gamble, but I think he would succeed here given his connections and patience with Arthur Blank.

Flight: Eric Bieniemy and Robert Saleh

Bieniemy and Saleh are likely the hottest two candidates in this year’s pool. Saleh has done a magnificent job with the 49ers defense, and Bieniemy has been under Andy Reid and has been a part of Patrick Mahomes’ success.

I can not see Bieniemy coming to Atlanta. I do not think the place and what we have in place as a franchise would be appealing to him, a transition taking place in a year or two at the most.

Saleh could be interested if he sees the defense as fixable and can trust someone’s offense, but I would somewhat prefer if he did not land here. One thing that Sean Mcvay did that I liked was focusing on the offense.

The offense is his idea; he works with whoever else, but he is deadest on the offense. He left defense to Wade Philips, and that worked well. Having an offensive head coach to replicate that formula of allowing the head coach to focus on offense and the defensive coordinator to concentrate on defense would suit the Falcons much better and avoid a Kyle Shanahan scenario.