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With Garrett out of picture, Falcons re-open coach search

Process could last through Super Bowl

By STEVE WYCHE

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 01/18/08

The Falcons have re-opened their coaching search after Dallas offensive coordinator Jason Garrett called owner Arthur Blank on Thursday morning to decline the team's head coach position after a second interview. Garrett decided to remain with Dallas, where he was promoted to assistant head coach.

"Jason is an impressive individual and a talented football coach," newly hired general manager Thomas Dimitroff said in a statement issued by the team. "I can tell you that we had great conversations and discussions with him [Wednesday]. He has a terrific future ahead of him in the National Football League and we wish him all the best."

Though Atlanta held a second interview with former Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan on Monday, the Falcons did not make him a job offer and still have not. Ryan has not received any other serious consideration for the two other teams with head coaching vacancies, and he could be available should Atlanta not find another candidate.

"Our focus today is no different than yesterday," Dimitroff said. "We are continuing our process of finding the best head coach for the Atlanta Falcons, and will concentrate all of our efforts and energies towards that goal."

Dimitroff said Tuesday that he hoped to have a coach in place "within four days," but he acknowledged to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday that the search process could go beyond this weekend possibly through the Super Bowl on Feb. 3.

Atlanta expressed interest in interviewing New York defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo but was denied permission last week while the Giants were preparing for a playoff game against Dallas.

Per league rules, should New York defeat Green Bay in the NFC Championship game Sunday, the Falcons would have to wait until after the Super Bowl to be granted permission to interview Spagnuolo or any other assistant coach whose team advanced to the Super Bowl.

An assistant coach on a Super Bowl team could have a second interview during the off week, if granted permission, but not an initial interview, according to Greg Aiello, senior vice president of public relations for the NFL.

Assistant coaches on teams that lose their conference championship games or whose seasons are finished are free to interview for a head-coaching job if their contracts expire or if their current employers grant permission.

By taking his time to choose a coach, Dimitroff could also be establishing his own identity as the top football decision maker. He might opt to speak to candidates that have not already been interviewed by the Falcons such as Minnesota defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, San Francisco assistant head coach Mike Singletary or former Baltimore head coach Brian Billick or revisit some of the prospects who were interviewed without him (Tennessee defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, Jacksonville defensive coordinator Mike Smith).

As for Garrett, the Falcons would not acknowledge that they made him a contract offer, but they did release the statement regarding Garrett's decision something they did not do after Ryan's second interview.

Garrett, former Steelers coach Bill Cowher, USC coach Pete Carroll and Colts assistant head coach Jim Caldwell told the Falcons, and other suitors, that they were not interested in the head-coaching job. Atlanta is searching to replace Bobby Petrino.

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I think we're at the point where we're almost going to have to wait until after the Super Bowl to get a new head coach, unless there's a darkhorse candidate that nobody except the FO knows about.

Not that it's a bad thing, but I guess it will mean that we'll have to deal with at least 2 more weeks of fake "Breaking News!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" threads...

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BlacksburgHokie (1/18/2008)
I think we're at the point where we're almost going to have to wait until after the Super Bowl to get a new head coach, unless there's a darkhorse candidate that nobody except the FO knows about.

Not that it's a bad thing, but I guess it will mean that we'll have to deal with at least 2 more weeks of fake "Breaking News!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" threads...

It depends on if the Giants lose on Sunday.

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