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Spagnuolo's path to Super Bowl alters Falcons' search for coach


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Spagnuolo's path to Super Bowl alters Falcons' search for coach

By Len Pasquarelli

ESPN.com

(Archive)

Updated: January 21, 2008, 2:39 PM ET

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ATLANTA -- The New York Giants' victory at Green Bay on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game has sent the Atlanta Falcons' search for a new head coach into overtime.

One of two NFL franchises still without a coach, the Falcons were poised to formally request permission to interview Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo had New York lost on Sunday. But the overtime field goal by Lawrence Tynes that lifted the Giants to a 23-20 victory means that the Falcons cannot meet with Spagnuolo until after Super Bowl XLII in two weeks.

Early indications are that Falcons officials, who have interviewed seven current league assistants for their vacancy, are sufficiently interested in Spagnuolo to wait until after the Super Bowl.

In fact, in some league circles, it is believed that Spagnuolo, 48, is now the front-runner for the job.

The relationship between Spagnuolo and new Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, hired last week by owner Arthur Blank, apparently dates to when both worked in the World League in the early 1990s. Dimitroff will have considerable input into the choice of the new head coach.

League guidelines allow teams seeking a new coach to meet with assistants from the two Super Bowl teams in the week after the conference championship games, but only as a second interview. Since the Falcons did not conduct a first interview with Spagnuolo, he is off limits to the team this week, a league spokesman confirmed.

Atlanta did seek permission to interview Spagnuolo during the first week of the playoffs, but the Giants, who were preparing for a wild card matchup with the Tampa Bay Bucs at the time, denied that request because they didn't want to have any distractions.

In his first season as a coordinator, Spagnuolo's defense statistically ranked seventh in the league this year after being 25th in 2006. New York also led the NFL in sacks.

Before being hired as the Giants' defensive coordinator, Spagnuolo was the Philadelphia Eagles' linebackers coach for eight seasons (1999-2006).

The Falcons have interviewed seven candidates since Bobby Petrino resigned with three games remaining in his debut NFL season. Three men -- Dallas offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, and Jacksonville defensive coordinator Mike Smith -- have had second meetings with Atlanta officials.

Garrett opted to stay with the Cowboys, rejecting offers from the Falcons and Ravens, and netted a contract from Dallas owner Jerry Jones that makes him the NFL's highest-paid assistant coach. Indianapolis assistant head coach Jim Caldwell, who is said to have done well in his interview, withdrew his name from consideration last week.

The Falcons also met with Tony Sparano, who last week was hired as the Miami Dolphins' new coach, and defensive coordinators Jim Schwartz of Tennessee and Leslie Frazier of Minnesota.

Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.

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regurgitation of what he said on 790 this morning.....

only thing different/added:

looks like Lenny confirmed that we cannot talk to Spags until Feb. 4th

Lenny established possible connection between Dimitroff/Spags in World Football league.

I just hope we are allowed to speak with Spags' agent to confirm/deny that Spags has interest and would want Falcons job.

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kjc34 (1/21/2008)
if hes our man, lets just wait and get it right!!!!!

imo he did a great job against the packers!!:cool:

Not only the Packers, but the Cowbots too. His defenses shut down 2 of the best offenses in the NFC! God, I just hope the Redskins don't get in the way of bringing him to the Falcons.

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AkCraigg (1/21/2008)
First I've heard of a connection between Dimitroff and Spagnuolo. The only confirmed connection I had known about was Dimitroff and Schwartz. This is good to hear, really good to hear.

Yep, maybe that's why they requested to interview him so soon (because they knew Dimitroff was the guy they would pick)? I hop eit works out because I think he will be a great coach.

I wouldn't be mad if we got him, Frazier, or Ryan.

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Absolute (1/21/2008)
AkCraigg (1/21/2008)
First I've heard of a connection between Dimitroff and Spagnuolo. The only confirmed connection I had known about was Dimitroff and Schwartz. This is good to hear, really good to hear.

Yep, maybe that's why they requested to interview him so soon (because they knew Dimitroff was the guy they would pick)? I hop eit works out because I think he will be a great coach.

I wouldn't be mad if we got him, Frazier, or Ryan.

Agreed.

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scott24falcs (1/21/2008)
Absolute (1/21/2008)
AkCraigg (1/21/2008)
First I've heard of a connection between Dimitroff and Spagnuolo. The only confirmed connection I had known about was Dimitroff and Schwartz. This is good to hear, really good to hear.

Yep, maybe that's why they requested to interview him so soon (because they knew Dimitroff was the guy they would pick)? I hop eit works out because I think he will be a great coach.

I wouldn't be mad if we got him, Frazier, or Ryan.

Agreed.

I would actually be mad. I want Spags, but if he turned us down I could stomach Frazier

.

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drneckbone (1/21/2008)
I think the rule sucks "that you can only have a 2nd interview in the 2 weeks prior to the Super Bowl" It is not like they have not prepared for one another previously (3 weeks ago)

To tell you the truth, I had never heard this rule until we (the Falcons) wanted to interview someone from a Super Bowl team. I was under the impression that it was any interview (1st, 2nd,...).

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drneckbone (1/21/2008)
I think the rule sucks "that you can only have a 2nd interview in the 2 weeks prior to the Super Bowl" It is not like they have not prepared for one another previously (3 weeks ago)

What sucks is that we asked for interview with Spags, but the Giants denied it because they were preparing for their WC game. The rule essentially punishes us for the Giants not having a bye week prior to their 1st playoff game.

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I just found out he is a short guy - about 5' 7". I like that. Usually, short guys work harder. :hehe:

As for waiting, why not?

But who are the Redskins waiting for?

No matter, my biggest concern is our new GM - Dimtroff. Is he reliable? He's more important to us than the HC IMO.

We need to draft better, pick up FA's better, and spend our $ better.

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Paul Smith (1/21/2008)
I just found out he is a short guy - about 5' 7". I like that. Usually, short guys work harder. :hehe:

As for waiting, why not?

But who are the Redskins waiting for?

No matter, my biggest concern is our new GM - Dimtroff. Is he reliable? He's more important to us than the HC IMO.

We need to draft better, pick up FA's better, and spend our $ better.

You know Paul if you watched a little football like the NFL playoffs you would have a hard time missing the fact he was about that size when the cameras were on him.

on Dimitroff being reliable- well I would rather have him be right or psychic

.

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