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Falcons Offseason News

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Background on Falcons' coaching candidate Rex Ryan

By Vaughn McClure

The Atlanta Falcons might have their most anticipated interview of any head-coaching candidate on Tuesday when former New York Jets coach Rex Ryan comes to town.

Ryan is believed to be the favorite of Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who will make the final decision. Ryan's showmanship is sure to win over Blank, if it hasn't already. His brother, Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, says he has more football knowledge than any coach in the league.

The Falcons previously interviewed former Bills coach Doug Marrone, along with Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and current Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong. The Falcons have interviews lined up with Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

Here are some quick hits on Ryan:

Ryan is the son of former defensive guru Buddy Ryan, who earned fame for being the defensive coordinator and mastermind behind the "46" defense that helped the Chicago Bears win the 1985 Super Bowl.

Ryan, 52, is the twin brother of Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. They were born Dec. 13, 1962 in Admore, Oklahoma. Both were ball boys for the Bears when their father was coaching there.

Ryan attended Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois, the same school that produced WNBA star Tamika Catchings.

Ryan played defensive end at Southwestern Oklahoma State. He wore No. 75.

Ryan's first coaching gig was at Eastern Kentucky as a graduate assistant coach (1987-88). His first NFL coaching position was with the Arizona Cardinals as defensive line/linebackers coach (1994-95) under his dad. The Cardinals had the league's third-ranked defense in yards allowed per game.

When the Ravens won the Super Bowl during the 2000 season, Ryan was the defensive line coach and former Falcons coach Mike Smith was the assistant defensive line coach under Brian Billick.

When Ryan became the Jets head coach in 2009, he said he wanted to start his head-coaching career where his dad started his coaching career. Buddy Ryan entered the NFL as the Jets defensive line coach in 1968.

Ryan went 46-50 during his stint with the Jets before being fired after the 2014 season. He went 4-2 in the playoffs and made it to two AFC Championship Games. Ryan's defense ranked 1st, 3rd, 5th, 8th, 11th and 6th in total yards allowed from 2009-14.

Ryan previously went public with his battle against dyslexia.

Ryan underwent lap-band surgery to drop more than 100 pounds off his weight.

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Todd Bowles’ interview schedule rearranged

By Josh Weinfuss

TEMPE, Ariz. – Instead of heading to Atlanta on Thursday for an interview for the Falcons’ vacant head coach job, Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles will meet with the Chicago Bears, according to ESPN’s Josina Anderson.

Bowles will interview with San Francisco on Friday and meet with Atlanta on Saturday, according to a source.

ESPN NFL Nation reporter Vaughn McClure reported that all of Atlanta’s interviews have been postponed while team owner Arthur Blank attends to a personal family matter. Blank's mother died Wednesday and the funeral was scheduled for Thursday.

According to a source, interviews with Oakland or Buffalo are not scheduled.

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Falcons left tackle Jake Matthews recovering from Lisfranc injury

By Vaughn McClure

Atlanta Falcons left tackle Jake Matthews, who came on strong to end his rookie season, is recovering from a Lisfranc foot injury, according to multiple sources.

Matthews suffered the injury in the team's 34-3 season-ending loss to the Carolina Panthers. He played 61 offensive snaps in that game before exiting late in the fourth quarter.

Lisfranc injuries occur in the mid-foot. The recovery time varies, based on the severity of the injury -- sprain, dislocation, fracture or ligament rupture -- and if surgery is required. The most serious is a Lisfranc ligament rupture, which typically involves a fourth-month healing process. As one medical source explained, it's like an ACL tear to the knee, in regard to stability. The length of time for recovery isn't equal, of course.

The timing of the injury no doubt works in Matthews' favor as he'll have plenty of opportunity to recover before training camp. Since the Falcons will have a new head coach, they can begin offseason workouts on April 6, which could mean Matthews would likely miss the first part of those sessions.

Matthews, the sixth-overall pick of the 2014 NFL draft out of Texas A&M, started 15 games at left tackle after joining the Falcons as a right tackle. He suffered a high-ankle sprain in a season-opening win over the Saints and missed just one game due to the injury. Matthews' ankle eventually improved in the second half of the season, and he showed the ability to be an anchor for years to come.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Todd Bowles, Teryl Austin up next to make pitches in Falcons' coaching search

By Vaughn McClure

Former Jets coach Rex Ryan is, of course, the most recognized personality among the candidates for the Atlanta Falcons' head-coaching position. However, don't discount Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles or Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin as they prepare for their respective interviews with owner Arthur Blank and the Falcons' search contingent.

Ryan reportedly met with the Falcons for five hours Tuesday but left town and is scheduled to interview with the Buffalo Bills next. Austin is scheduled to interview with the Falcons today while Bowles' arrangements are all set for his Thursday interview.

The Falcons are set to interview Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles on Thursday.

Bowles and Austin are both minority candidates and have strong support from former NFL player John Wooten, the chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance which monitors the league's diversity policies, most notably the Rooney Rule regarding interviewing at least one minority for coaching or front-office vacancies.

"They are outstanding teachers, outstanding disciplinarians," Wooten said of Bowles and Austin. "Outstanding motivators. If you look at those two guys and if you saw them go against each other in England, you can see what they do and how they do it. In fact, these guys had been together at one point [with the Cardinals]. Teryl still has a home in Arizona.

"The point I'm making to you is when you look at both of those teams play, watch the toughness that they play with. That comes directly from the coach. These guys are scratch-your-eyeballs-out tough. That's what we see in Todd and Teryl, along with their ability to teach. When you're a tough guy, that doesn't mean you're going to fight everybody in the bar. It means everybody in the bar knows not to mess with you."

Bowles, 51, was a longtime safety with the Washington Redskins. He also was a college teammate of current Falcons special-teams coach Keith Armstrong at Temple under current Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. Bowles has coached with six different NFL teams and was once the interim head coach of the Dolphins for three games after Tony Sparano was fired. This season, Bowles' defense was the league's third best in the red zone (43.9 percent) and fifth best in points allowed per game (18.7 ppg.)

Austin, 49, has coached with four different teams and just finished his first year as a coordinator. The Lions boasted the league's top rushing defense (69.3 ypg.), the second-ranked total defense (300.9 ypg.), and the third-ranked scoring defense (17.6 ppg.).

"The thing that is so important, and it may be lost in today's football, is the ability to teach," Wooten said. "I've been around great coaches all my life. And therefore, I know teaching when I see it. I can sit and look at a football game and tell whether a player has been taught what he needs to be doing. As you look at the work of Teryl Austin and Todd Bowles and Winston Moss (Packers), they are great teachers."

Last week, the Falcons interviewed Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Ryan and former Bills coach Doug Marrone headlined the start of this week's interviews. The Falcons also interviewed internal candidate Armstrong, which satisfied their compliance with the Rooney Rule even prior to the interviews with Bowles and Austin.

Ryan, believed to be Blank's favorite, is looking into other options including in television. Many think Bowles is capable of making quite an impression on Blank with his presence and, thus, making a serious run at the job.

The Falcons boasted the league's worst defense in the league this past season, so a defensive-minded head coach makes plenty of sense. Any coach would inherit great offensive pieces in quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones which make the position arguably the most attractive of all vacancies.

"We think what it takes to fix Atlanta is the defense," Wooten said. "That's why we're pushing defensive people to Atlanta."

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Friday, January 9, 2015
Bart Scott: Let Rex Ryan run the show for Falcons

By Vaughn McClure

Bart Scott considers Rex Ryan a friend, although Scott experienced some "tough love" while playing under Ryan with both the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets.

One thing the former Pro Bowl linebacker appreciated about Ryan was how candid his ex-coach was about pretty much everything.

ny_g_ryan01jr_E_300x300.jpgBart Scott, a former NFL player under Rex Ryan, says the coach would do wonders for the Falcons' defense should he take over as head coach.

"He's brutally honest, but he also lets you know that he has your back," said Scott, now an analyst for CBS. "I mean he was able to come to me and say, 'Hey man, we need you to take a pay cut and you're my guy, so I need to come to you first before I go to L.T. (LaDainian Tomlinson) or Calvin Pace. And if you can't take the cut for me, I'm going to have to make some decisions.' He has the ability to be your friend but also understand that this is a business."

Scott believes Ryan would make a smart business decision by joining the Atlanta Falcons, if team owner Arthur Blank extends an offer. Ryan is believed to be Blank's favorite among a list of head-coaching candidates that also includes Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, former Bills coach Doug Marrone, Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong, Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Quinn is thought to be near the top of the list with Ryan. Austin and Bowles are scheduled to meet with the Falcons owner over the next two days after Blank had to postpone interviews following the death of his mother.

Although Ryan is getting looks from the 49ers and Bills, Scott firmly believes those jobs don't measure up to the Falcons.

"I think the Falcons are the best situation for Rex to go into," Scott said. "Come on, you're talking about fixing the defense. I'm sure people see how Matt Ryan has played. He hasn't had the defense to get him the ball back.

"Rex Ryan is a head coach/defensive coordinator. Let Rex run the show and start dialing up plays to knock Drew Brees out. Look at his history playing against Cam Newton. Rex knows how to keep Cam in the box. And Tampa Bay? Please. That would be like Homecoming."

Scott even has an idea of how Ryan might reshape the roster from a defensive standpoint. The Falcons are in dire need of a facelift after finishing last in the league in yards allowed per game (398.3 ypg) and tied for second-to-last in sacks (22), among other defensive deficiencies.

While in New York, the Jets' defense went from the 16th-ranked group in 2008 to first after Ryan took over in 2009.

"I think a quick fix for that Atlanta defense is [Jets linebacker] David Harris is up for free agency, and Rex has the ability to bring a guy like that over," Scott said. "He has the ability to bring a guy like [Jets linebacker] Calvin Pace over [via trade] who knows the system and lives in Atlanta. He can bring Harris there to run it if [sean] Weatherspoon can't stay healthy. If Weatherspoon is healthy, you move him to the spot I used to play and David Harris plays his spot.

"[safety] Dwight Lowery is already there and he was born and raised in the system, so I think you'll get more out of that player. But then Rex probably has the ability as well to bring a guy like [Cardinals cornerback] Antonio Cromartie to come over opposite Desmond Trufant and slide right in and get instant experience within the defense overnight."

Scott even sees a place for Tyson Jackson and Paul Soliai in Ryan's multiple scheme with 3-4 and 4-3 concepts. Remember, the Falcons invested $25 million guaranteed to sign Jackson and Soliai as free agents last season.

"Paul Soliai becomes Haloti Ngata or Kris Jenkins and Tyson Jackson becomes Mike DeVito," Scott said. "I can't say Tyson becomes Mo Wilkerson because he doesn't have the pass-rush ability. So you move Tyson over. Rex also has the ability to bring over a guy like [Jets nose tackle]Kenrick Ellis that can come over and slice Tyson Jackson to that stud end, that Mike DeVito-type end, to the formation. Then Rex just has to find a slippery guy like a Wilkerson who he can move inside. The parts that he needs are available and out there."

Of course, the Falcons are expected to target pass-rushers via free agency and the draft. Ryan, who started in the league as a defensive line coach, understands the importance of stockpiling pass-rushers.

Scott would say Ryan also understands the significance of a solid offense despite what critics might think.

"People always say he doesn't pay attention to offense but he just allows his guys to do their jobs," Scott said. "You think John Fox is going over there and saying, 'Hey Peyton [Manning], run this'? He's a defensive guy. But I guarantee he's going into the defensive room saying, 'Hey, you've got to play this technique.

"You think about a team like the Atlanta Falcons and the last time Rex's defensive system was paired with an offense with capabilities was the 2006 season when we had Steve McNair for the first time. That defense put 60 sacks up, struck fear in anybody in the NFL. Rex has never had a quarterback [as a head coach]. He's never had an offense. He's never had a veteran quarterback."

Rex Ryan would inherit a pretty accomplished one in Matt Ryan, who has passed for more than 4,000 yards each of the last four seasons and has completed 66 percent of his passes or better the past three years. In six seasons with the Jets, Ryan never had a quarterback complete better than 56.7 percent of passes in a season.

"Without a great quarterback, Rex was able to go to two AFC championships," Scott said. "So you give him a quarterback and just imagine how perennial a winner the Atlanta Falcons could be. Just imagine if you give the Falcons a couple of drafts and couple free agents what Rex could do with leads as far as terrorizing that division."

Falcons fans C-A-N-T W-A-I-T to see if it comes to fruition.

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Monday, January 12, 2015
Bowles to talk to Jets, Falcons again

By Josh Weinfuss
ESPN.com

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is one step closer to becoming an NFL head coach.

ny_a_bowles_300x200.jpgCardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who also met with the Bears and 49ers last week, will get second interviews for the Jets' and Falcons' head-coach openings, according to a source.

The Atlanta Falcons and New York Jets have scheduled second interviews with Bowles, according to a source. No other teams have requested a second meeting, a source said.

The Jets also have scheduled an interview with Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott on Wednesday, according to sources, while Atlanta will also give a second interview to Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is also high on both teams' lists, but he can't be offered a job until Seattle's season is over. Schefter reported that the Jets were prepared to fly to Seattle on Saturday night had the Seahawks lost to the Panthers to try to hire Quinn as their new coach.

Bowles spent last week crisscrossing the country, interviewing with the Jets on Wednesday, the Chicago Bears on Thursday, the San Francisco 49ers on Friday and the Falcons on Saturday.

His meeting with Chicago, which was conducted by new general manager Ryan Pace, went well, according to a source.

According to ESPN.com's Vaughn McClure, Bowles' interview with Atlanta lasted about five hours. McClure also reported that Bowles is considered to be one of Atlanta's top candidates.

Bowles, a former NFL defensive back for eight seasons with the Washington Redskins and 49ers, has enjoyed success as a coordinator. He has spent the past two seasons in that role for the Cardinals after doing the same for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Last season, Bowles' defense ranked sixth in the NFL in yards allowed per game and first against the run, allowing the fewest rushing yards in team history for a 16-game season (1,351). This season, the Cardinals were 24th in yards allowed per game and 13th in rushing yards allowed but still made a quite an impact as a playoff team. Bowles' crew boasted the league's fifth-best scoring defense (18.7 PPG) and third-best red zone percentage (43.9 percent).

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Monday, January 12, 2015
A player's perspective on Falcons' coaching candidate Todd Bowles

By Vaughn McClure

Arizona Cardinals free safety Rashad Johnson figured change was destined after the 2013 season when he heard whispers about defensive coordinator Todd Bowles being a hot head-coaching candidate.

It was only natural for Johnson to assume such chatter would intensify after this past season, considering how Bowles continued to impress the league with his defensive style.

"We messed with him about it a little bit here and there when we had our exit meetings," Johnson said. "We were like, 'Coach, what’s up? You’ve got your bags packed yet? Did you start moving things out?’ And he was like, 'Nothing’s set in stone yet; still a lot of interviewing to do.'

nfl_g_bowles11_300x300.jpgArizona's Rashad Johnson on defensive coordinator Todd Bowles: "He's really good at putting schemes together to make his guys successful."

"We definitely expect someone to get him."

That someone could be the Atlanta Falcons. Bowles appears to be at the top of owner Arthur Blank’s wish list along with Seattle Seahawks' defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. The Falcons interviewed both candidates, but can’t conduct a second interview with Quinn until the Seahawks are knocked out of the playoffs or until after the Super Bowl.

Bowles is available now, although no second interview was scheduled as of Sunday. He reportedly has a second interview coming with the San Francisco 49ers, along with strong interest from the Chicago Bears and New York Jets.

Johnson, who played at Alabama with Falcons receiver Julio Jones, talked about what he would tell his former college teammate if Bowles ends up in Atlanta.

"I would tell him, 'You guys are getting a **** of a coach,'" Johnson said. "I would tell him, 'You’re getting a really, really good guy. You guys are going to like his demeanor.'

'He’s not crazy yelling and this and that. He’s a laid-back guy. You’re going to respect him because, at the end of the day, he wants what everybody wants, and that’s to win."

Bowles, a former NFL defensive back for eight seasons with the Washington Redskins and 49ers, has enjoyed success as a coordinator. He has spent the past two seasons in that role for the Cardinals after doing the same for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Last season, Bowles' defense ranked sixth in the NFL in yards allowed per game, and first against the run, while allowing the fewest yards in team history for a 16-game season (1,351). This past season, the Cardinals were 24th in yards allowed per game and 13th in rushing yards allowed, but still made a quite an impact on a playoff team. Bowles’ crew boasted the league’s fifth-best scoring defense (18.7 ppg.) and third-best red-zone percentage (43.9 percent).

Bowles is known for his aggressive approach.

"Oh yeah, Coach Bowles is a very aggressive guy," Johnson said. "He loves the fact that he has guys on the back end that he can trust in certain situations. I think every game we were in this year that was close and we were on the field to win the game, it was a zero blitz. It got to the point that we’d be laughing on the field, because the middle linebacker would be waiting on the call and we’d be like, 'What you waiting on the call for? We know what it’s going to be. Just go ahead and make it. Just go ahead and get lined up.'

"He’s very aggressive, but at the same time, he knows how to mix it up because teams have learned that he’s a very aggressive guy. He’s just very smart about how he brings his pressures."

Johnson called Bowles a "players' coach" and put a little context behind the label. He recalled getting burned by Eagles receiver Jordan Matthews on a third-and-12 play for 23 yards back in Week 8.

"We were in zero coverage and I let Matthews beat me across my face," Johnson explained. "I came to the sideline and the DBs coach was out of his mind going crazy. Then Coach Bowles comes up to me and says, 'Hey man, I saw him give you the stick for the outside move. If he beat you on the out, that’s my fault. I put you in a position to play it from inside-out. Just don’t bite on the outside move.' And I was like, 'OK, Coach, I got you.'

"He tells me he made the call and put me in that position. You’ve got to respect that."

That’s not to say Bowles goes around absorbing blame for every misstep.

"It’s not like he’s going to let you slide," Johnson said. "He’s definitely going to let you know when you’ve done something wrong. I think the one thing we respect most is that he treats everyone the same. Whether you’re an All-Pro or a rookie, when we came in and watched film, he didn’t hold back in saying something to the All-Pro.

"He’s straight-forward and honest. And he's been able to take the personnel that he has and know how to put them in positions to exercise their strengths. If you can’t do something, he’s not going to call on you to do it. He’s really good at putting schemes together to make his guys successful. He's definitely a great coach."

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Monday, January 12, 2015
Falcons bringing back Teryl Austin for second interview

By Vaughn McClure

The Atlanta Falcons have set up a second interview with head-coaching candidate Teryl Austin for Thursday, a source told ESPN Insider Adam Schefter.

Austin, the defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions, interviewed with the Falcons on Friday. His original interview time was pushed back following the death of Falcons owner Arthur Blank's mother.

He also has a first interview with the Chicago Bears on Tuesday. Austin, 49, just completed first year as a coordinator.

Austin is the second known candidate to be asked back for a second interview. Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles will meet with the Falcons again following his five-hour first interview on Saturday.

Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn appears to be atop the Falcons' list, but Quinn can't go through a second interview until the Seahawks are eliminated from the playoffs or until after the Super Bowl. The New York Jets reportedly want Quinn as their next head coach, and Quinn is a New Jersey native.

Bowles, who obviously impressed during his interview, has privately expressed a strong desire to coach the Falcons. But Bowles also has a second interview coming with the Jets and is drawing strong interest from the San Francisco 49ers and the Bears. He won't want to wait around for one team to make an offer and possibly risk the chance of being shut out of a head-coaching opportunity.

It will be interesting to see if the Falcons maintain a methodical approach to the process with the possibility that a preferred candidate such as Bowles could get away. Blank favored former Jets coach Rex Ryan, but Ryan obviously didn't want to wait for the Falcons to make a decision and instead signed with the Buffalo Bills.

The Falcons have to weigh whether they want to be patient with Quinn or if they figure he is destined for the Jets.

Blank and the search committee also interviewed former Bills coach Doug Marrone, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase and internal candidate Keith Armstrong.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Tapp gives player's perspective on Falcons candidates Teryl Austin, Dan Quinn

By Vaughn McClure

Veteran defensive end Darryl Tapp became familiar with the compassionate side of Teryl Austin when Tapp was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in 2006 and Austin was the team’s defensive backs coach.

The two lived in the same neighborhood in suburban Issaquah, Washington, so Tapp grew accustomed to seeing Austin outside of the facility.

"Him and his wife always kept tabs on me," said Tapp, a former second-round pick from Virginia Tech. "Going from Virginia, where I grew up, to Seattle, it was really my first time away from home, so he just always checked to see how I was doing. Things like that make you feel good as a player. Not only was he a coach, but he also was a mentor."

Tapp also experienced the fiery side of Austin as recently as this past season. The two were reunited when Tapp signed with the Lions last March, just a few months after Austin was hired by the Lions as a first-time defensive coordinator.

"I think it was last game against Chicago this year, he ripped into us at halftime because we weren’t playing up to our ability," Tapp recalled. "Don’t mistake his kindness for weakness. That guy, he definitely has it all. And it was a true honor to play for him this year."

Tapp is not surprised Austin has become a popular name for head-coach vacancies across the league. Austin was due to arrive in Atlanta from Arizona Wednesday for a second interview with the Falcons following a first interview with the Chicago Bears on Tuesday. He has a chance to win over Falcons owner Arthur Blank, and the talk around the league is Austin delivers quite an impressive presentation.

nfl_a_lynch1x_300x300.jpgDan Quinn uses boxing as part of his training methods. Here, Quinn jokingly squares off with the Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch.

But Tapp is also familiar with another highly regarded head coach candidate. Tapp played under Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn when Quinn was the team’s defensive line coach in 2009. Quinn emerged as the favorite for the Falcons job after he delivered the most impressive first interview of all the candidates.

"Coach Quinn is a fighter," Tapp said. "That’s the first thing I’ll always remember about `DQ.’ He came to Seattle my last year and he was, at that point, the best defensive line coach I ever had.

"Coach Quinn always used to show us film on boxers; Mike Tyson, Sonny Liston and all those guys. In the offseason, we did work on our hands from MMA fighting [drills] to help us with our pass rush. And he always taught us how to be better players, to use our individual talents. A lot of coaches in this league do stuff in a cookie-cutter kind of format. Coach Quinn, like Coach Austin, he looks at what your attributes are and what makes you individually successful."

Tapp pointed to current Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett as an example of Quinn shaping and molding a raw talent into an impact talent.

"Michael Bennett was an undrafted free agent my last year in Seattle, when Coach Quinn got on, and I still remember him working with Michael every day to get this guy’s pass-rush ability up to where he could be a great player," Tapp said. "Bennett was able to make the team, but they had to [waive] him and Tampa Bay snatched him up, where he went and made plays. But fortunately he was able to get back to Seattle and work again with Coach Quinn, and now he’s taken off.

"Just see Coach Quinn work with guys to make them better is probably the thing I appreciate the most about him. I actually still have cut-ups of films that Coach Quinn made for me that year in Seattle. I’ve got them on my iPad and I watched them during the season."

In other words, Tapp believes Quinn has the ability to immediately fix a listless Falcons pass rush and an anemic Falcons defense. His Seahawks finished this season ranked first in yards allowed per game (267.1), first in passing yards allowed per game (185.6) and first in points allowed per game (15.9).

Austin’s defense finished first in rushing yards allowed per game (69.3), second in total yards allowed per game (300.9) and tied for second in points allowed per game (17.6).

"I think the best thing that both of them do is they work and use the talent they have on the team and make the scheme where it’s going to put guys in position to make plays," Tapp said. "Those guys can adapt to any situation.

"The definitely both deserve to be head coaches. It’s kind of surreal, though, to see them both as position coaches. I’ve seen the maturation process. Now they’re legitimate head-coaching candidates."

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Dan Quinn is Falcons' top candidate

By Adam Schefter
ESPN

Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is the favorite to land the Atlanta Falcons' head-coaching job, according to league sources, now that former Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has landed in New York as the Jets' coach.

Atlanta is interviewing Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin on Wednesday, so he will have his chance to impress the Falcons and potentially try to change their minds. But sources close to and familiar with the Falcons' situation believe Atlanta is willing to wait for Quinn, and Quinn is willing to wait for them, making him the leading contender at this time to become the Falcons' next coach.

Quinn and the Falcons already have met once, and they will be allowed to do so next week, whether the Seahawks win or lose Sunday's NFC Championship Game. There is a window next week for teams that have already interviewed candidates to interview them again. Under the rules, theDenver Broncos cannot interview Quinn, but the Falcons and Chicago Bears would be able to do so.

Perhaps the biggest advantage and lure that Atlanta has is its quarterback, Matt Ryan. His presence makes the Falcons' job arguably the most appealing one available.

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Monday, January 19, 2015
Kyle Shananan should be pleased to unite with Matt Ryan, when it happens

By Vaughn McClure


According to ESPN Insider Adam Schefter's report, the Atlanta Falcons have an outline for their future with the additions of Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn as head coach and Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator imminent.

Quinn, of course, would bring an aggressive defensive mentally to the franchise with the way the Seahawks have suffocated opponents the past few seasons. Give Quinn the right defensive personnel, with more talented pass-rushers up front, and the league's worst defense could make a dramatic turnaround in 2015.

As for Shanahan and the offense, his job should be a lot easier thanks to the presence of quarterback Matt Ryan. Shanahan spent this past season dealing with drama with the Cleveland Browns' organization. He got the most out of Brian Hoyer, then was asked to virtually perform a miracle in getting rookie Johnny Manziel to become an NFL starter. The result was Shanahan turning in his resignation because he disagreed with the Browns' decision to move forward with Manziel.

Prior to the soap opera with the Browns, Shanahan spent three seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins under his father, Mike. His first season there (2010), he had veterans Donovan McNabb and Rex Grossman as his quarterbacks. His last (2013), was a disastrous 3-13 campaign with Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins as his signal-callers. The first quarterback Shanahan had as an NFL coordinator was former Falcon Matt Shaub while with the Houston Texans, and Shaub lead the league in passing yards under Shanahan in 2009.

Although there was a point in time when many would have claimed Shanahan had a gem with Griffin III, those days quickly faded. Now Shanahan, once he's hired by the Falcons, has a chance to work with a true franchise quarterback in Ryan, who has thrown for 4,000-plus yards the past four seasons. Ryan is coming off a disappointing season, but a fresh start with Shanahan could be just what he needs to re-establish himself. And Shanahan will have to re-adjust after devoting his attention to mobile quarterbacks such as Griffin III and Manziel.

Of course, the Falcons have to upgrade some of the parts around Ryan and Pro Bowl receiver Julio Jones. Shanahan has had 1,000-yard rushers in Alfred Morris with the Redskins and Steve Slaton with the Texans. He even had a nice tandem with the Browns this past season in Terrence West andIsaiah Crowell, so Shanahan certainly understands the value of establishing the running game.

The Falcons also need a pass-catching tight end and another receiver, with Roddy White coming toward the end of his career.

Shanahan is well-respected around the league for his football mind. We'll see if he helps take Ryan and the offense to another level.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Matt Ryan replaces Tom Brady at Pro Bowl

By Vaughn McClure

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was added to the Pro Bowl roster on Monday to replace Super Bowl-bound Tom Brady of the New England Patriots.

It marks the third career Pro Bowl selection for Ryan, who also went to the Pro Bowl in 2010 and 2012. Ryan joins Michael Vick as the only quarterbacks in franchise history to be named to the Pro Bowl three times.

Ryan finished the 2014 season completing 415 of 628 passes for 4,694 yards with 28 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He had a passer rating of 93.9 and finished ninth in total QBR.

Ryan joins teammates Julio Jones and Devin Hester as Pro Bowlers. Jones will not play in the game after suffering a late-season oblique injury.

The Pro Bowl takes place Sunday at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Falcons' coaching staff starting to take form

By Vaughn McClure

The Atlanta Falcons don't even have their head coach yet, officially. However, the pieces of the coaching staff are starting to fall in place with each passing day.

Once Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is named the Falcons' next coach after the Super Bowl, as expected, he'll have at least three holdovers from the previous coaching staff. Wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie, who was the assistant head coach under Mike Smith, is expected to return next season. Robiskie, 60, has been with the Falcons since 2008 and has coached in the league since 1982, so his experience is invaluable, particularly for a first-time head coach as Quinn is about to become.

Not to mention Robiskie has a close bond with receivers Julio Jones, Roddy White and Harry Douglas; a father-like presence his players respect.

As reported by Fox Sports Tuesday, the Falcons also plan to bring back special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong as well as defensive line coach Bryan Cox. Both Armstrong and Cox have coached with Quinn in the past.

The Falcons parted ways with both coordinators when offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter asked out of his contract to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan packed his things and drove cross country to his home in Denver. Nolan is talking to the Arizona Cardinals about a position.

Offensive line coach Mike Tice also bolted for the Oakland Raiders after the Falcons attempted to block him from leaving the staff. It will be interesting to see how the team proceeds with assistant offensive line coach Wade Harman, who probably would be a capable replacement for Tice and a guy who has familiarity with the current group of offensive linemen.

The Falcons have a least one new assistant coach set to join Quinn. ESPN Insider Adam Schefter reported Kyle Shanahan will be the team's new offensive coordinator.

It is unclear exactly which coach Quinn has in mind for his defensive coordinator. He could pluck someone from the Seahawks' staff, if Pete Carroll allows it. Linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr.'s only experience as a defensive coordinator was at Hamilton High School in Los Angeles. Defensive pass game coordinator Rocky Seto was USC's defensive coordinator/secondary coach in 2009.

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I know huh but you know me I'm still going to be posting chit in here, lol!!

yeah. I'll be reading everyday. Just ready for the new season to begin :(

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Saturday, January 24, 2015
Atlanta wants Raheem Morris; Kirk Olivadotti tells people he's staying

By John Keim

From the time Joe Barry was named the Washington Redskins’ defensive coordinator, I’d heard that it was likely that Kirk Olivadotti would be the only defensive assistant returning. And that meant it was far from a lock that secondary coach Raheem Morris would be back.

Indeed, The Washington Post reported that the Atlanta Falcons had been granted permission to speak with Morris, which meshes with what a source said Friday that the Falcons were interested in him and that the Redskins were interested in bringing in a new secondary coach. Once a team grants a coach permission to interview for a similar position elsewhere, it's highly unlikely they'd return to their old team.

Also, one source with knowledge of the situation said Olivadotti was told he’d return this season. The Redskins already had informed line coach Jacob Burney and outside linebackers coach Brian Baker that they would not be back. Both were brought on board by former defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. Olivadotti was as well, but he also was with previous Redskins' defensive staffs -- he's been a part of five other regimes in Washington -- and is not considered tied to a particular coach.

Though Barry was hired in Tampa Bay by Morris in 2009 after Barry's two-year stint as Detroit’s defensive coordinator, that doesn’t mean it was a slam dunk he’d be retained. Morris interviewed for the defensive coordinator position and, after four years in Washington, it’s clear he had gone as far as he could in Washington. The Post reported Morris' position in Atlanta would give him more responsibility than just as a position coach.

Atlanta is officially still without a head coach, with Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn expected to be hired after the Super Bowl.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015
Sources: Wade Harman to be Falcons' tight ends coach

By Vaughn McClure

The Atlanta Falcons will name former assistant offensive line coach Wade Harman the team's next tight ends coach, according to multiple league sources.

Harman, who worked alongside offensive line coach Mike Tice last season, came to the Falcons in 2014 following 15 seasons as the Baltimore Ravens' tight ends coach. He is credited with helping the development of former two-time Pro Bowler Todd Heap and working with three-time Super Bowl champ Shannon Sharpe.

Harman will replace Chris Scelfo, who obviously won't be back with the Falcons. As it looks now, the Falcons will retain four assistant coaches from Mike Smith's staff under expected new head coach Dan Quinn: special-teams coordinator Keith Armstrong, wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie, defensive line coach Bryan Cox and Harman.

Kyle Shanahan will be named the Falcons' new offensive coordinator, while there is a Washington Post report about one-time Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris being Quinn's defensive coordinator.

The Falcons need a makeover at the tight end position, so Harman could help with the process. The team didn't have the luxury of Tony Gonzalez last season, so tight end wasn't a position of strength. Levine Toilolo showed some improvement toward the end of the season, yet his numerous drops early on stunted his growth. Not to mention there wasn't much production from the second tight end, Bear Pascoe.

The Falcons are destined to target a pass-catching tight end either through free agency or the draft. One intriguing name is veteran Owen Daniels, who caught 48 passes for the Ravens this past season. Daniels played under Shanahan with the Houston Texans and caught a career-high 70 passes in Shanahan's offense during the 2008 season.

Toilolo, who caught 31 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns this past season, is signed through 2016. Pascoe is set to become a free agent.

The Falcons are unlikely to announce any coaching moves until Quinn, the Seattle Seahawks' defensive coordinator, is introduced as head coach following the Super Bowl.

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Incoming Falcons coach Dan Quinn talks it up at Super Bowl

By Vaughn McClure | January 27, 2015 8:45:22 PM PST

Dan Quinn, the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks, has plenty of preparation ahead for Sunday's matchup with the New England Patriots. He has a chance to defeat Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in consecutive Superbowls.

Dan Quinn expects to bring some of the coaching vibes he picked up from Pete Carroll with him to Atlanta.

Naturally, Quinn also has to deal with the questions regarding his next step: becoming the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. Quinn is set to be introduced as the 16th head coach in Falcons history after the Super Bowl. His coaching staff is already taking shape.

NFL rules prohibit Quinn from speaking about the Falcons. He was asked about how he's able to focus on the Super Bowl with all the speculation surrounding him.

"The interview process allows us to go through it during the bye," Quinn told the media Tuesday in Arizona. "I am appreciative of how the NFL does that. It is pretty easy to get right back into focus to play in this situation so it is easy to get back."

Quinn was asked about wanting to lead a bigger group of players -- of course, a reference to moving from defensive coordinator to head coach.

“I think that is where my background lies," Quinn said, referring to leadership. "To be honest, I think the head coach orchestrates a bit of everything from the assistant coaches and the messaging that gets all the way through. As I go through all of the process, everyone has their own idiosyncrasy regarding the team. The head coach is where we got the vibe from, and that is the case here with Pete Carroll."

Quinn talked about the importance of being fundamentally sound and emphasized the need for strike-zone tackles. He appreciated hearing how his players raved about him being a great communicator.

"I would say one of the things I like and enjoy the most about our team is the ability to connect with the players," Quinn said. "They are all different. How we find ways that motivate one guy might be different than how we motivate another guy. What are some of the unique things for one guy is unique for somebody else. It is honestly one of the best things about coaching is getting to know all of these guys and finding out what makes them go."

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Falcons could keep running backs coach Gerald Brown

By Vaughn McClure | January 29, 2015 12:15:42 PM PST

Another member of the previous Atlanta Falcons coaching staff could remain with incoming head coach Dan Quinn.

Running backs coach Gerald Brown, who interviewed for the same position in Oakland, is not going to join the Raiders' staff, according to sources -- an indication that Brown could be retained by the Falcons.

If that comes to fruition, Brown would join special-teams coordinator Keith Armstrong, defensive line coach Bryan Cox, wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie and tight ends coach Wade Harman (formerly the assistant offensive line coach) as holdovers from Mike Smith's staff.

Brown just completed his seventh season with the Falcons. Two of his backs have made the Pro Bowl: running back Michael Turner (2008, 2010) and fullback Ovie Mughelli (2010).

The Falcons are likely to upgrade the running back position this offseason. That could mean the release of veteran Steven Jackson, which would create a $3.75 million cap savings for the Falcons. Brown spent plenty of time getting rookie Devonta Freeman up to speed this past season, and Freeman should be a big part of the team's plans moving forward.

Quinn, who is expected to be introduced as the Falcons' 16th head coach next Tuesday, has the bulk of his staff already in place. Besides the aforementioned holdovers, Kyle Shanahan is set to become the offensive coordinator and Richard Smith the defensive coordinator. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris is joining the Falcons as the assistant head coach/defensive backs.

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Friday, January 30, 2015
Falcons owner Arthur Blank elaborates on coaching search, front-office structure

By Vaughn McClure

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank took a few moments to address a variety of topics during a phone interview with ESPN.com on Friday.

First and foremost, Blank discussed the process of the coaching search, which is just about complete. The Falcons are expected to introduce Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn as the next coach as early as Tuesday, with Quinn set to coach in Sunday's Super Bowl. The Falcons cannot sign Quinn to a contract or introduce him as the new coach until the Seahawks complete their season.

nfl_a_blank_sk_300x200.jpgAtlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank has restructured the team's front-office structure.

"What's different this time around is we ended up with one or more coaching candidates that are going to be playing on Sunday," Blank said. "That by itself and the NFL rules, which I agree with, are very specific. ... Certainly it's a lot more challenging. The patience of our organization was certainly really tested. But we felt we needed to make the right long-term decision, not the right short-term decision."

Blank was asked if he decided at some point during the process that a defensive-minded coach would be the best fit moving forward.

"No," Blank responded. "It's not about offense or defense. You're really hiring a CEO for a football team and a leader who can hire the best coordinators and position coaches. Whatever side of the ball, you expect the head coach to be the head coach of the offense and the defense and the special teams. And that was one of our goals. Whatever history he may have had was interesting, but not something that affected the process."

Blank was asked how much power the new coach would have over the 53-man roster.

"I don't like the word power," he said. "I don't like to use it personally. I don't like to use it professionally. What we want to build is an organization that depends on partnership and collaboration. And I think the head coach candidate that was selected is a firm believer in that and has demonstrated that over a long period of time.

"If you look at the most successful franchises -- these two that are playing Sunday (New England and Seattle) and others in the history of the NFL -- you'll see a tremendous amount of closeness, collaboration and partnership between personnel and coaching. And when the draft pick is made, the team is taking the name off the board. When there's a free-agent signing, then the team is signing that player."

Speaking of power, the Falcons did some front-office restructuring earlier in the month, taking away general manager Thomas Dimitroff's responsibilities related to the draft and free agency and putting the onus on assistant general manager Scott Pioli in those areas. From the outside look in, it looks like Blank lost some confidence in Dimitroff's ability to evaluate talent.

"Absolutely not," Blank said when asked if he lost confidence in Dimitroff. "I think it's an opportunity for Thomas to continue to use his talents, and he will from a talent-evaluation standpoint. He'll be heavily involved. But he'll be more dependent on Scott Pioli and his talents. And their ability to work together is a credit to both of them. Now, they've each worked for each other, which is unique in an organization.

"Again, I think the word power is not appropriate. We have two people with extraordinary backgrounds in personnel. Scott, in my opinion, was underutilized in his first year with us. He's got a rich background from New England. And draft-wise, he got very high grades from Kansas City, although he's obviously not there. And Thomas was named executive of the year twice in the NFL. It's clearly a matter of how do we maximize the talent that we have in the building and take advantage of the best resources that we have to produce the best product we can. I think this alignment allows Thomas to still be heavily involved, where he should be, but it allows Scott to run the draft process or the free-agency process. And obviously, they're both dealing with the new head coach."

Dimitroff and the new coach will report separately to Blank. Pioli will report to Dimitroff.

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Friday, January 30, 2015
Dan Quinn discusses biggest coaching influences

By Vaughn McClure

Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who is expected to be introduced as the Atlanta Falcons' next head coach Tuesday, has drawn his share of media attention this week leading into Sunday's Super Bowl.

ESPN.com's Josh Weinfuss caught up with Quinn and asked which coaches have had the biggest influence on him as he prepares to take the next step up the coaching ranks.

ny_a_quinn_mb_300x200.jpgDan Quinn's coaching influences reach back to his days at Hofstra.

"Oh man, there's been a bunch," Quinn said. "When I first started coaching in college, there was a guy by the name of Joe Gardi. He was the defensive coordinator for the [New York] Jets during their early 1980s when they had the 'Sack Exchange.' We had a terrific staff there at Hofstra. So when we were first getting going there into coaching, what a great mentor [Gardi was] for all the young guys who were a part of his staff."

Gardi, who died in 2010, was the head coach at Hofstra from 1990-2005. Quinn coached at Hofstra from 1996-2000, starting as the defensive line coach and ending as the defensive coordinator.

Quinn went from Hofstra to the pros, catching on with the San Francisco 49ers in 2001 as a defensive quality control coach.

"When I first got into the NFL, my first coaching job was with the 49ers and Steve Mariucci was the coach," Quinn recalled. "There was guy there by the name of Bill McPherson who had been on the 49ers' staff for a long time and won five Super Bowls with them. He was probably the biggest influence on me early on, from a defensive standpoint. At the time, he was a 70-year-old guy who took a 30-year-old guy under his wing and helped train and teach me. So I had a great appreciation for that."

Quinn was with the 49ers from 2001-04, ending as the defensive line coach. He then went on to become the defensive line coach of the Miami Dolphins.

"I went to the Miami Dolphins and learned a great deal from Nick Saban, who was the coach there at the time," Quinn said.

Of course, Quinn couldn't go without mentioning his current boss, Pete Carroll.

"Coach Carroll has had a huge impact on me," Quinn said. "[He's] always finding, 'Is there another way to do it? How else can we challenge? How else can we go?'"

Carroll's coaching style has helped the Seahawks make it to consecutive Super Bowls, with one title already under their belts. Maybe Quinn can bring the same time of coaching influence to the Falcons.

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