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Falcons Should Avoid Another Henning (Bill Shanks)


trudweathers
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Atlanta Falcons should avoid another Henning

Thirty-two years ago, the Atlanta Falcons fired the best head coach they had ever had. Leeman Bennett had taken the Falcons to the playoffs in three of the six seasons he coached the team, but it was not enough.

The Falcons had gone 52-99-4 in the first 12 seasons of the franchise before Bennett took over. Norb Hecker, Norm Van Brocklin, Marion Campbell and Pat Peppler all had failed, while Bennett went 46-41 from 1977 through 1982. Comparatively, the Falcons should have built a statue for Bennett instead of firing him.

Dan Henning was picked as Bennett’s replacement. Henning had been the offensive coordinator for Joe Gibbs and the Super Bowl XVII-winning Washington Redskins. Henning was the hotshot assistant coach in the NFL, destined to get a head coaching job.

Instead, Henning was a disaster. He ended Steve Bartkowski’s tenure as Atlanta’s quarterback, and the Falcons went backwards instead of making progress. Henning was 22-41-1 between 1983 and 1986.

Ask any Falcons fan, and they’ll tell you that firing Bennett was a huge mistake and mainly because his successor was much like the first four coaches in Atlanta’s history -- a failure.

Now fast forward to today, as the Falcons are trying to replace the best head coach they have ever had. Mike Smith deserved to be fired, but not if the Falcons kept around the man who hired him -- general manager Thomas Dimitroff.

Arthur Blank is making a mistake in keeping Dimitroff, who constructed the roster that led to two dismal seasons. A clean sweep was necessary, but for some reason, Dimitroff is still around.

The Falcons lost out on Rex Ryan, reportedly because Ryan did not feel Dimitroff was in his corner during last week’s five-hour interview. It seems they are now only considering current NFL assistant coaches, hotshots who seem destined to get a head coaching job somewhere.

Maybe Todd Bowles, Teryl Austin or Dan Quinn -- the reported finalists -- will make a great head coach. Maybe we will apologize to them if they are successful for doubting their ability in the first place.

Remember, not many people knew who Smith was when he was hired as head coach in 2008. He had been Jacksonville’s defensive coordinator, and much like these coaches, he was one of the hot names on the coaching candidate board.

But there is one difference. Seven years ago not many people cared who was hired as Atlanta’s coach. The Falcons had just come off the worst season in their history -- with a scandal involving quarterback Michael Vick and a less-than-one-season stint of head coach Bobby Petrino that left fans numb. It probably wouldn’t have mattered who got the job, as long as it was somebody brand new.

Blank said he needs Smith’s replacement to get the team where Smith had failed to go -- the Super Bowl. He needs the next head coach to take this team to the next level.

At the same time, and let’s be honest, Blank also needs someone to excite the fan base, which will soon be asked to write a big check for a personal seat license at the new dome. That’s why Ryan was such a good candidate. He could have possibly filled both requirements.

Now the Falcons are evidently left with these assistants. The search firm Blank hired obviously has not come up with a better candidate who has head coaching experience, so he’s left to choose from the flavors-of-the-month.

Maybe they’ll be fine. Maybe they’ll be the next best head coach the Falcons have ever had. But don’t blame some fans who remember the 1980s and hope the next coach won’t be the next Henning.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com

Edited by trudweathers
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Bill Shanks is a bona fide idiot.

He's the dumbazz who said that Jason Heyward was lazy.

Take anything that mouth-breathing, window-licking fool writes with a salt lick block.

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Heyward was lazy. Constant reports of being late and missing practice....probably a major factor on why he isn't a Brave anymoree

He said Heyward was lazy as a fielder....arguably the best right fielder in MLB.

Shanks is a dumbazz....a major factor why Heyward isn't a Brave any longer is because his offensive stats didn't and don't support a Freeman-type contract he and his agent were looking for. There are still major holes in his swing.

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Bill Shanks is a bona fide idiot.

He's the dumbazz who said that Jason Heyward was lazy.

Take anything that mouth-breathing, window-licking fool writes with a salt lick block.

Not familiar with Shanks and maybe he is an idiot, but I see a lot of truth in what he has written in the article. Don't you?

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Not familiar with Shanks and maybe he is an idiot, but I see a lot of truth in what he has written in the article. Don't you?

It's a Captain Obvious article.

"Atlanta Falcons Should Avoid Another Dan Henning"-Wow. Really, Bill? That's exactly what we were shooting for, bringing in a less successful head coach than the one we just let go.

I just don't understand what point Shanks was trying to make.

The pool most teams draw from is virtually the same: Currently successful coordinators on good teams or retread head coaches who more than likely have had success at some point.

If Shanks knows of a different category of candidates to draw from where there is guaranteed success he should use the red phone to call Artie at Flowery Branch. I'm sure they'd pick that guy.

It's a thinly-veiled article written to give Shanks the ability to say later on "I TOLD YOU GUYS SO! REMEMBER WHEN I WROTE THAT ARTICLE ABOUT HOW RISKY LETTING SMITH GO WAS?"

Shanks is a gutless hack.

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It's a Captain Obvious article.

"Atlanta Falcons Should Avoid Another Dan Henning"-Wow. Really, Bill? That's exactly what we were shooting for, bringing in a less successful head coach than the one we just let go.

I just don't understand what point Shanks was trying to make.

The pool most teams draw from is virtually the same: Currently successful coordinators on good teams or retread head coaches who more than likely have had success at some point.

If Shanks knows of a different category of candidates to draw from where there is guaranteed success he should use the red phone to call Artie at Flowery Branch. I'm sure they'd pick that guy.

It's a thinly-veiled article written to give Shanks the ability to say later on "I TOLD YOU GUYS SO! REMEMBER WHEN I WROTE THAT ARTICLE ABOUT HOW RISKY LETTING SMITH GO WAS?"

Shanks is a gutless hack.

I see your point, Tim. I'm gonna write an article entitled; "Falcons Should Hire The Next Bill Belichick!" biggrin.png

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I do think the win now mentality of Blank, TD and Pioli will be the undoing of whoever is our new coach. We are not the 2012 team. We have major holes to fill and it's going to take time to build a contender. Unfortunately, the new HC won't be given time by those trying to save their own necks and those trying to sell psl's.

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