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Almost two months after the firing of general manager Thomas Dimitroff, the Falcons are doing their due diligence in compiling their list of candidates as they prepare for the mid-December interview process.

Some candidates already received “feelers” from the Falcons and the Houston Texans. Also, some have been told that they are under consideration.
 

“We have done a lot of preparatory work on our general manager search,” Falcons president Rich McKay said. “We still have six weeks remaining until the NFL regular season concludes, and we will continue our preparation and research over that time period.”

Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, and Dasha Smith, the NFL’s executive vice president and chief people officer, met with Falcons owner Arthur Blank’s leadership committee for all business Nov. 11 in-person to discuss diversity and hiring practices.

The meetings were held in Buckhead, lasted for about six hours and were socially distanced, with some associates attending the meeting virtually over the internet.

“We are trying to be good listeners and understand where there are opportunities for improvement,” Blank said recently on the “Huddle and Flow” podcast on NFL.com. “We have great intentions. But intentions are one thing, we have to create … those intentions have to create into opportunities and opportunities into jobs filled.”

Miami executive Reggie McKenzie, San Francisco’s Martin Mayhew and former executives Jerry Reese and Ray Farmer are names that have been linked to the Falcons in several interviews conducted by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Also, McKenzie, Los Angeles Rams executive Brad Holmes, Chicago executive Champ Kelly and former Houston executive Rick Smith were reported to be on the Falcons’ short list by ESPN.

How the two positions are structured will be important to the candidates. Will the Falcons revert to a more traditional (Green Bay and Pittsburgh model), where the general manager and the personnel department picks the players and the coaches are left to coach and report to the general manager.

Or will they continue to use a co-team builder model in which the personnel men must share power with the coaching staff? The Falcons seem to prefer the co-builder model, as Blank said recently that Mike Smith was fired because the coaching staff didn’t help the personnel department more.

Under coach Dan Quinn and general manager Dimitroff, the coach had final say over the roster. But the coaches helping to draft players led to some high-profile busts -- such as Vic Beasley (first round, 2015), Jalen Collins (second round, 2015), Takk McKinley (first round, 2017) and linebacker Duke Riley (third round, 2017).

The structure will be important to the candidates.

After a 0-5 start, Quinn and Dimitroff were fired Oct. 11. After having time to reflect for a month, Blank went on the Huddle and Flow podcast, hosted by Steve Wyche and Jim Trotter, and articulated his vision for the position beyond what he did a month earlier at the news conference to discuss the firings.

Blank, who mostly was on to promote his book “Good Company,” was asked what he was looking for in his next general manager and coach. He wants someone to fit into the Falcons’ culture and the six core values discussed in the book.

“Beyond that, we are looking for somebody who is the very best at what they do,” Blank said. “So that we have the best opportunities to have the best roster put together. General manager, personnel department, the best coach and coaching staff. The ability as the head coach to not only have a vision of how you want to play the game, defend it, special-teams it (and play) offense.

“But you want to have somebody who can identify top talent as coordinators, top talent as position coaches. That’s an important task. Your success is not only going to be dependent totally on your ability, but the ability of a lot of other people you work in concert with.”

McKenzie, 57, senior personnel executive with the Dolphins, was the Raiders’ general manager from 2012-18. He was a finalist for the general manager position when Dimitroff was selected in 2008. At the time, the Falcons preferred Dimitroff because of his college scouting background. McKenzie, a Ron Wolf and Ted Thompson disciple in Green Bay, was a pro personnel director.

After not getting the Falcons’ job, the Packers made McKenzie the director of football operations over pro and college scouting.

At the Raiders, he inherited a team that was $34 million over the salary cap. He fired Hue Jackson as head coach and hired Dennis Allen, who currently is the Saints defensive coordinator and could be a head coaching candidate for the Falcons.

In three years, with his free agent and draft moves, the Raiders were 12-4 with their quarterback of the future in Derek Carr. McKenzie was named executive of the year in 2016 by the Pro Football Writers of America. Some of his top picks included Carr, Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper.

Former Falcons defensive end Jack Crawford and linebacker Nate Stupar were in McKenzie’s first draft class with the Raiders. He also found undrafted free agents like punter Marquette King.

A total of 28 of McKenzie’s draft picks are still playing in the NFL.

After the Raiders and McKenzie parted ways, he had five teams to pick from before joining the Dolphins. McKenzie and owner Mark Davis reportedly agreed to part way after Davis was able to land Jon Gruden, who wanted to pick his own general manager.

Jerry Reese, 57, was the Giants’ general manager from 2007-17.

The Giants won two Super Bowls with Reese’s players. He learned the ropes under the legendary Ernie Accorsi and had worked in the front office for 23 years when he was fired in 2017.

Ray Farmer, 46, played at Duke and in the NFL with the Eagles. His first personnel job with the Falcons as a scout from 2002-05. He was director of pro personnel director for the Kansas Chiefs from 2006-12.

He went on to be assistant general manager (2013) and general manager of the Cleveland Browns (2014-15).

Farmer, who’s been consulting with the Rams, interviewed for the Texans position last June.

Rams general manager Les Snead and former executive Joe Banner are listed as touting Farmer in document obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“The key to GM success is a combination of the ability to hire and manage an outstanding team,” Banner’s quote reads. “Excel as a superior talent evaluator and has a broad-based understanding of all strategies and components of the job.

“Most important is understanding not just how to evaluate players but to have studied and developed conviction on how to build a team and fit the pieces together that maximize the opportunities for significant success. Ray has experienced and excelled in every one of these areas. Has excellent people skills and has studied what separates the elements of success that drive his team building philosophies.”

Smith was general manager in Houston before losing a power struggle with Bill O’Brien, who torched his talented roster. Smith drafted DeAndre Hopkins and J.J. Watt.

Kelly has moved up from Chicago’s scouting direction to vice president of player personnel.

Holmes is the Los Angeles Rams’ director of college scouting, the same position that Dimitroff had with New England before he was pick.

“Our candidate slate will be very diverse,” Blank said. “After it’s very diverse and what have you, we’ll be very intentional about of making sure the candidate pool is rich with diverse candidates. Beyond that, we’ll interview everybody of the same color, whatever color you want to pick, red, blue, green, black, white. ... I don’t really care. We are going to look for the very best person.

“I’m never going to put myself in a position, our organization or that one person in a position where they are going to feel in any way shape of form that they got the position because of the color of their skin. That’s doing them a huge disservice. That’s the wrong message to send.”

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12 minutes ago, octoslash said:

I want a half-black, one quarter Hispanic,  one quarter Chinese, one-legged gay ex-con Muslim female with a heroin addiction. 

Football qualifications are secondary, because dammit it's time for social justice,  not Falcon wins.

 

I'm having a hard time imagining what that would look like....got to admit...I'm kind of scared 

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Beyond that, we’ll interview everybody of the same color, whatever color you want to pick, red, blue, green, black, white. ... I don’t really care. We are going to look for the very best person.

“I’m never going to put myself in a position, our organization or that one person in a position where they are going to feel in any way shape of form that they got the position because of the color of their skin. That’s doing them a huge disservice. That’s the wrong message to send.”

Find the best man or woman for the job. Blank whiffed on Dimi. Buddy failed us when he replaced the players he inherited from McKay and Reeves. Went 53-64 (.453). Two playoff berths in eight freakin years? Troffed!!! Blank better find the right GM. White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, Native American or TATF Message Board Contingent. I still vote for a TATF cabinet.

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It’s be nice to see all the people those guys drafted, and not just highlighting some of the best. In some sense, some of the greats they drafted are a matter of position in the draft. As an example, drafting Khalil Mack is a product of where you selected in the draft. If you did the same with Dimi, you’d have Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Grady Jarrett. 

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7 hours ago, shc said:

It’s be nice to see all the people those guys drafted, and not just highlighting some of the best. In some sense, some of the greats they drafted are a matter of position in the draft. As an example, drafting Khalil Mack is a product of where you selected in the draft. If you did the same with Dimi, you’d have Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Grady Jarrett. 

That’s a great point.

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Jesus Christ, just give me the best person for the job. I’m black as **** but all this diversity focus regarding this job is weird. I feel like I’m in the twilight zone every time I’ve read one of these GM articles that gets posted on here. This is football not some HR department. 
 

The only name that is somewhat interesting is Champ Kelly and I’d still have questions if he was the pick. 

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