The Falcons’ 2015 schedule will include a road trip against the New York Giants. Imagine them going against a Mike Smith-coached defense.
Smith, who was let go as the Falcons’ head coach after the season and was a defensive assistant at previous NFL jobs in Baltimore and Jacksonville, may be a candidate for the Giants’ defensive coordinator vacancy. New York fired defensive coordinator Perry Fewell Wednesday after five years and Smith immediately was listed as a potential candidate by media outlets, including ESPN.
Smith coach defensive linemen and then linebackers with Baltimore (1999-2002) and went on to become a respected defensive coordinator for Jacksonville for five years (2003-07), before landing the Falcons’ job in 2008.
Smith almost certainly would prefer a head coaching job. But as a general rule, most fired head coaches usually need a “stopover” job first as a coordinator or assistant before being given another opportunity at a top. Rex Ryan, who was fired as the New York Jets’ coach and appears to be a strong candidate for the Falcons’ job, may be an exception to that rule.
The favored candidate for the Giants’ job could be Steve Spagnuolo, whose defense helped engineer an upset of then-unbeaten New England in the Super Bowl in 2008. Spagnuolo then was hired as head coach of the St. Louis Rams but was fired after three seasons and has since had jobs in New Orleans (defensive coordinator in 2012) and Baltimore (assistant, secondary 2013-14).
Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, a former Giants defensive coordinator (1993-96), also was is a potential candidate in New York. The Falcons’ have not said whether any of their assistant coaches, including Nolan and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, will be retained.
ESPN listed seven candidates for the Giants’ opening: Smith, Nolan, Spagnuolo, former Giants linebacker Pepper Johnson, the defensive line assistant in Buffalo; former Oakland head coach Dennis Allen; former Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz and San Francisco defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
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