UPDATE: Falcons should talk to John Fox before making decision

John Fox, fired by Denver Monday, led both the Broncos and Carolina to Super Bowl appearances. (Getty Images)

John Fox, fired by Denver Monday, led both the Broncos and Carolina to Super Bowl appearances. (Getty Images)

John Fox, fired by Denver Monday, led both the Broncos and Carolina to Super Bowl appearances. (Getty Images)

UPDATE: 6:15 p.m.

Everything just changed.

The Denver Broncos have fired coach John Fox. While I’m generally not in favor of a team rushing into hiring a coach who was just fired by another team — see: Rex Ryan — the Falcons absolutely need to speak to Fox before making any decisions. He is that good a coach and doesn’t bring the circus element that Ryan does.

Never mind about Denver’s fizzle this season and Sunday’s exit from the playoffs. Fox has long been considered one of the NFL’s best coaches. He hasn’t won a Super Bowl but he led two teams to the title game — Carolina in 2003 and Denver last season. He went 46-18 in four seasons with the Broncos, with four playoff berths, even famously winning an AFC wild card game in his first season (2011) with Tim Tebow as his quarterback.

Fox spent nine seasons in the NFC South with the Panthers and failed to make the playoffs in four of the last five years, but Carolina clearly had some personnel deficiencies, particularly at quarterback.

Am I declaring the Fox absolutely the best candidate available for the Falcons? No. But he’s the only one with a proven track record as a head coach. Neither Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn nor Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles have ever been a head coach.

Update I: There’s a lot of early media speculation that Fox has his eye on the Chicago Bears’ vacancy.

Update II: The New York Jets reportedly don’t have interest in Fox, which would’ve been an interesting dynamic since he spent five years as the Giants’ defensive coordinator.

Update III: It’s believed the Falcons have no immediate plans to interview Fox.

My original blog about the Falcons’ search seemingly being down to Quinn and Bowles is below. But Fox could be a game changer. He’s somebody owner Arthur Blank and executives Rich McKay, Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli need to speak with.

Here’s the previous blog:

Unless there’s a secret candidate out there (doubtful), or Jason Garrett (Dallas) or John Fox (Denver) become available, or Bill Cowher suddenly declares, “Pick me!” I believe the Falcons’ list of preferred coaching candidates is down to two: Seattle’s Dan Quinn and Arizona’s Todd Bowles, both defensive coordinators.

Nobody has officially said that New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is off the list but I’ve never sensed– despite his obvious connections with former Patriots executives Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli — there was a unanimous belief in McDaniels among Falcons’ officials.

So for the sake of argument, and this blog, let’s assume it’s down to Quinn and Bowles. Here’s the situation:

• They could hire Bowles today, or tomorrow, or any time this week. He’s available. There’s no reason to think he wouldn’t jump at the chance of his first head coaching job. He’s done a great job with the Arizona defense, has 15 years of experience as an NFL assistant (Jets, Cleveland, Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia, Arizona) and worked in Dallas for Bill Parcells, who also happens to be Pioli’s father-in-law. Hiring a head coach who’s never been a head coach is never a guarantee for success, but there’s nothing to suggest Bowles isn’t ready for the leap. However . . .

• Quinn may be the Falcons’ No. 1 choice. The problem is that Seattle is still in the playoffs, so Quinn won’t be available for a second interview until after next week’s NFC championship game against Green Bay and may not be available for hire until after the Super Bowl. More importantly, Quinn also may be the top choice of the New York Jets, who could be Quinn’s top choice for family reasons.

The Falcons’ job is better than the Jets’ job, if for no other reason than the fact they have a legitimate starting quarterback. Also, the Jets are, well, the Jets, and for as much as the Falcons’ front office is in flux, it has been years since New York wasn’t some form of a dumpster fire.

But the obvious danger in waiting for Quinn is he gets offered jobs by both the Falcons and Jets, and he chooses New York. And by then, maybe Bowles has taken another job elsewhere (potentially Chicago or San Francisco).

So what do the Falcons do? My guess — and it’s purely a guess — is they’re going to wait until at least after the NFC title game, then make their pitch to Quinn. But if Bowles completely blows them away in a second interview this week, that would change things.

But I’ll put it to you: Should the Falcons hire Bowles now or wait week to talk to Quinn and make a decision then? Or do you prefer another candidate?


A recent writer’s dozen from the digital jukebox
— AJC: Rex Ryan going to Buffalo — and that’s not bad news for Falcons
— AJC: Nick Saban, the mercenary, takes on ex-Bulldog Jonathan Taylor
— MyAJC: Falcons’ backdrop not comforting for coaching search
— AJC: Falcons’ changes: Pioli’s role increases, so what does this mean for Dimitroff?
— AJC: How’s this scenario: Falcons vs. Giants and Mike Smith’s defense in 2015?
— MyAJC: Smoltz just wanted to survive, but he did so much more
— AJC John Smoltz, a Hall of Famer on many levels, gets the call
— AJC: Hall of Fame: Smoltz, 7 others checked on my ballot
— AJC: ROSE BOWL: Oregon mocks FSU, Winston with “No means No” chant
— MyAJC: ROSE BOWL: After 29 straight wins, Florida State morphs into grease fire
— MyAJC: ROSE BOWL: Is FSU most hated great team in college history?
— AJC: ROSE BOWL: Oregon’s Helfrich credits Falcons’ Koetter for his success
— MyAJC: ROSE BOWL: Will Jameis Winston prove to be worth risk in NFL?
— MyAJC: It’s Arthur Blank’s show now, and that could be a problem?
— AJC: Falcons fire Smith, keep Dimitroff, and here are some candidates
— MyAJC: Falcons are done and so is Mike Smith

Reader Comments 0

146 comments
oysterworld
oysterworld

Blank, Pioli , and Dimitroff....STRIKE 3, Only someone desperate would take the job and THAT should give you an idea of the quality we'll get

jack diamond
jack diamond

Fox is terrible. Panthers were happy to see him go. Take away his Manning years, and you see a mediocre coach.

candlin14
candlin14

If Vince Lombardi could rise from his grave and come coach this team, he wouldnt win more then six games a year. It doesnt matter what coach we have at this point. Our depth chart is what is lacking. Our horrific depth chart. Did I mention our Defense is the worst in the league??? Did I mention our offensive line is terrible???


The coach is irrelevant. This team needs a good offensive play caller and a DEFENSE!!! UNTIL THEN, NOT EVEN LOMBARDI, SCHULA, JIMMY JOHNSON, OR ANYONE CAN SAVE THIS TEAM!!!!

DanJohn
DanJohn

Hiring John Fox would be like replacing potato salad with macaroni salad. The man couldn't win with Peyton Manning. What makes anyone think he could win with Matt Ryan and that horrible defense? At best it would be a lateral move and not inspiring. I mean the man has a personality of a grapefruit.

50Concept
50Concept

john fox?  get real---he can't win big games.  Hire a real coach.

Ihateorange
Ihateorange

If they even for one millisecond consider Fox then Arthur Blank is dumber than a bag of rocks.  The guy is horrible !  If we cant do better than that, then we are the dregs of the NFL....

Dr Phill
Dr Phill

Who wants to be micromanaged by a scary-looking guy in pin stripes on the sideline?

Ersatz
Ersatz

John Fox = Mike Smith

ATL89
ATL89

No, he flubbed the Superbowl when he was with Carolina, and look how is coaching helped Denver in the Superbowl last year. Lastly, look at what his coaching produced this year, it's like rehiring Smitty. He is not a good coach, again No.

SOB
SOB

Here's the difference in a team like the Denver Broncos and the Atlanta Falcons. Denver was in the play offs. They lost in the play offs and heads start to immediately roll. John Fox has had past success, but that means nothing to Elway (a football man!). Falcons have back to back losing seasons and the same zoo crew stayed on board. That is the difference in winning organizations and a team like the Falcons. There is no winning mind set from anyone in the organization. Free agents flocked to Denver to play with a HOF quarterback and one John Elway who single handedly willed that team to two back to back Super Bowl championships as their quarterback. Falcon management gets orgasmic about trying to make the play offs.  The entire point is to win Super Bowls. They've had a shot in maybe three years out of the last 49 years. That is pathetic. Losing culture breeds losers. Success breeds even more success.

KingByumayuma
KingByumayuma

@SOB LOl Elway single highhandedly willed the Broncos to two Superbowl wins? What about the other Superbowl's he choked in? What about how he pretty much got destroyed in every Superbowl he played in until his Owner cheated the  salary cap and then mysteriously they ended up winning two...  Or how it really was Terrell Davis who won those two Superbowl's with the help of the Owner violating the salary cap, and the NFL  sweeping it under the rug...  Denver's culture is that of cheaters, not winners...

SOB
SOB

@KingByumayuma @SOB I don't know how many he played in, but if it's five or six, that's five or six more than the Falcons have played in in 49 years. Losers whine and make excuses. Winners win.

Redfin
Redfin

With the lack of choices we're hearing about,  the best option left this org a month ago.  Too bad there's not a Lehman Bennett lurking in the mist.  For whoever lands here,(and I'm not expecting much),  job #1 is to win the NFC south,  anything past that is gravy on the top.   With Payton still in NO,  this team will remain irrelevant.

Ihateorange
Ihateorange

@Redfin  Hey Blank, here is a packet of salt....  you are going to need it while you eat all those seat licenses you are not able to sell.....  hahahahahahahahaha

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Have the Falcons begun to regret firing Smith yet?

SOB
SOB

@DawgDadII Absolutely not. He's a whiney weak kneed political hack who is afraid of his own shadow. Exactly how many head coaching jobs is he being interviewed for? That's what I thought...

96JB
96JB

No, that makes to much sense. Go with the unknown. Geez.

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

This is all stupid conjecture.  Nothing happens until Korn Ferry speaks.  They have a great record on hiring plant managers and HR managers.  When they give us their recommendation then the search will be over, not until.  We were told the first day that Korn Ferry was the lead pony on this and nothing has changed.

SOB
SOB

@Quackmeyer That in itself implies that the General Manager of an NFL football team is incapable of making a decision or speaking for himself. You can not make this lunacy up.

PalmBeachFalcon
PalmBeachFalcon

The position of GM is much more important than the HC.  Most of the time the team with the best players wins.  Flip a coin between Bowles and Quinn.  

DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

I don't think the Falcons should look at John Fox. He's had opportunities with the Panthers and a very talented Denver Bronco team and didn't get the job done. To me, he's just another retread. I think Austin or Bowles would make a good coach who could relate to these young players. At some point Blank has to get out of his comfort zone and make a bold move.

87GaDawg
87GaDawg

I really don't think it matters as much who they hire as it does AB keeping his backside out of the way.  Stay off the sideline.  Stay away from press conferences.  Hire football people and let them do their work.

Ihateorange
Ihateorange

@87GaDawg  But he wont, he is too much a micro manager and loves being the center of attention.  I am beginning to think Blank just road the coattails of Marcus at Home Depot because I certainly cant see where he has any true leadership qualities or decision making capability.

CynthiaTuckerrhymeswith
CynthiaTuckerrhymeswith

Come on, Arthur, why don't you just do it yourself?  You are on the field anyway, seem to want to be the focus of attention and insist on making the big decisions. You may as well be the HC.

atlfanman
atlfanman

Fox has a great resume but reacting to his availability is rather impulsive. Falcons4Eva makes a good point about the talent level of the Broncos. The Falcons' problems are fixable, defense, offensive line, running game and imaginative game plan. The main problem the Falcons' created since firing Mike Smith is keeping Dimitroff and Piolli. Unless the new coach has a relationship with them it could be a disaster. Arthur's allegiance to the aforementioned GMs could scare off potential suitors.  

Falcons4Eva
Falcons4Eva

You talk about adding more insult to injury!  He is just another Mike Smith.  As for as Denver and his success there?  You, Me and Mel from Atlanta would have had the same level of success there given Denver's talent with Peyton Manning and their defense.....


Not just NO to hiring Fox Mr. Blank...but  Hell-No

Zapp
Zapp

Quinn's believes in a tough, knock your head off defense which the Falcons have never had.  He could use the draft the way it's meant to be used by drafting well after the first round, which the Falcons never do.  Give him the money and he will choose Atlanta.  With a decent offensive line, Matt Ryan will do well and this coach understands better than most what a top runner can do for a team.  The last two seasons Ryan has gotten so much heat when he didn't have one reliable running back to keep the other team's defense honest, and if you think he's second rate, put him on the market and see how long he last.

bparkman
bparkman

John Fox? You can't be serious. He was Smittyball before Smith came along. He's as conservative and head-scratching as Smith was. He couldn't get Denver over the hump even with Manning. And make no mistake...it wasn't Fox that took Denver where they went the last few years, it was Manning. Any coach could have done what Fox did there with Manning, and a different coach might have won a SB with him. Just say NO.

BravesFan79
BravesFan79

The coach in Seattle was a "Cant get it done in the NFL" coach until he won the Super Bowl last season.   Give Fox a break, Manning was playing with a torn Quad.  

EricEllis
EricEllis

I stopped caring about this search once Harbaugh and Ryan were off the table.  Those were the only two REAL coaches available and true to 40+ years of Falcons luck they never had a shot at either of them.  Now we will get stuck with some no-name assistant who will be mediocre at best (Bowles or Quinn), some retread like Fox, or some off the wall disaster like Petrino and Mora were.  Same old team can't ever catch a break...

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

Championship organizations make coaching and personnel changes whenever necessary- not just when the wheels come off. Seems like Atlanta teams always wait until desperation sets in to do anything which then leads to years of rebuilding.

ADee
ADee

Please no John Fox, for the love of god he's Smitty 2.0 

HotDawg
HotDawg

Hire Fox. 

End the interview process. 

Hire Fox NOW.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

Fox can coach -- he took a team with Jake Delhomme at QB to the Super Bowl.  It helped that he had the best defensive player in the league at the time at DE but Jake Delhomme???

GWJ0525
GWJ0525

There is your new coach. Now go get him before someone else does.

DawgNole
DawgNole

First thing I thought of when I saw this news: Will the Falcons take a look at Fox?

Given their mostly miserable history, they won't.

C'mon, Falcons, prove me wrong.

Ihateorange
Ihateorange

@DawgNole  Fox is horrible - that would be the worst possible selection.  He shouldn't be allowed within 100 miles of here....

FredMacmurray
FredMacmurray

i say we hire some young hungry coach.. i like Bowles. 

SilentCal
SilentCal

Bowles couldn't beat the Falcons this year.

Scamwatcher
Scamwatcher

These idiot owners firing good coaches are as dumb as they get. The Broncos have just proven it once again.

FredMacmurray
FredMacmurray

John Fox, its a no brainer with the choices we have.