Falcons Oust Mora

Atlanta Falcons Coach Jim Mora was fired today by team owner Arthur Blank after a season in which the club went 7-9 and Mora created an uproar by saying during a recent radio interview that he would leave the franchise immediately if he could get the coaching job at the University of Washington, his alma mater.

Mora had a regular season record of 26-22 in three seasons as the Falcons' coach. He won the NFC South and reached the conference championship game as a rookie head coach in the 2004 season. But the Falcons slumped to 8-8 last season and fell below .500 this season. Mora became engulfed by controversy when his father, former NFL coach Jim Mora, agreed with a host's assessment during a radio appearance that Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is a "coach killer" because of his inaccurate passing. The younger Jim Mora then angered Blank and Falcons fans with his radio gaffe, for which he later apologized.

The Falcons finished their season on an unimpressive note Sunday when they lost, 24-17, at Philadelphia even though the Eagles benched many of their starters early in the game after they clinched the NFC East title with the Cowboys' loss to the Detroit Lions. Mora tried an onside kick and a fake field goal in the second half, but Vick suffered a high ankle sprain in the third quarter and backup quarterback Matt Schaub couldn't beat the Eagles' backups. Mora said after the game he wanted to stay with the Falcons but didn't know if he would be retained.

"I love to coach football," he said Sunday night. "It's what I do. It's what I've done all my life. I have a strong passion for this organization. Of course I want to be here. It's all I've ever wanted.... [But] we got beat by basically some backups.... We've obviously got some things that we've got to improve upon."

By Mark Maske |  January 1, 2007; 4:06 PM ET  | Category:  Falcons
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