Falcons to Hire Coach Sooner Rather Than Later?

There was talk around the league Tuesday night and this morning that the Atlanta Falcons won't wait until after the Super Bowl, after all, to hire their head coach. Instead, they might do it within the next day or two. If so, that probably would leave them choosing between defensive coordinators Mike Smith of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Leslie Frazier of the Minnesota Vikings. Smith appears to be the front-runner.

The Falcons have had two other candidates still under consideration: defensive coordinators Rex Ryan of the Baltimore Ravens and Steve Spagnuolo of the New York Giants. But Spagnuolo is off limits until after the Super Bowl, and Ryan now might be headed to the Washington Redskins as their defensive coordinator if the Redskins hire Jim Fassel as their coach.

Many people in the league had believed that the Falcons might wait until after the Super Bowl to hire Spagnuolo. But that would put them at a competitive disadvantage for hiring assistant coaches, and it would shorten the time they would have to prepare for free agency and the draft. Owner Arthur Blank and new general manager Tom Dimitroff now seem to be leaning toward hiring a coach sooner rather than later.

The Falcons are looking for a replacement for Bobby Petrino, who resigned 13 games into his rookie season as an NFL head coach to return to the college ranks at Arkansas. Interim coach Emmitt Thomas finished the season.

By Mark Maske |  January 23, 2008; 8:02 AM ET  | Category:  Falcons
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