ATLANTA, GA- During the holidays, people are asked numerous times, “what do you want for Christmas?” However, the loyal fans of multi-million dollar sports clubs will most likely never be asked this question.
Well, this year I’m writing my own list and I’ve already checked it twice. The Atlanta Falcons need to shake up the Georgia Dome next year now that it has an expiration date on it with the new stadium estimated to be built in time for the 2017 NFL season.
With that unveiling being far enough away, the team still has some rafter space to fill with NFC Championship and Super Bowl banners. If this marvelous dream is to become reality, the attitude of the organization needs to change. This type of mentality change comes coaching. Without further ado, I present to you my Christmas, or holiday, inspired wish list.
That’s right; the Atlanta Falcons need a new offensive coordinator. Too long the team has depended on Matt Ryan to move the ball efficiently down the field and then get shut down in the red zone. The team uses its best plays in the middle of the field, and without a deep threat like Julio Jones or Roddy White, there is little to no threat when the team does get inside the 20 yard line.
As I said before, Arthur Blank wants explosiveness, but that doesn’t come without balance. There is one team that is very close to style Atlanta has in my opinion. That team is the Houston Texans, and who just got fired from there; just the former Denver Broncos quarterback and offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. There was a reason why he is only the second coach of the Texans and that’s because his offense works most of the time and is capable of putting up points even with subpar quarterbacks at the helm.
Just imagine if Dominique Davis or Chris Redman were to run the exact game plan Matt Ryan had to week in and week out. It would be rough on anyone who didn’t have the last name: Brady, Brees, Manning or Roethlisberger. Kubiak would bring the proper balance that is needed in the anemic run game of the Falcons.
Running Backs coach
The current running backs coach, Gerald Brown, isn’t bad and I’m not calling for his job. He has been with the team for six seasons and was instrumental in the development of Micheal Turner, Jason Snelling, and Ovie Mughelli. Personally, I’m just not seeing enough change or difference being made in the ground game. For change to happen you have to make a few splashes to get the water rippling.
This next coach is a stretch to get, but he has been on the hot seat for quite some time now. Head Coach for the Washington Redskins Mike Shanahan should be the next running backs coach. Of course a talent such as Shanahan would have some stipulations that came along with it. I suspect there wouldn’t be any room for Gerald Brown to be an assistant RB coach and my previous suggestion Gary Kubiak would have to collaborate intensely with his former head coach and the current offensive assistant Andrew Weidinger would have to be let go as well.
The reason why I wouldn’t want Shanahan to be offensive coordinator is purely due to his “Shanahanigans.” Even though he’s not calling the shots, which severely limits his ability to emotionally bench his starting players; I still fear his extensive résumé and experience might cloud Mike Smith’s judgment and cave in to his silly suggestions in desperate times. I guess you could call this some sort of respect.
Special Teams Coordinator
The last, but certainly not the least, position to be filled is special teams. Year after year, nothing special comes from the Falcons in this area of the game. I can’t remember the last time I saw a touchdown return or consistent yards gained from punt or kickoff returns.
In Seattle, there has been one constant since 2010. There special teams has been great comparatively to other professional teams that don’t truly value this area of the game. To me that’s a third of the game just being glossed over by the Falcons. Sure, they have a coach and they practice blocking, gunning and returning but it’s not an integrated part of their arsenal. In fact, any play that doesn’t come from the arm of Matt Ryan isn’t an integrated part of the Falcons playbook.
That being said Brian Schneider has made a name for himself and many otherwise ordinary players in Seattle. Take Leon Washington for example, I wouldn’t have known his name if the blocking on kick returns wasn’t so darn good in Seattle. Schneider has been working in the area of special teams since 1997 at Colorado State. In 2005 he worked with UCLA to lead the nation in punt returns with Maurice Jones-Drew.
The current coordinator Keith Armstrong can replace assistant special teams coach Eric Sutulovich so the Falcons can have some depth at the coaching position. Hopefully this depth building exercise will translate onto the player roster as well.
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Since nobody else has asked, what do you want for the Falcons on Christmas?