Updated Jan 23, 2024 - News

Your guide to the Atlanta Falcons head coaching search

A man with a pensive look on his face

Arthur Blank is searching for yet another head coach. Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons franchise is in a familiar position: Searching for a new head coach after yet another disappointing season.

Why it matters: The right hire can boost the franchise to playoff success and Super Bowl contention. Picking the wrong person for the job could stifle recent, even if slim, progress.

Context: The Falcons, owned by Arthur Blank, fired Arthur Smith after a third consecutive 7-10 season leading the team to watch the NFL playoffs instead of participating in them.

State of play: The Falcons interviewed 14 candidates before selecting Raheem Morris as the 19th coach in franchise history.

Here's your guide to who they are and why you should — or shouldn't — want them as the team's next coach.

Jim Harbaugh

✅: Harbaugh has experienced success at both the NFL and collegiate levels.

  • He is fresh off a national title victory as the head coach at the University of Michigan and during the 2012-13 NFL season, he led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl (beating the Falcons in the NFC Championship).

❌: A lightning rod for controversy, Harbaugh faced two suspensions during his tenure at Michigan for improperly meeting with recruits and a sign-stealing scandal.

Of note: Jim Harbaugh has agreed to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Bill Belichick

✅: All he does is win. As the coach of the New England Patriots for the past 24 years, Belichick won six Super Bowls (one against the Falcons), 31 playoff games and 18 division titles.

  • Since the Falcons were founded in 1966 they have won zero Super Bowls, 10 playoff games and just 14 division titles.

❌: Belichick is older, 71, and has often displayed a cantankerous personality. Plus, in his four seasons since Tom Brady's departure, he has failed to meaningfully develop a quarterback — a huge need in Atlanta.

Anthony Weaver

✅: Weaver has overseen a staunch defensive line during his time with the Baltimore Ravens as assistant head coach. The team has been tops in the league in fewest rushing yards and touchdowns allowed, and Atlanta has defensive talent he could build on.

❌: The last two hires by Blank were first-year head coaches, and while Dan Quinn eventually led the team to the Super Bowl, there are growing pains with rookie coaches. Blank wants to win now.

Ejiro Evero

✅: Evero led a stingy Carolina Panthers defense this year, despite a putrid offense (though one of Carolina's two wins this season came against Atlanta).

  • He also has familiarity with the division having also coached against the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

❌: The defensive side of the ball isn't the issue for the Falcons. They need someone who can jump start the offense.

Steve Wilks

✅: Wilks has head coaching experience and is currently the defensive coordinator for the talented San Francisco 49ers — the No. 1 seed in the NFC this season.

❌: Wilks went 3-13 during his only full season as a head coach with the Arizona Cardinals. He was 6-6 as the interim for the Panthers during the 2022 season.

Brian Callahan

✅: Callahan is the offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals and had his best season with the team in 2021 when they made a run to the Super Bowl and averaged 27 points per game along the way.

❌: A lack of head coaching experience. Callahan will also potentially be asked to develop a quarterback, something he didn't have to worry about too much with Joe Burrow under center.

Of note: Brian Callahan has agreed to become the head coach of the Tennessee Titans per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Mike Macdonald

✅: As the Baltimore defensive coordinator, his unit has put up impressive numbers while snagging the No. 1 seed in the AFC for this year's playoffs. The Ravens had been near the top of the league in scoring, takeaways and fewest yards allowed.

❌: Once again, it's not defense that's the issue, though Atlanta struggles to generate a consistent pass rush. Macdonald also lacks head coaching experience at any level.

Bobby Slowik

✅: Slowik is the offensive coordinator for the Houston Texans and worked wonders with rookie quarterback CJ Stroud en route to a divisional playoff appearance. That's a good sign as the quarterback position is the Falcons biggest need on offense.

❌: He's only 36 and has spent one year as an offensive coordinator. It remains to be seen how well he would adjust to an onslaught of responsibilities as the lead man.

Ben Johnson

✅: As the offensive coordinator in Detroit, Johnson has been on the front lines of a resurgent franchise which is exactly what the Falcons need. The Lions went from 3-13 prior to his playcalling days to being one win away from the Super Bowl.

❌: On paper, Johnson is a great candidate with his biggest detractor being no head coaching experience.

Aaron Glenn

✅: Glenn played for five teams over his 15 year career and made the Pro Bowl three times. He's also been a part of the resurgent Lions team as its defensive coordinator and knows what it takes to turn around a losing franchise.

❌: Detroit hasn't been a great defensive team. Yes, they held the Falcons to just six points during their regular season matchup but they rank toward the bottom of the league in passing defense and defensive scoring.

Raheem Morris

✅: A familiar face, Morris spent six years in the Falcons organization, going 4-7 as the interim head coach in 2020. He went on to win a Super Bowl as the defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams and has a solid reputation with Blank.

❌: He's spent time in Atlanta. Morris had an audition for the job and wasn't able to right the ship and during his three year run as Tampa Bay's head coach he went 17-31.

Editor's note: This story has been updated on Jan. 25 to show the Falcons hired Morris as their next head coach.

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