Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that the folks who will pick the Atlanta Falcons’ next coach — whoever those folks might be — met with defrocked Jets coach Rex Ryan for five hours Tuesday. If you added the verbiage of former Falcons coach Mike Smith over seven years of postgame briefings and deleted the words “result” and “phases” and “process”, you wouldn’t get five hours of speech. So I guess we should be impressed that Rex and the Bird Brain Trust chewed the ol’ fat for so long.
I would also note that at least some members of that BBT tend to be impressed by what they first see/hear. That’s how Jim Mora got the job: His binders full of plans and data swayed Rich McKay and Arthur Blank. (As for Bobby Petrino: Who among us could resist his personal charm?) And Thomas Dimitroff, who may or not be sticking around as general manager, won the Falcons via webcam.
That said, the Falcons under Blank haven’t once hired the guy you’d expect, and Rex has long been seen as the guy you’d expect. We all figured they’d hire Lovie Smith in 2004; they interviewed him and preferred Mora. In 2007, Petrino — then as now of Louisville — was a guy who’d scarcely been mentioned in those roundups of usual suspects. In 2008, Smith was a name on some lists but wasn’t considered a big one. (When you’re Mike Smith, name recognition is an ongoing battle.)
Rex is the biggest name on everybody’s board, and he’s a lot of the things the Falcons need: He’s a defensive-minded man — then again, so’s Smith — and the Falcons’ defense was the NFL’s worst; he’s brash, which Smith wasn’t, and teams tend to hire the opposite of what they just fired, and he’d win the introductory press conference, which might influence those patrons who’ll soon have to decide if buying a personal seat license to watch this team play will be worth five figures, not counting those on the right side of the decimal point.
On the other hand, offense tends to sell more tickets than defense, and there’s this: Rex was 46-50 with the Jets; in the best of his final four seasons, his team was 8-8. The Falcons just fired a guy who was 66-46; in the best of Smith’s final four seasons, his team was 13-3.