Kyle Shanahan, who has agreed in principle to become the Falcons’ next offensive coordinator, will arrive with some major baggage.
Because of NFL hiring rules, the team can’t announce its selection of Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn as the team’s next coach until after the Super Bowl on Feb. 1. Shanahan, 35, is his selection as offensive coordinator.
The Falcons’ braintrust took a flight to Seattle on Monday to interview Quinn for a second time and only had to agree to financial terms on what’s expected to be a four-year contract.
Former NFL and Georgia great Fran Tarkenton was not too impressed with either of the pending hires.
Things have gotten messy for Shanahan, the son of longtime NFL coach Mike Shanahan, in each of his past two NFL stops.
There was the highly publicized tiff between Shanahan, veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb and his agent Fletcher Smith which led to McNabb being benched in favor of Rex Grossman in 2010.
He was under heavy fire in Washington over his and his father’s use of Robert Griffin III and the play calling. They were both ultimately fired.
Last year in Cleveland, Shanahan didn’t approve of the front office’s mandate to play the much-hyped quarterback Johnny Manziel and requested to be released from the final two years of his contract. His request was granted.
After a quiet start to his career in Houston as the youngest offensive coordinator in league history at 28, controversy has followed Shanahan around like a cloud.
He’ll get a fresh start at Flowery Branch and have an established quarterback for the first time since he had Matt Schaub with the Texans in 2009. Shanahan replaces Dirk Koetter, who left to become the offensive coordinator with Tampa Bay.
With the Falcons, he’ll have two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Ryan, who’s gone 10-22 over the past two seasons playing behind injury-ravaged lines and without the benefit of a strong rushing attack.
Shanahan will also have Julio Jones, a two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver. Over his two years in Houston, Andre Johnson caught 115 passes in 2008 and 101 in 2009.
Shanahan’s offenses, which tend to bog down in the red zone, have enjoyed some success in piling up yardage.
In four of his seven years as a coordinator, Shanahan’s offense has finished in the top 10 of the league in yardage. His offenses were third in overall yards in 2008, fourth in 2009, fifth in 2012 and ninth in 2013.
In 2010, they ranked 18th, 16th in 2011 and 23rd last season in Cleveland.
The Texans led the league in passing in 2009 with 290.9 yards per game.
Behind the rushing of Alfred Morris and Griffin III, the Redskins led the league in rushing in 2012 with 169.3 yards per game.
Shanahan’s units have consistently struggled in the red zone. In six of his seven years as a coordinator, Shanahan’s unit have finished in the lower half of the league in red-zone percentage with rankings of 26th, 12th, 19th, 29th, tied 22nd, tied 20th and 24th.
His offense’s scoring rankings are equally unimpressive: 17th, 10th, 25th, 26th, 4th, 23rd, 27th.
The moves will not be announced until later to avoid the appearance of a rules violation. However, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com criticized the Falcons’ handling of the Quinn and Shanahan pending hirings.
“While not a violation of the letter of the rules, it’s a violation of the spirit of the rules,” Florio wrote in a blog. “Committed by a team whose (president), Rich McKay, chairs the NFL’s Competition Committee. Which isn’t a great look for the Falcons, the NFL, or McKay.”