Falcons block raid on coaching staff

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

FLOWERY BRANCH – By denying requests to interview special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong and offensive line coach Mike Tice, the Falcons, who are in the middle of a coaching search, blocked a raid on their coaching staff on Wednesday.

The Falcons denied the New York Jets permission to interview Armstrong, who was interviewed by the Falcons for the open head coaching position. Armstrong played in college with New York Jets coach Todd Bowles at Temple.

The Falcons also denied the Oakland Raiders the opportunity to interview Tice, who’s been with the team for one season. He’s coming off a strong campaign where he and assistant line coach Wade Harman revived the unit, with two rookie starters in left tackle Jake Matthews and third-string center James Stone and undrafted second-year tackle Ryan Schrader..

When Falcons coach Mike Smith was fired on Dec. 29, owner Arthur Blank said that most of the coaching staff, which is under contract for next season, would be made available to the next head coach.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

The blocking of the opportunities for Armstrong and Tice comes after the Falcons granted offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to leave and sign with Tampa Bay.

“There’s only a handful of coaches who are not under contract currently for (2015),” Blank said. “Obviously, whoever the next head coach is, we will expect that individual to carefully assess our coaching staff, and we have a lot of very fine coaches. Whether or not if they all fit with their philosophies and style, etc. of the new head coach, only time will tell. I think that’s a decision that the new head coach will make. We certainly will make that staff available to whomever we select.”

Last season, the Falcons were denied permission to interview Minnesota Vikings offensive line coach Jeff Davidson.

The Falcons had fired offensive line coaches Pat Hill and Paul Dunn after the unit gave up 44 sacks and 100 quarterback hits in 2013.

Tice and Harman were later hired to coach the offensive linemen. The line gave up 31 sacks in 2014.


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