Having held up as long as he has, Monachino attributes the sudden injury to “bad luck as much as it is anything else.” Still, he knew there was something wrong when he took the hit. The next day, he decided to see a doctor.
Now, he has to find a way to coach without as much direct contact. He said his first solution will be to use the sleds on the field, rather than holding the bags himself.
He also plans to coach at more of a “teaching” tempo on the field. This showed immediately in practice when he had the outside linebackers covering routes at a cooler pace while he talked them through coverages.
Furthermore, he said film study will be integral to the analysis aspect of his job – although it will be harder to do.
While he was recovering from the surgery, he watched games from home. He’d rather been on the sideline.
Watching from home was “brutal,” Monachino said. “You’re helpless anyway, but – when it comes to game day – to feel that way is worse.”
Still, Monachino remained an essential factor to the Falcons’ schemes. The only meetings he missed were the ones directly preceding the opener against New Orleans on Sept. 11, as he was still dealing with protocols from his recovery. Other than that, he was front and center on Zoom, helping coach the team in the best way he could.
Although Monachino still played a role for the Falcons, it wasn’t how he wanted.
“I never missed a rep, let alone a game,” Monachino said. “I dreaded (not being there). I woke up each morning thinking there were a million other places I would rather be.”
Yet, he made it work, given the circumstances he endured.
“‘How can you impact the game the best way you can?’ – That’s what I focused on,” Monachino said. “‘What valuable information can I get to my players and to the defensive coaching staff?’”
Now, after two post-surgery follow-up appointments, everything is on track, according to Monachino.
He‘ll be back on the field Sunday when the Falcons return home to take on the Browns (1 p.m., Mercedes-Benz Stadium), rather than watching the games from home.
“Life as I know it is a little different, but I’m back,” Monachino said.