Falcons shaping up a staff for new coach

The Falcons’ search for a head coach is moving forward with an additional twist.

Without a head coach in place and the assistant-coach market drying up, the Falcons requested permission to interview Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase for the same position here, according to a person familiar with the coaching search.

The Falcons interviewed Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin on Thursday for their head-coach opening.

Austin, who has interviewed for five of the head-coach vacancies in the NFL, and Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who can be interviewed for a second time after the NFC Championship game Sunday, are the top remaining candidates to replace Mike Smith. Because the Falcons are the only team still looking for a coach who interviewed Quinn during the bye week, they are the only team who can talk to him next week.

During Austin’s first interview with the Falcons, he presented two coaches who would have been first-time offensive and defensive coordinators. The Falcons were uncomfortable with a first-time head coach and two first-time coordinators in the three highest positions on the staff.

After arriving in town late Wednesday night, he pitched for Gase during his second interview. The request for Gase was first reported by league-owned NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport.

Gase previously interviewed for the head coaching position with the Falcons and was considered a finalist for the San Francisco position. He interviewed Thursday afternoon for the vacant Denver position, according to the Broncos.

Former Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter left to become Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator last week. He cleaned out his office Dec. 29 after Smith was fired.

Gase, 36, is considered one of the top offensive coaches in the NFL. He was a quarterbacks coach under former Denver coach Josh McDaniels, but was retained by new coach John Fox, who promoted him to offensive coordinator.

Fox was fired Monday, a day after the Broncos were eliminated from the divisional round of the playoffs.

Gase had several head-coaching interviews during Denver’s bye week.

Gase was Tim Tebow’s position coach in 2011 when the Broncos reached the playoffs and defeated Pittsburgh and helped Peyton Manning transition to his new team in 2012.

“These last three years have been special,” Gase said.

This season is Austin’s first as a defensive coordinator. He spent the three previous seasons as the Baltimore Ravens’ defensive backs coach.

Besides the Falcons, the Bears and Broncos are in the market for head coaching candidates. Austin, 49, is scheduled to meet with Denver on Friday. John Fox is the leading candidate in Chicago, and Denver requested permission to interview Baltimore offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak.

Also, the Falcons blocked a raid on their coaching staff when they denied requests by the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders to interview special-teams coordinator Keith Armstrong and offensive line coach Mike Tice, respectively.

When Smith was fired, 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.

The blocking of the opportunities for Armstrong and Tice comes after the Falcons granted Koetter permission 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.”