Falcons defensive coordinator Richard Smith takes questions during a news conference while preparing to play the Packers in the NFC Championship game on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, in Flowery Branch. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Smith, Cox fired by the Falcons

Smith, a veteran coach, may stay on in an advisory capacity, but will assess his options.

The Falcons are considering three internal candidates for defensive coordinator — secondary coordinator Jerome Henderson, defensive backs coach Marquand Manuel and linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich.

The Falcons pointed out that the decision to dismiss Smith and Cox was not based on the defense’s collapsed in the Super Bowl.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn, who was the defensive coordinator at Seattle before becoming the head coach, took on more of the play-calling after the bye week. The defense has always been more of a collaborative effort.

Also, Falcons running backs coach Bobby Turner could leave to join Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco.

Quinn spoke to the media Tuesday about the hiring of offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian to replace Shanahan and he acknowledged that the Rams had sought permission to talk to quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur, who is expected to become their offensive coordinator.

Smith and Cox didn’t immediately respond to early-morning text messages.

The Falcons dismissed the notion that after a weary defense surrendered 31 consecutive points and 546 total yards in the Super Bowl in the most historic collapse in Super Bowl history, that owner Arthur Blank demanded some changes.

Smith, 61, has been the Falcons’ defensive coordinator for Quinn’s first two seasons as the head coach. His NFL coaching career began in 1988 with previous defensive coordinator stints in Miami (2005) and Houston (2006-08).

Cox, 48, has coached the Falcons defensive line since 2014 and one of the holdovers from Mike Smith’s staff. Cox is a former player and three-time All-Pro linebacker.

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