As of now, the Falcons, Jacksonville, Detroit and Houston need a general manager. Washington has a de facto GM in coach Ron Rivera. If a couple of more teams tilt toward a change at the top – say Philadelphia or Denver or Carolina – the front-office scramble could be uncommonly hectic.
On the coach front, the competition for field leader always is keen each year in the NFL, given turnover that rivals the tides. As usual, the best and the brightest – and even some of the usual retreads – will have plenty of vacant chairs for which to apply. In addition to the Falcons, there are certain openings in Houston and Detroit. The New York Jets, the Chargers, Jacksonville, Denver are all designated hot seats. And there usually is an ambush firing or two. So many openings, and only one Eric Bieniemy to go around.
So, if you’re a canny wannabe head coach or sharp-eyed personnel guy looking to move up – and, really, I’m sure you would make a great NFL exec given your unerring observations every Sunday from the couch – where do the Falcons fit as a job destination?
They certainly don’t tick all the boxes for the factors that count most with these job applicants – like quarterback situation, salary-cap space, roster age and potential, ownership. But if everything lined up perfectly, they wouldn’t need a new coach and GM, would they?
Sure, Atlanta is a fine place to live. It has a lot of the quality-of-life issues covered. It’s the quality of football organization, though, that matters to the single-minded ball coach and personnel Yoda. They’ll be doing their research, too, because the job interview is a two-way sales job.
The Chargers, for instance, would seem to be a particularly nice landing spot, perhaps the best of them all should Lynn be fired. They have a promising young quarterback in Justin Herbert. They have the league’s ninth-ranked defense in yards allowed, they’re strong up front with the Pro Bowl likes of Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. No cap issues. A new stadium, and the uniforms are cool.
Just let them draft after the Falcons. They don’t need any other advantages.
As an employment opportunity, the Falcons have their drawbacks. They are in salary-cap hell with no immediate relief apparent (now at $25 million over for next year as estimated by overthecap.com). Matt Ryan is showing his age, and Julio Jones’ various tightly strung parts are increasingly vulnerable. Any newcomer is going to have to get a solid answer to the question: What the heck does Rich McKay do, and how does that affect me?
What the Falcons have going for them is that Blank could sell hair plugs to Bradley Cooper. His retailing skills have never been more needed.
And it’s not as if a lot of the other openings are Shangri-La.
Detroit – bad D and a franchise in need of major body work and new points and plugs.
The Jets – bound to suck Trevor Lawrence into a vortex of hopelessness, as well as whoever coaches him.
Jacksonville – The headline in the satirical “Onion” says it best: “Jacksonville Couple Successfully Mates to Help Save Endangered Jaguars Fan Base.”
And so it goes in the company of the underachieving.
But if it’s of any comfort, the Falcons are not the ugliest factory second in the discount bin. They shouldn’t have to go begging for good help.