Bradley’s Buzz: The Falcons should consider Belichick - and hire someone else

Falcons owner Arthur Blank has a big decision to make, and it would be tempting to hire Bill Belichick, who's on a short list of the greatest coaches in the history of the NFL. Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Falcons owner Arthur Blank has a big decision to make, and it would be tempting to hire Bill Belichick, who's on a short list of the greatest coaches in the history of the NFL. Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

It’s not temptation if you’re not tempted. If you’re Arthur Blank, you see Bill Belichick as the big name − there’s no bigger name – no previous search reaped. There have been times when your Falcons appeared poorly coached. Belichick’s last batch of Patriots were terrible, but it wasn’t because the HC lost his mojo. It was because he saddled himself with terrible players.

If he agrees to let someone else assemble the roster, that becomes a lesser concern. If he insists on Total Control, then you – and maybe Rich McKay, though I imagine 99.9 percent of this choice will be yours – face a difficult call. But you’re a grownup. You’ve made difficult calls before.

Belichick is 71. No NFL team has ever hired someone of that age as head coach. (Romeo Crennel became the Texans’ interim HC at 73, but that’s not the same.) If you’re Blank, you could live with that. You’re 81. You could live with almost anything if it makes your team win. Your team has become that thing you abhor most. Your team is an afterthought.

Your Falcons haven’t made the playoffs since 2017. They haven’t won the NFC South since 2016, and the past two division champs – Tampa Bay both times – were 8-9 and 9-8. Under your oversight, Atlanta’s NFL franchise is, counting playoff games, 184-184-1.

Your first 11 seasons saw five playoff appearances. The next 11 saw two. One of those ended in the Super Bowl. Unlike this franchise’s first Super loss, which was easy to forget, yours will live forever. Belichick is surely too polite to show you the ring bearing the inscription “28-3,” but I doubt he sold it on eBay.

Mediocrity isn’t what you had in mind when you bought the club. You were the cure for those lost decades under the Smiths. You made a bright start – a playoff win at Lambeau Field in Year 1, an NFC title game berth in Year 3, winning seasons from 2008 through 2012. But you’re conducting a coaching search for the second time in three years, for the sixth time in 21. What began well has gone sour.

Having never hired an HC who’d been an NFL HC, Belichick would be the ready remedy. Not just A head coach, he’s THE head coach. No team with Belichick would want for attention – not in its home market, not across this whole wide world.

Your games would become destination TV. (On Peacock nights, destination streaming.) You’d love that. Your team just came off a season in which it didn’t play in prime time. Hire Belichick and your 2024 schedule would see a passel of night games, maybe those against Kansas City and Dallas in the stadium with the famous roof.

You didn’t build that stadium to be ignored. You don’t like being ignored. That’s understandable. You and Bernie Marcus built The Home Depot. You brought pro soccer to Atlanta and broke attendance records from the start, taking the title in Year 2. You’re a philanthropist who tries to give back. You’ve had a storybook life.

The chapters involving your NFL club make for tougher reading. You came as close to being handed the Lombardi Trophy as anyone who hasn’t been handed the Lombardi Trophy. You had to fire Dan Quinn, whom you liked a lot, and now Arthur Smith, DQ’s replacement. You see Belichick as a way up and out, as the hire who could make the Falcons not just relevant but ascendant. How could you not be tempted?

That’s the thing about temptation. The coach you might view as the perfect fit mightn’t be a fit at all. His methods, which worked less well after Tom Brady took his leave, mightn’t yield an immediate impact, and if a 71-year-old doesn’t make an immediate impact, he’s not the guy to hire. And if he’s still the great Belichick, why is he out of a job?

You’re Arthur Blank, and you’ve got a decision to make. Should you hire Belichick, I’d understand. But I’d hire someone else.

The above is part of a regular exercise available to all who register on AJC.com for our free Sports Daily newsletter. The full Buzz, which includes extras like a weekly poll and pithy quotes, arrives via email around 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Go to the AJC.com home page. Click on “Choose from a variety of newsletters” at the top. Click on “Sports Daily.” You’ll need to enter your email address. Thanks, folks.

About the Author