We're not even one week into the Falcons' offseason and already fans can sense waves of change brimming on the horizon.
Both offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey and defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder are out the door, departing to "bigger and better" places like Auburn and Jacksonville (ha!). It has also become apparent that quarterbacks coach Bob Bratkowski, now joining Mularkey on the Jaguars' staff, will not be the in-house solution to the Falcons' offensive coaching vacancy.
Perhaps none of these changes should really be surprising. After all, fans and columnists alike have voiced their displeasure with both coordinators since 2010. But what became even more apparent after Tuesday's "season in review" press conference is the team's foremost leaders- Smitty and Dimitroff- along with owner Arthur Blank are absolutely not satisfied with the status quo.
For Thomas Dimitroff, it has to be an aggressive offseason. All signs points to that being the case.
Though Blank gave both Dimitroff and Smitty a big vote of confidence, he also referenced potential "sacrificial cows." Addition by subtraction. Players that would have to go this offseason. We can spend all day speculating exactly who those players will be, but the fact remains that the Falcons will in all likelihood let some vets walk and maybe even jettison a few players as well.
Dimitroff also had some very interesting remarks regarding free agency:
We’d like to bring back who we think are our core players right now, and that’s going to be difficult. Realistically, there’s probably eight (that could return).
Dimtroff also added that he was focused on adding the right veterans, ones with "positive playoff experience" that would contribute to the passion of the locker room.
This tells us two things: obviously one is that we'll see several players walk away this offseason. The other, and perhaps more important, is his statement regarding "passion."
I'd be lying if I said there weren't at least a couple players who didn't seem to have their heads on straight during the season. Roddy White was one. At times, Dunta Robinson was another. You could even include someone like Sam Baker in the mix. On both sides of the ball, you had players who for whatever reason just made some really bone-headed decisions.
It's clear that Dimitroff is not one to put up with that sort of behavior, and I agree with him 100%.
As far as the search for two new coordinators goes, Jason La Canfora has dropped four names on us for offensive candidates. Steve Spagnuolo remains the top target on the defensive side of the ball.
While I'd be more than happy to land Spags as the new DC, none of the offensive names spark the least bit of interest save for perhaps Green Bay quarterbacks coach Tom Clements. Billick hasn't done anything meaningful in the NFL in a few years, Schottenheimer didn't exactly produce fireworks in New York, and Koetter manned one of the worst offenses in the league last year.
Bottom of the barrel is not what I want for this offense, but regardless it should at the very least be a sizeable departure from Mularkey's "meat and potatoes" playcalling.
But any way you look at this Falcons team right now, for better or for worse, they'll sure look different by next year's training camp.