The Falcons are looking for a new coach for the first time since 2015 and a new G.M. for the first time since 2008. The man hired by the Falcons as G.M. in 2004 and who, frankly, fell upward in 2008 addresses the new vacancies in a monologue posted on the team’s website.
Falcons president and CEO Rick McKay emphasizes in the video that they’ll take their time in filling the jobs. That said, they have no choice but to take their time; a new coach won’t be hired from the outside (or promoted from the inside) before the season ends in January. Ditto for a new G.M. For the next 11 weeks, the Falcons merely have a head start when it comes to identifying candidates and launching a strategy for hiring a new coach and a new G.M.
In the seven-minute video, McKay explains that they won’t pin the philosophy to offensive or defensive coach, small, fast team or big, physical team, since requirements like that will limit the search.
McKay said that the new G.M. and coach ultimately will have “great control over the roster,” with a caveat.
“We like a lot of the players we have on this football team,” McKay say, pointing out that they have some “impactful players” they’d like to keep. At the same time, McKay admits, “You never try to tie their hands.”
“You’ve got to give your people that you brought in to run your franchise,” McKay says in the video. “You’ve got to give them the leeway to do what they think is best.”
McKay realizes that the salary cap will be an issue, but he says it’s “not a big huge problem.”
“We have constraints based on the current roster setup,” McKay explains. “And that’s because we have some players that are really good players, and they’re paid at an elite level.”
McKay ultimately believes that, as to both open positions, “We should be a very appealing job.”
That’s what McKay has to say. The ultimate appeal to the positions comes from the fact that there are only 32 NFL G.M. and head-coaching jobs. Other factors include whether they like the roster, whether they think the roster can be shaped to meet their needs, whether they’ll truly have the power to do it, and whether they’re comfortable with the structure in place above them.
That means, at some level, McKay. He said in a separate press conference (it wasn’t really a press conference, because the press didn’t ask the questions directly but through a pool reporter) that the coach and G.M. will report to McKay directly. Some candidates may want that. Some may not.
McKay knows that drill. He was the G.M. in Tampa until he wasn’t, because coach Jon Gruden wanted someone else to be the G.M. (Specifically, Bruce Allen.)
McKay landed on his feet in Atlanta as the G.M. It was on his watch that Bobby Petrino was hired to be the coach. It was also on McKay’s watch that Mike Vick’s dogfighting double-life went undetected. Although McKay as of 2008 ended up in charge of a stadium project that went grossly over budget, he’s the president and CEO of the franchise — and he’s seemingly insulated from the pressures of winning and losing.
Blank mentioned in the press-free press conference the urgency to win, on multiple occasions. McKay, through 16 years in Atlanta, has been immune from having that mandate impact his employment prospects. That’s ultimately Blank’s prerogative; at some point, however, McKay’s responsibility for wins or lack thereof needs to be considered, if McKay is going to be in the line of accountability from coach and G.M. to owner.