Clemson's Dabo Swinney: Next Coach of the Atlanta Falcons?
Black Monday saw the firing of several head coaches including Mike Smith of the Atlanta Falcons. The coach I have in mind for the Falcons is probably not on anyone's radar but I think Clemson's head coach Dabo Swinney, who currently coaches about 124 miles from Atlanta, would be a great next coach for the Falcons.
While the Clemson Tigers began to rebuild and find success in the late 1990's and early 2000's under head coach Tommy Bowden who was 75-42 including three bowl game wins over nine and a half seasons, the Tigers have been even better under Dabo Swinney. In the six and a half seasons Swinney has been coaching the Tigers the team has posted a record of 61-26 including four bowl wins which include a Chick-fil-A bowl win over LSU, an Orange Bowl win over Ohio State and a dominant win in the Russell Athletic Bowl over Oklahoma.
Swinney has posted two 11-win seasons and is the first Clemson coach to win 11 games in a season since the 1981 season when the Tigers won 12 games and the national championship. Clemson is also one of only four schools to win at least 10 games over the past four seasons. Lastly, in 2011 Swinney also guided the Tigers to their first conference championship since 1991.
Wide Receivers and Defense
Swinney played wide receiver for three seasons at Alabama before becoming the team's wide receiver coach from 1996-2000 and became wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator for Clemson in 2003. In the drafts from 2004 through 2014, seven Clemson wide receivers have been selected in the NFL Draft. DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins were drafted in the first round by Houston and Buffalo respectively, while Martavis Bryant is having a spectacular season with Pittsburgh. Swinney would be the perfect person to come into Atlanta and coach receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White and others.
While Swinney's experience is with the wide receiver position he along with defensive coordinator, Brent Venables has built Clemson into one of the best defenses in college football. The 2014 season saw the Tigers record two shutouts while dominating in their last two games against South Carolina and Oklohoma and finished first in total yards allowed, sixth in points allowed and fifth in sacks. In 2013, the Tigers finished 29th in total yards allowed, 24th in points allowed, and 13th in sacks and interceptions. The Tigers finished 46th and 18th in total yards allowed in 2009 and 2010 respectively. Additionally, from 2009 through 2014, 14 Clemson defensive players have been selected in the NFL Draft with three of those being selected in the second round.
Atlanta's defense definitely needs some help as in 2014 they gave up the most total yards and passing yards while finishing ranked 21st in running yards allowed and 27th in total points allowed. Swinney has a small connection to the Atlanta defense as current Falcons defensive end Malliciah Goodman played under Swinney during his college career.
Swinney the Man
Coach Swinney has an outstanding and friendly personality that seems to make him well liked by other coaches, his players and fans. At the same time, I believe he sets the expectations high for his team and program, and tries to get the best out of each of his players. Part of the process of getting the best out of his players I believe is the players respect for Coach Swinney and what he is "preaching". He does a good job of motivating his team and helping deal with all outcomes of the game win or lose. He is a coach who is proud of his players, has good coaches around him and a guy who expects to win every time his team takes the field. Surely, over the years as a coach and recruitment coordinator Swinney has developed an ability to spot and develop talent, which would be extremely useful at the next level.
Swinney's personality, his drive to win, his discipline and his vast knowledge and experience are attributes that would transfer to the professional game and would make him a good NFL coach. With the talent, Atlanta has and as good of a coach, Swinney is both parties could be extremely successful if brought together.