Todd Bowles High on Falcons' Coaching Radar
Now that it appears Rex Ryan will remain in the AFC East as the new head coach of the Buffalo Bills, the Atlanta Falcons appear to have locked in on their new front man to lead this franchise.
Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles had a five-hour interview with the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday, according to a league source, and he is considered to be a lead candidate for the team's head-coaching vacancy.
Bowles originally was scheduled to interview with the Falcons on Thursday but the interview got pushed back after owner Arthur Blank's mother passed away. Bowles instead interviewed with the Chicago Bears on Thursday and with the San Francisco 49ers on Friday before coming to Atlanta. The interview with the Bears went well, as ESPN.com's Josh Weinfuss reported.
Bowles would be replacing Mike Smith, who was fired the day after a 34-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers in the last game of the regular season.
Bowles, who is regarded as one of the better defensive minds in the game today, would be asked to repair a unit that was poor all season and could not stop the Panthers with a playoff berth on the line.
Bowles does not have a second interview lined up with the Falcons at this time, the source said. But Blank is likely to conduct second interviews with the top candidates before making a final decision. Other names that are supposedly on the team’s radar are Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and internal candidate Keith Armstrong. If the Falcons want to interview Quinn again, they might have to wait until after the Super Bowl, with the Seahawks a favorite to defend their title.
Now that the playoff pool gets smaller, the coordinators and coaches for these franchise become available for follow up meetings and decisions could be made shortly.
Former Bills coach Doug Marrone, Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and Ryan were the other coaches previously interviewed by the Falcons.
Bowles, 51, is known for his aggressive defensive approach, and the Falcons sorely need to be fixed on defense after finishing last in the league in yards allowed, surrendering 398.3 yards per game.
Bowles apparently has current Cardinals quarterbacks coach Freddie Kitchens in mind as an offensive coordinator. He also has ties to a couple of coaches currently on the Falcons' staff. He was a college teammate of Armstrong at Temple University. And Bowles was a teammate of Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice when both played for the Washington Redskins in 1989.
Nothing has been said what would happen with regard to the assistant coaches on the Falcons staff.