UPDATED: 4 p.m.
In my recent summary of the mess in the Falcons’ front office and my read on the coaching search, I listed my top four candidates in this order: 1) Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn; 2) Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles; 2) then-coaching free agent Rex Ryan; 4) New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
So it follows that I don’t think there’s any reason for panic that the Buffalo Bills are set to hire Ryan , even though appeared to be favored by Falcons owner Arthur Blank. Blank liked the potential Ryan would bring in defensive philosophy, enthusiasm and marketability, but he clearly wasn’t ready to make him an offer last week or he would have -- and I don’t blame him.
I also believe what the New York Daily News reported: That Ryan preferred the Falcons’ job, partly for family reasons, as well as quarterback Matt Ryan, but ultimately he didn’t feel like he was fully embraced by general manager Thomas Dimitroff.
Here’s by view of the dynamic in the Falcons’ front office:
• Blank has restructured the organization so that Dimitroff and the new coach will report to him separately. Blank clearly desires to become more involved in football operations, a debatable decision. There also has been some dispute who suggested certain personnel decisions in recent years when Mike Smith was coach. Ultimately, Dimitroff makes the final call but he has long been opposed to forcing players on his coach. Blank having the two report to him separately eliminates the potential for miscommunication.
• Ryan would’ve potentially been a bigger problem than any other candidate because he’s the loudest personality. He would have had Blank’s ear and would’ve been more likely to blame the front office if the Falcons’ season jumped the rails.
• I still believe Quinn is the best candidate. The Falcons obviously would have to wait at least one week to hire him, or three weeks if Seattle wins next week’s NFC championship game if they go to the Super Bowl. But the biggest concern remains not the Falcons would have to wait for Quinn but that they might not get him. It’s believed he’s the New York Jets’ top target and Quinn, being a New Jersey native, might be leaning in that direction.
• UPDATE: If the Falcons don't want to wait for Quinn -- or are convinced he's going to New York -- they could hire Bowles as early as this week. Via our Darryl Ledbetter on Twitter:
• Of the other two seemingly serious candidates, I’d take Bowles over McDaniels, although McDaniels called a great game in Saturday’s AFC divisional playoff win over Baltimore, including a 51-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Julian Edelman to a wide open Danny Amendola (which tied the game 28-28).
• Finally, there’s another report that Bowles’ interview with the Falcons last “five hours,” much like Ryan’s lasted, “five hours” -- as if that's a big deal. When NFL teams interview for a potential head coach, they don’t have him fill out an application and wrap it up in 45 minutes. There are a number of issues to go over: the coach’s philosophy for offense and defense; his perception of the personnel; expectations for his coaching staff. That’s just a start. Blank also prefers candidates to interview with multiple parties in the front office.
There’s some panic going on in Falcons’ fandom that they need to hire a coach quickly. I disagree. It’s more important to get the right guy – and there was no reason to rush to get Rex Ryan wasn’t worth rushing into.