Even if the Falcons have to wait two weeks to officially hire their next head coach, it doesn’t mean they really have to wait two weeks to … well, unofficially hire their next head coach.
Seattle’s improbable, 28-22 come-from-behind overtime win over Green Bay in the NFC championship Sunday means the Seahawks will have a chance to win their second straight Super Bowl. But that won’t stop the Falcons from interviewing Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn for a second time, likely Monday, and pretty much closing the deal.
They waited this long for Quinn. They can wait two more weeks.
Let me reiterate two things about the NFL’s interview process for potential head coaches in this situation:
• Quinn can’t sign a contract with the Falcons, but the team can interview him and, in theory, come to a wink-wink, nudge-nudge deal.
• There’s nothing precluding Falcons’ ownership and management from speaking to Quinn’s agent and, in theory, coming to a wink-wink, nudge-nudge deal.
I know. That's a lots of winks and nudges.
But it's difficult to imagine anything derailing this hiring. There have been seven NFL job openings since the end of the regular season. Five of those teams already have hired coaches: Buffalo (Rex Ryan), Chicago (John Fox), the New York Jets (Todd Bowles), Oakland (Jack Del Rio) and San Francisco (Jim Tomsula).
The Falcons and Denver are the only two teams with vacancies. The Broncos appear set on hiring Baltimore offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, a former Denver assistant and close friend of general manager/executive vice president John Elway. That means there's no competition for Quinn, unless another team suddenly fires its coach.
A contingent of Falcons' executives appeared set to fly to Seattle Sunday night to interview Quinn and, had the Seahawks lost, and then likely would have brought him back on owner Arthur Blank's jet soon after. So in the end, all the Seahawks' win likely means if Quinn won't be on the return flight.
Meanwhile, a quick word about Sunday's game: Seattle's defense kept the Seahawks in the game, despite four Russell Wilson interceptions and five turnovers overall. Seattle: 1) Forced the Packers to kick field goals after consecutive drives stalled at the one-yard line early in the game; 2) held Green Bay to six points in its last eight possessions (two field goals, five punts, one interception); 3) limited quarterback Aaron Rodgers to 19-of-34 passing for 174 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions; limited the Packers to 306 yards in offense.
No, Quinn can't bring members of that Seattle defense with him. But he's clearly doing something right.
UPDATE: There are multiple reports, including from our D. Orlando Ledbetter , that the Falcons will hire Kyle Shanahan as their offensive coordinator, assuming the Quinn deal is finalized. Shanahan, son of Mike Shanahan, will feel like he stepped into a dream after having to work with Johnny Manziel in Cleveland this season, and to some degree also being in the middle of the Robert Griffin III-Mike Shanahan mess in Washington.
Shanahan has been an offensive coordinator for seven years -- two in Houston, four in Washington and one in Cleveland. A full accounting of how his offenses have fared can be found at Pro Football Reference. But in short, they've ranked 3rd, 4th, 18th, 16th, 5th, 9th and 24th in total yardage. Far less impressive were his offense's scoring rankings: 17th, 10th, 25th, 26th, 4th, 23rd, 27th.
The Falcons were believed to have interest in Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase, but he apparently also has a chance to replace Kubiak in Baltimore (assuming Kubiak gets the Denver job) or go to Chicago with John Fox.