Scratch Todd Bowles from the Falcons' coaching search: He's going to the New York Jets.
But is this a setback in Flowery Branch? Not necessarily.
Bowles, the former Arizona defensive coordinator who was scheduled for his second interview with the Falcons Wednesday morning, never got out of New York Tuesday night. The Jets really wanted him, put on a full court press and to their credit, signed him a contract.
It was clear the Falcons liked Bowles. But it was never clear that he was their No. 1 choice. In fact, I don't think he was -- or is. The Falcons' favored candidate likely has been Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who has overseen the NFL's top defense for the past two seasons. The problem is the Falcons can't speak to Quinn again until after Sunday's NFC title game against Green Bay, and he's also a candidate for other jobs (although the Jets were believed to be the Falcons' toughest competition, given Quinn's roots in the New York/New Jersey area).
I'm sure many Falcons fans are upset about Bowles is going to New York. But it would be premature -- and possibly inaccurate -- to characterize this as a "loss."
This could actually work out well for the Falcons, at least for those who believe Quinn is the best available candidate. (They also plan to talk to Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin again.) Consider the potential dominoes that may fall in NFL coaching vacancies:
• Former Denver coach John Fox, whom the Falcons don't have interest in at this time, appears to be headed to Chicago.
• Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase appears to be the top candidate in San Francisco.
• There's speculation the Broncos are zeroing in on their former assistant, Baltimore offensive coordinator, Gary Kubiak.
Quinn, however, has been mentioned as a candidate in all three of those places.
This also may soften the blow for those who wanted to see Bowles in Atlanta: He plans to hire former Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey as his offensive coordinator. Gailey wasn't the most popular coach near the end of his tenure at Tech.
I understand Falcons' fans being frustrated by this process. The backdrop of front office changes also isn't comforting. But it's still too early to panic about the hiring process.
Now if Quinn goes elsewhere, then there may be cause for concern.
Below is a blog from Tuesday morning.
• John Fox is out at Denver but don’t expect him to be in with the Falcons. The team has no plans at this time to interview him. Personally, I think that’s a mistake. He has coached two franchises (Carolina, Denver) to Super Bowl appearances, he’s the only proven veteran head coach on the market and he’s familiar with the NFC South from his years with the Panthers.
• Fox is going to interview with the Chicago Bears. They seem like a perfect match and I would be surprised if a deal isn’t worked out.
• The sudden opening in Denver could lead the Broncos to talk to Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. That would decrease the seemingly already decreasing chances that the Falcons have to hire Quinn for their opening. Quinn also is believed to be the top candidate for the New York Jets. If the Broncos hire Quinn, offensive coordinator Adam Gase likely will want out. He's a candidate in San Francisco and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio will interview with Oakland. Denver also will interview their former offensive coordinator, Gary Kubiak, who's Baltimore's OC.
• Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles looks like the favorite for the Falcons job. He is having his second interview Wednesday and, theoretically, could be hired as soon as that day. As I wrote earlier in the week, the Falcons’ option is to hire Bowles (who’s also a candidate in Chicago and San Francisco) or take a chance and wait to talk to Quinn until after Sunday’s NFC title game. The risk in waiting to talk to Quinn is they might lose Bowles.
• The Falcons also plan to interview Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin again this week, but it's not known at this time if Austin ranks as a backup plan if Bowles and Quinn fall through.
In any event, this should all be wrapped up soon and then the real questions start: How do the Falcons fix the roster?