- D. Orlando Ledbetter The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Falcons special-teams coordinator Keith Armstrong is a candidate to replace Bruce Arians as Arizona’s head coach, according to Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times.
He would not be available to interview until the Falcons are out of the playoffs.
Armstrong, 54, played for Arians at Temple and has coached in the NFL for the past 24 years. His units with the Falcons have always been strong, and the team set a punt-coverage record in 2008.
“He’s a fantastic young coach,” said Arians before facing the Falcons in 2013. “He’s going to be a head coach someday. I’ve admired him for a long time ever since he played for me at Temple.”
Armstrong and Jets coach Todd Bowles both played for Arians at Temple.
Armstrong, a native of Trenton, N.J., nearly landed the Kansas City job four years ago.
Armstrong’s punt-coverage unit set the NFL record for yards allowed (49) for a 16-game season in 2008. Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers set the lowest amount for a 14-game season in 1967, with 22 yards allowed.
Seattle came close to the record in 2013, as they entered the regular-season finale with 22 yards allowed, but finished with 82 yards after the Rams broke loose in the last game of the regular-season.
The key was the directional punting of Michael Koenen, who allowed only 20 of his 59 punts to be returned.
Armstrong’s units have consistently been ranked among the league’s top groups. He was one of the stars during the team’s appearance on HBO’s “Hard Knocks.”
In addition to interviewing with the Chiefs in 2012, Armstrong has had interviews with the Eagles and the Bears.
Armstrong sent cover man and returner Eric Weems to the Pro Bowl in 2010 and returner Devin Hester in 2014. Falcons special-teams player Derrick Coleman is a first alternate this season.
Before returning to coach with the Falcons in 2008, Armstrong coached special teams for the Dolphins (2001-07), Bears (1997-2000) and was the Falcons’ safeties coach in 1994 and ’95 and the secondary coach in 1996.
Before entering the NFL, he coached in college at Temple, Akron, Miami, Notre Dame and Oklahoma State.
He also was part of the NFL’s Minority Coaching Fellowship Program during training camps with the New York Jets (1991), Dallas Cowboys (1992) and Chicago Bears (1993).