Most of the NFL head coaching vacancies have been filled, but the Atlanta Falcons are still looking for Mike Smith’s replacement. The team seems to have narrowed their search down to two candidates, but they might not make a hire until after the Super Bowl.
A few of the top candidates that have been interviewed by several teams are no longer available. The Buffalo Bills hired Rex Ryan, Todd Bowles went to the New York Jets, and the San Francisco 49ers promoted from within by giving the job to Jim Tomsula. John Fox is a coaching free agent, having parted ways with the Denver Broncos, but he seems likely to replace Marc Trestman with the Chicago Bears.
Two defensive coordinators look to be at the top of Atlanta’s list. Dan Quinn of the Seattle Seahawks has been viewed as the favorite to get the job, but he might be getting some serious competition from Teryl Austin. The Detroit Lions’ assistant coach had a second interview with the Falcons on Thursday.
Austin has been considered a potential candidate to replace John Fox in Denver, but that may no longer be the case. He was supposed to interview with the Broncos on Friday, but that meeting has reportedly been canceled, and the interview has yet to be rescheduled.
Austin has only spent one year as a coordinator in Detroit, but that’s all he needed to help turn the team’s defense around. The unit ranked 15th in points allowed last year, and made their way to second in that category under Austin.
After Bowles went to New York, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Quinn became Atlanta’s top choice. However, the Falcons might not be able to hire Quinn until February. The Seahawks are heavy favorites to beat the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game and there are two weeks between the contest and the Super Bowl.
Quinn is allowed to have a second interview with Atlanta, but not in the week after the conference championship games. He is reportedly being considered by the Broncos, but the 44-year-old won’t be able to interview for the job anytime soon, unless the Seahawks lose on Sunday.
In his first year as Seattle’s defensive coordinator, Quinn led the top ranked defense in the NFL and helped the Seahawks win their first title in franchise history. The team had the No.1 defense for a second consecutive year and is favored to win the championship, again.
Adam Gase was interviewed by Atlanta, and he’s been considered a candidate for several head coaching jobs, including a possible promotion with Denver. Atlanta could choose to hire Gase, but not as the team’s head coach. ESPN reports that both Austin and Quinn have reached out to Gase about the possibility of him becoming the Falcons’ next offensive coordinator.
Neither Austin nor Quinn has NFL head coaching experience.