FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – For the second time under Dan Quinn, the Falcons are combing through candidates for their open offensive coordinator position.
"There's a lot of people who want to be here," Quinn said during the Falcons' end-of-year press conference. "Certainly from the offensive coordinator side of the talented guys. There was a lot of calls, I can say, of people that wanted to be a part of this and that's for us to discern."
It's easy to see why Atlanta would be a coveted spot by many play-callers. With a former MVP like Matt Ryan at quarterback, an All-Pro receiver in Julio Jones and a plethora of other intriguing skill players, the Falcons do not lack offensive firepower.
Part of the decision to part ways from former offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian was an inability to play at a high level consistently in all phases of the offense. Although Atlanta finished sixth in total offense and 10th in scoring offense in 2018, it was just 27th in rushing offense and did not manage to score more than 20 points during the team's five-game losing streak.
Quinn said he is not looking to stray too far from the offensive scheme he has put into place here in Atlanta, however. Nor is he looking for someone who has a history working with some of the Falcons' players, as is the case with some of the reported candidates.
"I would not say familiarity is the topic [most important to the coaching search]," Quinn said. "But what is, is adaptation to the scheme. That familiarity is really important, to make sure the vision of how we want to play stays very consistent, here. We've got a good scheme and how we can feature that in different ways I think is most important … I think adaptability is probably the top factor."
The Falcons have utilized the same philosophy built around the West Coast offense since Quinn's arrival in 2015. That offensive approach helped Atlanta put up record numbers in 2016 and it's one the team will stick with moving forward.
"We'll have both outside and inside zone, for sure," Quinn said. "What ways we can feature the guys best [will be important]. It will definitely still be a heavy emphasis on zone. We're definitely [open] to new ideas, new way to do things, that's definitely a part of it. But not a wholesale change in terms of the philosophy."
Quinn says no timetable has been set for when a decision could be made. Part of that reason has to do with the teams who are part of the NFL playoffs. A team may not interview a coach whose team is in the postseason unless it is for a position above his current one. So, a team could interview a coordinator for a head coaching job but not for another coordinator job.
As it turns out, there are coaches whose teams are currently in the playoffs that the Falcons would be interested in talking to.
"There are definitely people that I would consider who would be in those roles now," Quinn said. "As you cast a wide net you'd better make sure you're going through the process that you can to explore all avenues."
This is not a decision the Falcons plan to rush. Given the importance of this hire, Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff seem intent on exhausting every possible avenue and making the decision they deem the very best one.
"I didn't put a deadline amongst ourselves, due to teams that are still playing, obviously that's a factor in it," Quinn said. "There's no deadline that I have now. We're just going to be really thorough in what we're looking for: Scheme fit, culture fit, everything has got to line up just right."