Falcons head coach search: More names emerge as reported candidates

An offensive coordinator and three defensive coordinators are among names associated with the Falcons search


Editor's note: This story was last updated at 8:07 p.m. ET with the confirmation about San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

The Atlanta Falcons' search for a head coach is reportedly expanding.

On Friday, the team confirmed that it interviewed interim coach Raheem Morris for the full-time position. On Sunday morning, four more names emerged as possible targets for the Falcons.


According to a report on NFL.com, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith and Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley are "among the candidates Atlanta has been researching."

Additionally, Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported Sunday morning that San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh could be interviewed by the Falcons as early as Monday. San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan reportedly confirmed Saleh's plans to interview with the Falcons following the Niners' game on Sunday.

Prior to joining the Buccaneers coaching staff in 2019, Bowles was the head coach of the New York Jets from 2015-18 where he compiled a 24-40 overall record in four seasons. Under Bowles this season, the Bucs defense has emerged as one of the league's best units. Tampa is plus-seven in turnover differential (No. 6 in the league), has a total of 23 takeaways (No. 4), has surrendered 323.3 yards per game (No. 6), and is giving 21.9 points per game (No. 7). Tampa Bay has the No. 1 rushing defense in the league, surrendering just 77.5 yards per game.


"In the league it changes every five to seven years whether it's offensive coaches to defensive coaches, to young-gun run-and-shoot coaches to zone scheme defensive coaches. It's a fad and it'll pass and it'll change every couple of years," Bowles told CBS Sports. "You really look at who wins all the Super Bowl they're usually defensive coaches, most of them anyway. Look at Belichick and Tomlin and Dungy and Parcells and Cowher. There are a ton of defensive coaches who win Super Bowls. There's something to be said about that."

Smith has been with the Titans since 2011 and has held a number of positions, including tight ends coach, offensive line assistant, offensive quality control coach and defensive quality control coach. Under Smith in 2020, the Titans offense ranks No. 5 in the league in total yards per game (390.1) and No. 2 overall in rushing yards per game (160.1). The Titans are also third in the league in scoring, putting up 30.0 points per game.

Staley took over as the Los Angeles Rams' defensive coordinator in 2020. Under Staley in 2020, the Rams defense is ranked No. 1 in the league in total yards allowed per game (286.5), No. 1 in passing yards allowed per game (192.3), No. 3 in rushing yards allowed (94.1) and third overall in points allowed per game (19.3). The Rams have forced 21 turnovers this season, which is tied for the fifth-most in the league.


Saleh is finishing his fourth season as the San Francisco 49ers' defensive coordinator. Under Saleh, San Francisco's defense ranks No. 5 in the league in total yards of offense allowed per game (316.7), fourth in average passing yards allowed (211.2), is tied for sixth in total rushing yards allowed per game (105.5) and is allowing 24.3 points per game. The 49ers also have 20 takeaways this season.

Morris took over as interim coach on Oct. 12, a day after the Falcons decided to part ways with general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn. At the time, the Falcons were 0-5 and coming off a 23-16 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Since then, the Falcons have gone 4-6 under Morris and five of those losses were by five points or less.

It's worth noting that NFL teams are now allowed to request interviews for a head coaching vacancy with candidates who are still currently employed by other clubs. Any team with a potential candidate can deny the request for a virtual interview. Interviews can only be conducted with a coach if his current club allows for one to take place. For a detailed explanation on interview guidelines, click here.


Get the latest updates!

Click below for a collection of names being reported as candidates for the Atlanta Falcons' open head coach position

Related Content