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What are some must-have qualities Falcons need in a head coach? -- Falcons roundtable

Tori McElhaney, Terrin Waack and Scott Bair discuss what Atlanta needs out of this all-important hire

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Falcons choosing to part ways with Arthur Smith dominated the news cycle after it became public around midnight on Monday. Subsequent days advanced the story about what comes next and who might take over as the Falcons next head coach.

Fan wish lists have been compiled and shared on social media. Locals and big names have been discussed a ton on Atlanta sports talk radio. Right now, that's just tossing names around without knowing if they're in Arthur Blank's plans.

We aren't going to do that here, but there are some must-have qualities that Tori McElhaney, Terrin Waack and I believe are necessary in the next head coach, which we discuss in a Falcons roundtable.

Scott Bair: Ability to build an elite staff

I don't care much about whether the Falcons hire someone from the offensive or defensive side of the ball, as long as they're a great leader and a quality game manager. There's another thing, however, that's as important as anything a head coach does in terms of scheme, player relations and building a solid locker room.

They've got to have the connections and ability to form a great staff.

If it's a defensive guy coming in as a head coach for a team needing to develop a new quarterback, who's your offensive coordinator? What's the plan to surround that signal caller with people who can help him thrive? Who are the position coaches charged with taking Bijan Robinson and Drake London to the next level?

If it's an offensive coach, who's going to lead the defense? Even the best head coaches need an excellent staff around them.

That's something I'll compliment Arthur Smith for doing well. He chose Ryan Nielsen as defensive coordinator, even with bigger names available to him. He brought Jerry Gray in here. He got Steve Jackson to help the secondary.

Owner Arthur Blank singled out the Falcons offensive line for being extremely well coached. That's Dwayne Ledford, ladies and gentlemen.

Every coach who interviews here will be asked their thoughts on a staff. Those who advance should have great connections across the league and a good plan in place. And it's a good sign if quality coaches will uproot families and move across the country to follow the Falcons next head coach. That means players will probably do the same thing.


Tori McElhaney: Someone who can guide and/or develop a new quarterback

The reason I'm leaning so heavily toward this requirement is because in Monday's press conference it felt as though Falcons owner Arthur Blank had already connected the two on his own.

"It's an opportunity to kind of pick their own partner, if you will, or own spouse," Blank said of a new head coach coming in. "(Someone) who they can grow with, who they can select, however we acquire them. Wherever we acquire their rights, (through the) draft, free agency or whatever it may be."

This, to me, screams finding an offensive-minded head coach. If the head coach is linked to the quarterback, then shouldn't that head coach be the primary source of guidance for said new quarterback? And potentially the primary source for development, too, if the Falcons go the drafting-a-new-QB route? I tend to think so. If the Falcons leadership didn't have an issue with the offensive direction of the team, then why part ways with Arthur Smith in the first place?

If you're looking for someone who can partner with a new quarterback coming in – a player you hope can be a franchise guy – then wouldn't you want that partnership working as closely as possible? If you do, then you're looking for an offensive-minded guy to lead.

However, I will say history has shown us there are elite pairings when it comes to defensive-minded head coaches and upper-echelon quarterbacks. So, yes, there's absolutely an argument for both. What I will say, though, is that if the Falcons go defensive-minded at head coach, that makes the offensive coordinator decision one of the most important of the offseason, as Scott alluded to in the first section.

Terrin Waack: Someone who understands 'the business of being a head coach'

The Atlanta Falcons should look for a new head coach who's like Mike McDaniel from the Miami Dolphins. Not only are the Dolphins having major success – 11-6 regular-season record with the No. 1 offense in yards per game and No. 2 offense in points scored – McDaniel himself has become rather beloved among the public. He's talked about a lot on social media, in a good way, whereas former Falcons head coach Arthur Smith was not and did not care.

McDaniel is just one example, too. Sean McVay from the Los Angeles Rams is another. So is DeMeco Ryans from the Houston Texans. Agree or disagree on those, the point is, there are head coaches out there who boast personalities that draw young fans and players.

It's a balance between professional and personal. Smith never lost the Falcons locker room, but the Atlanta crowd began to revolt.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank knows there's more to being a head coach than just producing positive results. That includes this idea of being socially conscious. Sometimes, it's better to be clear and concise than secretive and suspicious.

"The business of the NFL and the business of being a head coach has changed," Blank said Monday. "The number of people involved in media today, the channels of media today, the streaming, the distribution – the requirements on the head coach today are dramatically different and much more intense in a broader way than they've ever been before."

The Falcons need a coach who is willing to understand the importance of these broader responsibilities.

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