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Falcons announce completed interview with Mike Macdonald 

What you need to know about Macdonald, Ravens defensive coordinator in 2022 and '23.

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Atlanta Falcons have completed a virtual interview with Mike Macdonald for the organization's head coach position, the team announced on Friday, Jan. 12.

This marks the first completed interview in Atlanta's search to replace Arthur Smith, who was dismissed on Jan. 8.

The 36-year-old defensive coordinator has a stellar track record calling plays for the University of Michigan and the Baltimore Ravens over the past three seasons. Macdonald has become a popular name during this hiring cycle.

Per NFL protocols, interviews with employees of other clubs must be conducted virtually prior to the conclusion of Divisional Playoff games on Sunday, Jan. 21. If the employer club has a Wild Card bye, virtual interviews must be conducted prior to the conclusion of Wild Card games. If the employer club is a Wild Card participant, virtual interviews may begin three days after its Wild Card game and must be conducted prior to the conclusion of Divisional Playoff games.

Beginning Monday, Jan. 22, clubs may conduct in-person or virtual interviews with candidates who are employed by other NFL clubs whose seasons have concluded and are prohibited from conducting initial interviews with candidates who are employed by clubs participating in the Conference Championship Games until the conclusion of the employer club's season.

Let's learn more about someone the Falcons are considering to become the 19th head coach in franchise history.

Interview date: Friday, Jan. 12

Current job: Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator

Resume highlights:

  • Baltimore Ravens, 2014-20: Macdonald gained his first NFL gig as an intern. After a year in the role, he was promoted to defensive assistant for two seasons. In 2017, Macdonald worked as the Ravens' defensive backs coach before moving to coach the linebackers for his final three seasons.
  • University of Michigan, 2021: Macdonald returned to the college ranks for a season as a defensive coordinator at Michigan.
  • Baltimore Ravens, 2022-present (second stint): He went back to the Ravens as a defensive coordinator, a role he has maintained since.

Local connections: Macdonald attended Centennial High School in Roswell, Georgia, and the University of Georgia. While he was still in college at Georgia, Macdonald coached high school football at Cedar Shoals High School in Athens. After graduation, he remained at Georgia as the Bulldogs' safeties coach and defensive quality control assistant before his first stint with the Ravens in 2014.

Why he's a candidate: Macdonald is an important part of a Ravens squad that stands as the AFC's No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs. His Ravens defense was first in scoring, first in takeaways and sixth in total yards allowed during a 2023 regular season where Baltimore went 13-4. The Ravens defense also ranked top-10 in all those categories the year before, too, further evidence that Macdonald knows how to command a defense.

Macdonald's in demand, per ESPN's Adam Schefter, with the Falcons among five teams requesting interviews with him as part of their head-coaching search.

The Falcons are looking for someone to push a talented roster over the top, into serious and regular contention for division titles and playoff wins. Macdonald has been a part of a winning organization, good at doing exactly that.

Macdonald said on Thursday that he has learned a lot from Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and the culture he helped build in Baltimore, and would take those learnings and apply it to any role he took with another organization. That would be a positive for a Falcons franchise looking to usher in a period of sustained success.

"The person that he (Harbaugh) is, and the leader that he is, you just have great role models that you look up to and that are high integrity (and) high character individuals and just phenomenal leaders," Macdonald said, via the Ravens team site. "So, they're easy guys to follow. If and when that opportunity presents itself, obviously you want to model that behavior after them."

Strikes against: Macdonald is relatively young, at just 36 years old and has just three years' experience as a coordinator. That may count against him, though hiring younger head coaches has become more commonplace in recent season.

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