South Notes: Falcons, Bucs, Marks, Pickett

Discussing his team’s decision to part ways with head coach Mike Smith today, Falcons owner Arthur Blank told reporters – including Vaughn McClure of (Twitter link) – that he’s seeking a clear leader who has a vision for success, player development skills, and represents the club’s culture values. According to Blank, it’s less important whether Atlanta’s next head coach is offensive- or defensive-minded, and more about finding someone who is adaptable and has a vision, tweets Albert Breer of the NFL Network. Blank added that the team’s entire football operations will be under scrutiny, and that the head coaching search begins today, with interviews starting as soon as possible (Twitter links).

Let’s round up a few more notes from out of the league’s two South divisions….

  • Armed with the top two picks in the draft, the Buccaneers and Titans will both have a strong front office presence at this week’s Rose Bowl, per Peter Schrager of FOX Sports and Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean (Twitter links). Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and Florida State’s Jameis Winston – the consensus top two quarterbacks expected to be available in 2015’s draft – will square off in the game.
  • With the Buccaneers considered likely to select a quarterback using the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, current signal-caller Josh McCown is realistic about his future – or possibly lack thereof – with the team, writes Pat Yasinskas of
  • Jaguars defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks enjoyed the best season of his career in 2014, establishing a career-high with 8.5 sacks. However, his year ended on a sour note — according to Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union (via Twitter), Marks suffered a torn ACL yesterday in Houston. The injury raises questions about Marks’ potential availability for training camp and the start of the 2015 season, and could impact the Jags’ offseason plans.
  • Veteran nose tackle Ryan Pickett isn’t sure whether or not he’ll retire, but he enjoyed his time with the Texans this season, writes Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. “If I did come back, I’d want to play here,” Pickett said. “I feel like this team is headed somewhere and I’d like to be a part of that.”
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