The Falcons let two top Kyle Shanahan lieutenants leave shortly after their upper-echelon OC took the 49ers job, with Matt LaFleur and Mike McDaniel both departing for NFC West jobs. And in the eyes of NFL execs, that has hurt the Falcons.
“Losing Kyle was bad enough,” one exec familiar with Shanahan’s system told Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, “but letting the other two walk is crushing them right now. [New OC Steve Sarkisian] doesn’t know what he’s doing in that offense. He’s running some of Kyle’s plays, but he’s not setting up things the way Kyle did. It’s Kyle’s plays but it’s not Kyle’s offense and they don’t have any other coach in that building who knows the scheme with LaFleur and McDaniel gone, too.”
LaFleur is now working under Sean McVay as the Rams‘ OC, but McVay is calling the plays for the resurgent team. McVay will likely be willing to let the 37-year-old LaFleur leave in the offseason for a team that will let him call plays, La Canfora reports, adding that many scouts and execs viewed LaFleur as Shanahan’s top sounding board in Atlanta. The Falcons still rank seventh in total offense, but their performance has dropped off dramatically from the 2016 historically dominant attack.
Here’s more from the coaching ranks as the schedule nears the midseason point.
- The Colts are not expected to retain Chuck Pagano for a seventh season, and one name to monitor will be Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy. The second-year OC will be high (if not first) on Chris Ballard‘s list if/once he searches for his first head-coaching hire, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com reports. The 39-year-old Nagy’s been on Andy Reid staffs for 10 seasons and is in his first as a solo OC; he and Brad Childress shared that title last season. Nagy does not call plays, but the Chiefs are operating one of the more innovative offenses in the game — one that ranks second through seven games. That figures to put Nagy on radars.
- Much like Josh McDaniels has resettled with the Patriots, Matt Patricia may be difficult to pry out of New England as well. The longtime Pats defensive coordinator would need the “perfect situation” to leave for an HC gig, Pelissero notes. Patricia, 43, has been a monitored HC candidate for years.
- Vic Fangio‘s contract with the Bears expires after this season, La Canfora reports, adding the 59-year-old DC will be in demand for a head-coaching position come hiring time. The Bears rank 13th in defensive DVOA despite not deploying a player who’s made a Pro Bowl, and Fangio’s unit helped win a game that included four Mitch Trubisky pass completions before holding Drew Brees without a touchdown pass a week later. The 49ers asked permission to interview their former DC for that job, but the Bears denied that request.
- A report emerged earlier today Hue Jackson is tentatively expected to be the 2018 Browns‘ coach despite a historically awful start to his Cleveland career, but La Canfora is less certain he or the new-age front office will be asked back. Jackson is 1-23 since taking over last season, with only John McKay’s 1976-77 Buccaneers having compiled a worse 24-game mark, but the ex-Bengals OC joined a historic rebuilding experiment. La Canfora writes that experiment thus far failing so spectacularly will call for Jimmy Haslam to fire key front office staffers and Jackson.