The Atlanta Falcons seem likely to add new offensive and defensive line coaches sooner rather than later.
Maybe head coach Mike Smith already planned to make it a swift process. But the fact that Smith and his staff will coach the North squad at this year’s Senior Bowl -- the week of Jan. 20-25 -- means Smith no doubt wants his full allotment of coaches in place before leaving for Mobile, Ala., in a few weeks.
Since the Falcons reportedly were denied permission to interview Minnesota Vikings offensive line coach Jeff Davidson, according to Fox Sports, it shows the Falcons already are doing their due diligence to identify capable candidates.
The team parted ways with offensive line coaches Pat Hill and Paul Dunn and defensive line coach Ray Hamilton last week after a poor season by both lines. Getting the new coaches in place before the Senior Bowl not only would give those line coaches a chance to work with some of the draft prospects up close, it also would give Smith an immediate chance to see the style of his new coaches, if he doesn’t bring aboard familiar faces he has worked with in the past.
Speaking of the latter, one coach in particular still has a strong desire to be reunited with Smith. Former head coach Mike Tice, last the offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears, would love nothing more than to join the Falcons as their offensive line coach, a source reiterated to ESPN.com. Tice worked with Smith and Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter in Jacksonville. The former NFL tight end has a knack for motivating offensive linemen and turning marginal talent into solid contributors, as he did with a few players in Chicago.
As the Falcons proceed with the process, two images from the last regular-season game against Carolina should serve as a constant reminder of how crucial these hires are: Matt Ryan hobbling to his feet after getting beat to the ground and Cam Newton having all day to throw a touchdown dart.
It’s all on the line for the Falcons.