Atlanta's success could harm coaching staff

December, 15, 2010
12/15/10
9:08
AM ET
There is one downside to winning a lot of games in the NFL : It can rip apart a coaching staff. Success often leads to opportunities elsewhere for assistant coaches and we might be seeing the seeds of this sprouting in Atlanta.

Offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the head job in Denver. At this point, it's mostly speculative that Mularkey's name will be on the Broncos' list of candidates after the season.

[+] EnlargeMike Mularkey
AP Photo/Paul SpinelliFalcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey could be a hot head-coaching candidate after the season is over.
Teams aren't allowed to talk to assistants under contract with other teams during the season and Mularkey said he has had no contact with the Broncos. But Mularkey did admit he might have interest in a head job.

That alone is a little bit newsy and should raise some eyebrows around the league. There were some who thought Mularkey had soured on the hassles of being a head coach after going through a rough experience in Buffalo.

While Mularkey would likely be selective in looking for a head job and an ownership and front-office structure he'd be comfortable with, Denver could fit that profile. Mularkey's built his résumé back up with the success of Matt Ryan and the offense the last few years and he also has a gregarious personality.

The mere fact Mularkey said he might be interested in being a head coach again might put him on some of the speculative lists of other teams around the league. Heck, let's go ahead and think out loud that he could be a candidate for the job a few hours up Interstate 85.

That's the Carolina Panthers, where John Fox will be gone shortly. After nine seasons of Fox's conservative offensive approach, the Panthers may look for a coach with an offensive background. It's also likely they'll look for a guy who has shown he can develop a quarterback because they want someone who can get Jimmy Clausen on track or groom a quarterback that comes with next year's No. 1 draft pick.

The Panthers have been envious of Ryan and his success ever since he came to the Falcons, so, at the very least, Mularkey fits the profile.

Again, lists are only speculative at this point because there can't be any interviews of assistants just yet. But let's go ahead and throw Mularkey on Carolina's speculative list because he would make a good deal of sense.

Going back to the Falcons, the easy assumption would be that quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave simply would slide into the offensive coordinator job if Mularkey moves up. It's very possible, but not a slam dunk. Musgrave's name sometimes gets thrown into talks about head spots or coordinator jobs elsewhere in the NFL or in college. Heck, you could even put Musgrave's name on Denver's speculative list. He has deep ties to the Broncos because he spent much of his playing career as John Elway's backup.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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