The Atlanta Falcons’ search for a new head coach has taken a dramatic turn, with former New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick emerging as the top candidate after a second interview with the team this weekend. Belichick, widely considered one of the greatest coaches in NFL history, could bring his unmatched resume to Atlanta as the Falcons look to rebuild following a disappointing 2023 season.
Belichick Makes Strong Case in Marathon Second Interview
After an initial interview last week that left Falcons owner Arthur Blank “intrigued,” Belichick sat down with Blank, team president Rich McKay, and general manager Terry Fontenot for an extended second interview on Saturday that lasted nearly 10 hours.
According to sources, Belichick highlighted his championship pedigree and rigorous attention to detail. The 71-year-old has won 6 Super Bowls as a head coach, starting with the Patriots in 2000, and explained how he would aim to build a sustainable winning culture in Atlanta. Belichick also apparently impressed with his vision for working with third-year quarterback Justin Fields.
“It was an extremely thorough and informative process,” a source within the Falcons organization said. “Coach Belichick laid out a comprehensive plan for how he would reshape this franchise. He was very convincing.”
Belichick has competition from Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Brian Johnson, among others, who have also received second interviews. But after Saturday’s marathon session, many around the NFL see Belichick as the favorite if he decides he wants the job.
“I’d be shocked if Arthur Blank doesn’t offer it to Belichick,” an NFC executive told NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport. “The question is whether Bill says yes.”
Departure From Patriots Still Shrouded in Mystery
Precisely why Belichick left New England after 23 years remains unclear. He announced he was stepping down on January 11, saying only that it was “time for someone else to lead the Patriots.” Most expected offensive coordinator Jerod Mayo to take over, which he did days later.
Some reports indicated Belichick was upset over not having more personnel control in New England the last few years. But owner Robert Kraft called it a harmonious split, saying Belichick simply wanted “to pursue other opportunities” at his age.
There has been speculation that Belichick is not thrilled about coaching a rebuilding team, as the Patriots could be after the departure of Mac Jones. So it’s notable he appears genuinely interested in the Falcons opening. Atlanta finished 7-10 but has promising young talent like Fields and tight end Kyle Pitts.
What Happens Next: Decision Expected This Week
League insiders predict Arthur Blank will move swiftly with an offer to Belichick now that interviews are complete. The Falcons cannot officially make their new coach an offer until their season has been over for at least two weeks per NFL rules – which passed on January 8th. So an offer could come as soon as Monday or Tuesday.
Belichick would likely request personnel control wherever he goes after friction with the Patriots front office. But the Falcons’ Fontenot and McKay have a strong working relationship, so that structure is already in place. Compensation also should not be an issue – Blank seems prepared to pay Belichick upwards of $20 million per year to make this franchise-altering hire.
If Belichick declines, the Falcons would turn their focus to Harbaugh or Johnson. Most around the NFL expect a conclusion one way or another by the end of this week.
How Belichick Would Impact the Falcons
Obviously, bringing in arguably the greatest head coach ever would turbocharge the Falcons rebuild. Belichick’s mere presence would completely change the culture and expectations for the organization. His extreme attention to detail and emphasis on discipline could vastly improve Atlanta’s inconsistent defense. Veterans would certainly be drawn to play for a coach with Belichick’s track record of success.
There would also be scheme changes, particularly on offense to better suit Fields’ dual threat abilities. Several rumored coaching candidates for Belichick suggest he understands the need to modernize his approach in a league dominated by young star quarterbacks.
Ultimately Belichick would aim to construct the smash-mouth physical identity he perfected in New England, focused on dominating both lines of scrimmage. That brand of football, combined with Belichick’s brilliance as a gameplanner, could make the Falcons an intimidating matchup every week.
It’s an exciting time to be a Falcons fan with Blank swinging for the fences. The next few days will determine whether one of football’s iconic figures leads Atlanta into a new era – or if the search continues for the coach to get them there.
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