The Atlanta Falcons’ search for a new head coach has zeroed in on longtime New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick after he completed a second interview with the team over the weekend. Belichick, widely considered one of the greatest coaches in NFL history, left New England after 23 years and has emerged as the frontrunner to take over in Atlanta.
Belichick Meets with Blank to Solidify Falcons’ Interest
Belichick met in person with Falcons owner Arthur Blank on Saturday for over 6 hours to discuss the Falcons job. Their first interview earlier last week was done virtually. According to sources, Saturday’s lengthy meeting “went extremely well” and Belichick has vaulted to the top of Atlanta’s wish list.
The rare second interview indicates strong mutual interest between the two sides. The Falcons were clearly impressed enough with the first discussion to bring Belichick back just days later. For his part, Belichick seems open to taking on the challenge of rebuilding the underachieving Falcons.
Blank called being able to meet one-on-one with Belichick “very meaningful.” The owner has made finding a top-tier head coach his top priority this offseason after firing former coach Arthur Smith. Reeling in the legendary Belichick would be seen as a major coup for a franchise that has often struggled with coaching instability.
What Attracts Belichick to Falcons’ Opening?
Several factors make the Falcons job intriguing for Belichick at this stage of his decorated career:
Young quarterback Justin Fields: Belichick has raved about Fields, calling him “the most talented quarterback in that draft class” when Atlanta selected him in 2022. Developing the 23-year old is likely Belichick’s primary draw to the Falcons. His work with Tom Brady in New England speaks for itself – Belichick may relish molding another highly touted young passer.
Full personnel control: Blank has made it clear he will not force assistant and coordinator hires on his new head coach, giving his next leader ample power over the roster and staff. For Belichick, who effectively ran all aspects of the Patriots organization, this arrangement would allow him to reshape Atlanta how he sees fit.
Cap space for roster overhaul: Atlanta is currently projected to have $63 million in cap space this offseason, fifth-most in the league. For a team filled with roster holes, the ability to be aggressive in free agency will appeal to any incoming coach. Belichick would finally have the budget to construct the balanced, complete roster that he lacked toward the end in New England as resources dried up.
What’s Next in Falcons’ Pursuit of Belichick?
While nothing is finalized yet, the sense is that this Falcons head coach job is Belichick’s to lose at this point. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Belichick has emerged as the “top target” and both sides are enthused about a possible partnership.
The Falcons have also interviewed Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon and Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh. But with Belichick apparently firmly in their crosshairs now, those options seem to have fallen to backup plans should talks with Belichick break down unexpectedly.
|2 (1 virtual, 1 in-person)
|275-153 career record in 23 seasons with Patriots. Won 6 Super Bowls.
|Eagles DC since 2021. Coached under Belichick protege Matt Patricia in Detroit.
|74–25 record in 7 seasons coaching Michigan. Former NFL QB and 49ers head coach.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Belichick and the Falcons could agree to contract terms as early as this week if Monday’s follow-up conversations go smoothly. After that, it would be putting together a staff and attacking roster construction heading into free agency and the draft.
For now, it’s a waiting game to see if Belichick officially commits to taking on the sizable challenge of making the Falcons contenders again. But there’s a growing belief this unexpected pairing could be nearing reality.
How Might Belichick Lead Falcons Turnaround?
Should Belichick take the Falcons job, expectations will be sky-high for one of the most brilliant defensive minds in football history to turn around one of the league’s most frequently underwhelming franchises. Atlanta has just seven playoff wins in its history and has often wilted in high-leverage situations.
Installing that winning culture and attention to detail Belichick created in New England will be critical. And with Tom Brady no longer around to lead the offense, getting the most out of former top 10 pick Justin Fields will be priority number one.
Shoring Up the Defense
During his Patriots tenure, Belichick built a dynasty around strong defense and special teams while often fielding just good-enough offenses led by Brady’s excellence. In Atlanta, he would inherit a defense that ranked 31st in points and 27th yards allowed last season.
Massive personnel upgrades are needed, especially rushing the quarterback and covering the backend. Even with salary cap space, it may take more than one offseason to get the defense to an elite level – but Belichick will prioritize molding that unit in his image as soon as possible. Expect him to bring in versatile players who can be deployed creatively on a game-to-game basis.
Tailoring Offense to Unlock Fields
The quarterback position has been uniquely frustrating for Atlanta over the past decade. Matt Ryan’s late prime was wasted on rosters with little talent. And in 2022, hyped rookie Justin Fields struggled mightily behind a porous offensive line and overly conservative scheme.
Unlocking Fields has to be the offensive focus for Belichick and his staff. At Ohio St. and in college, Fields thrived throwing downfield off play-action – that aggressive passing game must be featured more regularly. Upgrading the offensive tackles is also a must to allow the vertical pass game time to develop and create defined reads.
While not considered an offensive guru, Belichick has shown the adaptability to tailor systems to his quarterbacks’ strengths. The Cutcliffe/McDaniels offense plumbed Brady’s quick processing and accuracy on timing throws. A decade later, the Patriots shifted to a run-heavy approach to ease the burden on a declining Brady. In Atlanta, Belichick will need to adjust again, this time to accentuate Fields’ off-schedule playmaking without hindering his development.
Getting that Lauren-Jackson led offense operating more cohesively by adding talent upfront and at the skill positions could quickly get Fields’ development back on track. For Belichick, maximizing a top-tier quarterback talent on his rookie contract is the quickest way to rebuild this Falcons roster into real contenders during his tenure.
Bill Belichick to the Falcons seemed an unlikely scenario just a week ago after the legendary Patriots coach stepped down after 23 seasons and 6 Super Bowl wins. But after two very positive interviews with owner Arthur Blank, Belichick has firmly established himself as not only a top candidate – but the frontrunner – to become Atlanta’s next head coach. For a franchise often stuck in neutral, landing arguably the greatest coach in NFL history would be a monumental shift in organizational clout and ambition. Belichick’s track record of methodically rebuilding rosters and cultures to compete every year would signal the Falcons are finally serious about contending on the biggest stages. In the coming days, we will find out if one of football’s most iconic figures is ready for his next challenge – restoring the Atlanta Falcons to championship glory.
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