The Atlanta Falcons are making some alterations to their defensive coaching staff.
Defensive coordinator Richard Smith is being replaced while defensive line coach Bryan Cox is being let go by the team, a team source informed of the moves told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport on Wednesday. Smith could stay with the Falcons in an advisory role, Rapoport reported.
In addition, the team is expected to promote from within for the defensive coordinator job. Defensive backs coach Marquand Manuel and linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich are two potential candidates for the position, Rapoport reported.
The staff shakeup was first reported by The Sporting News.
Smith, 61, had been the team’s defensive coordinator in title since 2015. Before coming to Atlanta, he was the Broncos’ linebackers coach.
While most will assume that the moves are the direct result of blowing a 25-point lead in the Super Bowl, Falcons head coach Dan Quinn apparently has been prepping for a change for some time, Rapoport reported. Quinn was calling the plays for at least half the season, per Rapoport.
So it goes in Atlanta, where the team now has a new offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian, and will be on the hunt for a new defensive coordinator as well.
This season’s Falcons team finished 27th in points allowed and 25th in yards surrendered, though they played considerably better down the stretch. The development of rookie linebacker Deion Jones into one of the NFL’s most versatile playmakers was a bright point for the regime.