Jan. 26—One of the topics of discussion last week that did not get drawn from the hat was the future of the Atlanta Falcons. That was actually a good thing as it gave time for any news to come out about Atlanta's head coaching position.
It's nearing Wednesday afternoon, and the time to come up with the weekend's commentary arrives. Still no word on whom the Falcons will hire to replace Arthur Smith.
Things got easier when both Dallas and Philadelphia made it clear there would be no change at the top. You'd have to wait and see whom they want and who wants to go there before making any move of your own.
Of course the L.A. Chargers finally landed Jim Harbaugh Wednesday night. That's fine by me because I don't think Harbaugh endeared himself to a southern audience during the satellite camp news cycle of 2016.
Looking at a story posted early Thursday, an insane number of candidates, 15, received at least one interview with Atlanta. We have coordinators galore, some recently let go head coaches and one quite prominent college coach. Tennessee chose somebody from that list taking the Cincinnati offensive coordinator.
It's conference championship week, and this is when lots of vacancies start to get filled. Just on Thursday, Carolina hired somebody, a Tampa Bay assistant, who was not on the Falcons' list.
Speaking of someone who did not endear himself to Atlanta, the No. 1 candidate on everyone's mind was the six-time Super Bowl champion Bill Belichick. Oh, what irony for Belichick to be on the Atlanta sideline after having a big part in ripping out the heart of the fanbase in that awful Super Bowl result.
But somebody I was rooting for, Raheem Morris, an former member the Falcons coaching staff once upon a time, got the job!
Good, because I was wondering what would be the great attraction for hiring Belichick? Attention? I did say he won six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots, but unless you also plan to bring in one of those championship rosters with Tom Brady at QB, you are not getting that Belichick in 2024.
In the last five seasons, the Patriots have no playoff wins in just two appearances. They are 29-42 in that same stretch.
But then the Falcons have one playoff appearance since playing in the Super Bowl for the 2016 season. If seven is such a lucky number, well, that's how many games Atlanta has won in five of the last six seasons.
And exactly how many years are you going to get out of Belichick? It could take two or three to reach that milestone of most regular season wins by a coach. He needs 16 just to reach second place, and seven wins a year ...
What might be more important than the head coach is what Atlanta does in this 2024 Draft. Right now, the Falcons go No. 8 in the first round. Some projections say that's edge rusher territory in this class.
The thing to do is be on the phone with the Chicago Bears. You, however, want to stay away from talk about Justin Fields unless you feel confident you can handle his current contract situation. 2024 is the fourth year of his Chicago deal and he is an unrestricted free agent after the 2025 season.
What would the Bears want to part with that No. 1 overall? It might take more than your No. 8. You would have to dangle a name that's pretty juicy, like, say, Kyle Pitts. Maybe a safety like Jessie Bates III, only 26 years old, as is cornerback Dee Alford.
The whole idea is to improve the quarterback situation on or by Draft day. You may not get Washington's or, yes, New England's No. 1 because they too are in QB need. You might think Arizona at No. 4 isn't looking for one, but after the first three picks the star power isn't there (yes, I am saying Bo Nix is not top 5).
Atlanta's is an NFL history more of frustration and mediocrity than success. But there are two Super Bowl seasons, two more than some other struggling fanbases have seen.
Even if the Detroit Lions get there this year, that's still one behind the Falcons. Atlanta even leads the often-discussed New York Jets plus that one club still looking for that first time like Detroit, the Cleveland Browns.
As for last week's drawings on topics to discuss, please note that, yes, the Georgia basketball Bulldogs lost that game at Kentucky (though it was because of a bad first half this time). And so the real season begins with a good start Wednesday against LSU. Also, former Alabama safety Caleb Downs found Ohio State more to his liking in the bidding war with Georgia football.
"Hey, if he could have experienced the Georgia-Florida atmosphere in Athens ..." We like to think that could have made the difference, too, coach K.
(If at all possible, give pet adoption a try through the Animal Rescue Foundation in Milledgeville. Donations of any kind are also in great need. ARF is a little red building at 711 S. Wilkinson St., and more information is available at animalrescuefoundation.org.)