Falcons should hire Rex Ryan

Who can take the Falcons to the next level? Could it be Rex Ryan?




Even a few weeks ago, I never thought this would be something that I would write. It would make me question my own sanity, my own well-being.

But it’s something I can’t get off my mind. I almost wish I felt differently, but I can’t change it.

The Atlanta Falcons should hire Rex Ryan as the new head coach.

There it is. I wrote it. I actually said it aloud as I typed it on the computer. Yes, I believe the Falcons best bet is Ryan, the fired coach of the New York Jets.

Maybe I’m just not blown over by the list of assistants that are on the hot board as potential candidates for Atlanta. Maybe there’s just not another name that jumps out to me as much as Ryan as an experienced candidate.

Or maybe, I’m just nuts.

Ryan obviously has a lot of flash, a lot of bravado. He may have been perfect for New York, for what the Jets needed six years ago. They wanted to compete with the Giants, who were winning Super Bowls, for the back page of the Daily News and the Post.

Ryan would say the outrageous things that would make that happen. He would capture the attention of a big city that had two teams. He wasn’t intimidated by Bill Belichick or anyone else. Ryan thought his team would win every single game, and he wasn’t afraid to say it out loud.

The Falcons have been led by a silent man the last seven years. Mike Smith was a nice man. He never was a problem with the media. He never said outrageous things to make headlines. He just did his job and said what needed to be said.

Ryan could bring a little spark to the Falcons, and would that be a bad thing? But here’s a belief that Ryan would be toned down in Atlanta compared to New York. He’s not an idiot. Ryan is a smart guy who would know his audience. He would know when he would need to say things and perhaps be more selective for when he needed to shock his team or his fan base.

That’s all part of this, isn’t it? Team owner Arthur Blank must sell tickets for his new stadium in two years. He needs someone that can grab the attention of the fans, someone that can be on the cover of the media guide, on the program and, most importantly, on the ticket brochure. Ryan could be that man.

But Ryan is not a bad football coach. He might simply be like his dad, Buddy Ryan, who was a brilliant coordinator but could never do well as a head coach in Arizona and Philadelphia. Rex has had to learn a lot from his six years in New York. He’s got to be smarter now than he was when he first took over the Jets. If he hasn’t learned anything, both the good and the bad that comes with being a NFL head coach, then I’m giving him too much credit.

Ryan would inherit a franchise quarterback in Atlanta that he never enjoyed in New York. He went from Mark Sanchez to Geno Smith to Michael Vick. The offense was never what it needed to be. But if he came to the Falcons, the offense would be the least of his worries.

Ryan would simply need to fix his sham of a defense, which ranked dead last in total defense and rush defense last season. He would add that toughness that Blank sought a year ago when he brought in Bryan Cox as the defensive line coach. Ryan would make the defense better.

The Jets had the 6th best total defense this past season. The offense has been their problem. Ryan would have to get better talent on the Atlanta roster, but he could make sure we’d see improvements.

And I might be wrong about this, but Ryan would probably have the stones to tell Thomas Dimitroff (if he’s still around) and even Blank to not interfere if necessary. Ryan just seems to be that type. He would respect them, but I doubt they would push him around as they seemed to with Smith.

The list of candidates does not impress me. Blank says he wants someone to do what Smith couldn’t do – take the Falcons to the next level. Why would Josh McDaniels or Adam Gase or Todd Bowles be able to do that? This must be someone that can be better than Smith, who was the best coach the Falcons have ever had.

I don’t see a first-timer as someone that can get that done. It would be McDaniels’ second gig as a head coach, but he’s still so young. Why should Tom Brady’s offensive coordinator be a good candidate? Why should Gase, Peyton Manning’s coordinator, be a good candidate? Brady and Manning are the coordinators, right?

The only other name on the hot board that interests me is Jack Del Rio. Again, he’s a defensive guy, and it’s obvious by now that my preference is to have a head coach with a defensive background, like Smith, and to bring in a heavy hitter as an offensive coordinator. Del Rio had success in Jacksonville and may be even better his second time around.

I subscribe to that theory – that coaches are usually better the second time around. I think Smith will be better in his next head coaching gig. It’s like Belichick, who was not great in Cleveland in the mid-1990s but excelled once he got to New England. It doesn’t always happen, but I believe coaches do learn a lot in their first jobs that can help them if they get another opportunity.

Blank wanted Ryan the first time around, when Smith was hired. Maybe the timing is right now. Maybe Ryan will be better the second time around. Maybe Ryan can take the Falcons to the next level and learn from what he did right and wrong in New York.

Or maybe I’m just nuts, but right now Ryan looks like the perfect candidate to get the job in Atlanta.


Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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