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Atlanta is looking at Packers assistants Reggie McKenzie and John Schneider. I think McKenzie would be a great choice for GM. I thought he'd get the job in Houston last year,but they opted for Rick Smith. For our sake I hope he stays in Green Bay, but at some point in his career he will be a general manager.
McKenzie at GM - can't deny that he's done a fantastic job in the influx of young talent to the Packers. Of course, Pioli would be great too, but would he want to leave the Pats?
Sparano as HC - an O-line focused guy, I'm hoping he addresses our biggest weakness (yes, bigger than QB). The biggest reason that Dallas is doing well is not Romo, but the guys protecting him and opening up holes for Barber. I also like the fact that he's not just a big-name signing... Singletary would be the more flashy pick (and I wouldn't be unhappy).
Jackson as OC - he's more of a passing game guy, so he and Sparano together should provide a balanced attack.
Zimmer as DC - was with Sparano at Dallas, and has already shown his abilities.
I just want the Falcons to build a winner...we have to be a bad enough team for long enough to turn this around. We keep catching lightning in a bottle every once in a while up and down and we can't solidify a solid enough core to the unit. I am willing to go through 2 or 3 bad years of picking towards the top of the draft to be able to build up a great young core of guys to build around and not do so much through FA. Once we have that core we can be like an Indy (who has 100% of its starters through the draft and have never played for anyone other than the Colts) that's how you build a year in year out winner and stay under the cap with all the talent they have.
Another of Tony Dungy's assistants is in the running for an NFL head coaching position.
Jim Caldwell, the Indianapolis Colts assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach, is scheduled to interview today for the Atlanta Falcons' top job.
"Atlanta would be wise to hire him, in my opinion,'' Colts quarterback Peyton Manning said Wednesday afternoon.
Dungy agreed. He long has endorsed Caldwell as a head coaching candidate.
"I just think Jim's got a lot of the things people should be looking for,'' Dungy said. "He's going to be a phenomenal head coach for someone.''
Caldwell, 52, interviewed with the Arizona Cardinals last season and with the Minnesota Vikings in 2005. He was head coach at Wake Forest from 1993-2000, compiling a 26-63 record, before joining Dungy's Tampa Bay staff in 2001. When Dungy was fired by the Bucs and hired by the Colts in 2002, he brought Caldwell to Indy.
Dungy said any team interested in interviewing anyone on his staff must do so before Monday, when the Colts return from a three-day weekend. Indy opens the playoffs Jan. 13.
"We have said this is the week to talk to our coaches,'' Dungy said.
Four of Dungy's former assistants are NFL head coaches: Chicago's Lovie Smith, Kansas City's Herm Edwards, Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin and Detroit's Rod Marinelli.
"Coach Dungy has proven to have a pretty good tree of head coaches,'' Manning said. "I think Jim would bring some of the Tony Dungy style but also some of his own style and some of his own offensive ideas as well.''
Bobby Petrino abruptly quit as Falcons coach Dec. 11 to take the same job at the University of Arkansas. Atlanta finished 4-12.
The Falcons are also interested in talking to Chris Polian, the Colts vice president of football operations, for their general manager position.
Who is Jim Caldwell?
Jim Caldwell doesn't get the attention of Josh McDaniels in New England or Jason Garrett in Dallas but the assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach of the Indianapolis Colts has more coaching experience than those two combined.
Caldwell, 52, is a former Big 10 guy. He was born in Wisconsin, played at Iowa and had an early-career job at Northwestern. But that tells just a small part of the story.
Caldwell coached in college for 20 years and was a head coach for eight at Wake Forest. He started in the pros in 2001 with Tampa Bay and went with Tony Dungy to Indianapolis. If you had to sketch Caldwell's career in just a handful of words, it would be that he has helped to develop quarterbacks and energize passing games.
When he was at Penn State, he helped Kerry Collins win the Davey O'Brien Award. At Wake Forest, his won-loss record wasn't great (26-63) but he did take that team to the Aloha Bowl (a win) and while he was there, his teams ranked in the Top 25 in passing for four seasons. He developed a quarterback named Rusty LaRue into a prolific, record-setting passer.
Of course, his arrival in Indianapolis, along with Dungy, coincides with the flowering of Peyton Manning and the Colts' offense. So like McDaniels and Garrett, Caldwell's NFL accomplishments obviously have to be viewed through the prism of working with an outstanding quarterback who has been throwing to great receivers and has been supported by a strong running game and a superior offensive line. Now, since Caldwell has been there for six seasons, it could also be argued that much of that is the case because of his coaching. In contrast, McDaniels has been heavily involved in the Patriots' offense for just three seasons and Garrett with the Cowboys for just one.
It's reported that Dungy and Manning support Caldwell's candidacy for a head coaching job.
ATLANTA -- Apparently intent on not only identifying worthy candidates, but also in getting the most bang for his travel dollar, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank will interview two Indianapolis Colts staffers on Thursday for the separate jobs of general manager and head coach.
Colts vice president of football operations Chris Polian will become the latest candidate to interview for the general manager position. Assistant head coach Jim Caldwell is believed to be the first man with whom Blank will meet about the coaching vacancy.
ESPN.com reported on Wednesday morning that the Falcons this week would interview a pair of Green Bay Packers scouting officials, director of pro personnel Reggie McKenzie and personnel analyst John Schneider, for the position of general manager. Those interviews actually took place later Wednesday in Green Bay.
Blank will travel to Dallas on Friday to interview Cowboys assistant head coach Tony Sparano, as well as offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, for the Falcons' coaching vacancy.
Polian, 36, is the son of Indianapolis team president and general manager Bill Polian and, despite his youth, has a long and impressive scouting background. His first job in the league was as a pro scout in Carolina (1994-97), and he joined the Colts' personnel staff as director of pro scouting in 1998. He has served as assistant general manager and is in his third season as vice president of football operations.
The highly regarded Caldwell, who in addition to his assistant head coach responsibilities also serves as the Colts' quarterbacks coach, interviewed for the Atlanta head coach position last year as well.
Caldwell, 52, has been on the Indianapolis staff since 2002. He also worked with Colts coach Tony Dungy in Tampa Bay. Caldwell was the coach at Wake Forest for eight seasons (1993-2000).
Although it is likely Blank will hire a general manager before a head coach, the Falcons are conducting a simultaneous process, in part to adhere to NFL rules regarding interviews with coaches in the playoffs.
Teams seeking new head coaches can interview assistants from clubs with playoff byes this week, but the sessions must take place by Saturday. After that, coaches from playoff franchises can only be interviewed after their teams are eliminated, or during the "open" week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl.
Bobby Petrino resigned as Falcons coach with three games remaining in his first season to accept the head coaching job at the University of Arkansas. Shortly thereafter, Blank announced current president/general manager Rich McKay would lose his oversight of the personnel department.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.
ACC Champions 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010
If you guys get McKenzie as the GM and he follows Ted Thompson as a GM(BPA) don't except him to get you guys the players you need if there a player he feels is better then that player, even if its a position not in need, also he wouldn't be active in overspending for FA. But I doubt it.
Chris Polian and Jim Caldwell would be great together. I wouldnt mind that. But if we do get Jim Caldwell, I hope we would trade down or trade back into the first to get Brian Brohm at a worthy spot. He would be great for Jim to work with.
"He's the leader of the next great class of NFL players." - John Elway on Matt Ryan
ATLANTA -- The quest for a new general manager will take a back seat to the Atlanta Falcons' simultaneous search of head coaching candidates for a few days, but it is scheduled to resume again Monday when officials meet with current Philadelphia Eagles GM Tom Heckert.
Heckert, 40, comes highly recommended for the job by Eagles' owner Jeff Lurie and he would become the third known candidate to meet with Atlanta owner Arthur Blank and team president Rich McKay about the position. The interview is likely to be conducted in Atlanta, unlike interviews earlier this week with Green Bay director of pro personnel Reggie McKenzie and Packers' personnel analyst John Schneider, which took place in Green Bay.
The potential move would seem like a lateral one for Heckert on the surface, but iit clearly represents upward mobility, since he would oversee the Falcons' football operation. Heckert has the general manager title in Philadelphia, but it is head coach Andy Reid who holds so-called "final say authority" on personnel matters.
In seven seasons with the Eagles, Heckert has engineered very productive drafts, and has built an impressive track record as a talent evaluator. Philadelphia promoted him to general manager in 2006, when the Minnesota Vikings considered him for the same position.
Before joining the Eagles in 2001, Heckert worked in the Miami Dolphins' personnel department for 10 years. His father was also a longtime Dolphins personnel official.
On Wednesday, Blank and McKay interviewed McKenzie and Schneider. The two were set to meet with Indianapolis vice president of football operations Chris Polian on Thursday about the GM job, but he opted to remove himself from consideration.
On the coaching front, Falcons officials will be in Dallas on Friday to interview two candidates, Cowboys assistant head coach Tony Sparano and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. On Thursday, the Falcons interviewed Colts' assistant head coach Jim Caldwell for the job.
Teams seeking new head coaches can interview assistants from clubs with playoff byes this week, but the sessions must take place by Saturday. After that, coaches from playoff franchises can only be interviewed after their teams are eliminated, or during the "open" week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl. That's why the Falcons made it a priority to squeeze in interviews with Caldwell, Sparano and Garrett this week.
Former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan will meet with Atlanta officials early next week about the head coach position. It is believed that Ryan, who technically was fired with the rest of coach Brian Billick's staff earlier this week, will interview for the Baltimore job this weekend. He is also a candidate for the Miami Dolphins' head coach position, although an interview there has yet to be arranged.
Head coach Bobby Petrino resigned from the Falcons with three games remaining in his first season to accept the job at the University of Arkansas. The general manager vacancy was created when Blank subsequently announced that McKay would lose his oversight of the personnel department.
Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com
ACC Champions 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010
Zimmer has been granted permission to interview for Bengals DC. Looks like both Zimmer and Jackson, after being told that they are not even being considered for the HC role, are being pushed out. Shame. (See ajc)