The Atlanta Falcons still have a slim chance to win the NFC South, but if they don't, there's no doubt they'll miss the playoffs. That would put head coach Mike Smith's job in serious jeopardy. If he does get fired, who will the Falcons look at to replace him on the sideline?
Many expect Sumlin to make the jump from college to the NFL at some point, and Atlanta presents the perfect opportunity for him. Sumlin’s high-powered offense would maximize the immense talent they have on their roster. Coaches around the league have already been stealing his play designs and tendencies, and his system could have similar NFL success to Chip Kelly’s.
9) Greg Roman, San Francisco 49ers Offensive Coordinator
Roman was the offensive coordinator at Stanford before coming to San Francisco, and he’s been nothing but successful in the NFL. 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said that Roman “reminds him of Chip Kelly”. If he can live up to half of what Kelly has done with the Eagles, he’ll turn the Falcons around in no time.
Cowher hasn’t coached in the league since 2006, but has stayed in the game as an analyst for CBS. He’s won a Super Bowl and would immediately command respect from everyone in the locker room. Cowher has said he would come back to coaching if the right situation presented itself, and the Falcons have playoff talent.
7) Tony Dungy, former Bucs/Colts head coach
If the Dolphins front office can coax Tony Dungy out of retirement, they’ll be rewarded with a Super Bowl-winning head coach who is 139-69 over 13 regular seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts. Dungy has been off the sidelines since 2008, but a “retirement job” in Atlanta with a playoff-caliber roster could very well be intriguing to the current NFL analyst.
Bowles has quietly led and constructed one of the league's best defenses in Arizona, and they haven't missed a beat despite having several starters hurt this season. He was the interim head coach for the Miami Dolphins in 2011, and is one of the rising stars in the NFL coaching world.
Rumors have been swirling that he won’t return to San Francisco next year and he’s worn thin on the players and front office, which would put him at the top of every list in the football world. Harbaugh will survey every opportunity presented to him, and few can present the playoff-caliber roster Atlanta has. He would be an absolute slam dunk for the Falcons, and would turn them around immediately.
Bevell worked with Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson in Minnesota before moving to Seattle in 2011, where he's helped develop Russell Wilson and built a dominant running game. He would bring a Super Bowl pedigree to a team that seems to have forgotten how to win.
Hamilton followed Andrew Luck from Stanford to Indianapolis, and he’s led outstanding offenses at each stop. He’s going to be a hot candidate for every opening across the league, but Atlanta has offensive weapons he hasn’t had before. This would be the best fit for him – if he decides to leave Andrew Luck’s side.
Saban has dominated the college football world since taking over at Alabama in 2007, and has said that he likes the challenge of getting a team to the top more than keeping a team there. He's also said that he doesn't want to coach another college team, which leaves two options - retire or go to the NFL. Saban's one-year stint with the Dolphins in 2005-06 didn't go well, but succeeding in the NFL is the only thing he has left to accomplish in his coaching career. Atlanta presents an opportunity for quick success, something he needs at 63 years old.
Gase is only in his second season as the offensive coordinator in Denver, but he’s already guided the best offense in league history. He’s proven he can handle star players and their egos. Gase will be the most sought-after candidate, and Atlanta might be one of the best jobs available this offseason.
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