The Atlanta Falcons have found their replacement for Kyle Shanahan.
Well, sort of.
Atlanta hired former Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian on Tuesday. While the Falcons filled a void, Jason La Canfora isn’t convinced that Sarkisian – who was terminated at USC and called plays for just one game at Alabama – is the right guy for the job.
“Eh, we’ll see,” the CBS Sports NFL insider said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “We’ll see. You’ve got to hope that he’s in a place where he’s going to be a contributing and functioning member of that team. That’s sort of a baseline. And will he be as dynamic, will he be the play-caller and sort of the general of that whole offense that Kyle Shanahan was? It’s big shoes to fill. I know Shanahan is a young guy and he’s going to live with the second half of that Super Bowl for, I guess, his entire life – or until he wins a Lombardi somewhere. But he’s one of the very, very best at what he does. He brought out the absolute best in Matt Ryan and that entire offense this year after a bit of a rocky road last year.”
While Sarkisian comes with question marks, it isn’t difficult to connect the Sarkisian-To-Atlanta dots.
“Look, Dan Quinn is part of the Pete Carroll (coaching) tree, and obviously Pete Carroll (coached) at USC,” La Canfora said. “So you can understand the familiarity there. You can understand the connections. But the timing of it and him sort of hopping to another job here now six weeks after just having taken the Alabama gig, it’s certainly odd.”
Quinn has the unenviable task of replacing both of his coordinators, as the Falcons have parted ways with defensive coordinator Richard Smith. The Atlanta defense got better as the season went on, but when the offense is scoring 35 points a game, it makes up for a lot of ills.
“Quinn knows they need to continue to make gains (on defense) because let’s face it: This offense might not be the same next year without Shanahan,” La Canfora said. “They’re going to have to get better on the defensive side of the ball if this is the lofty territory they aspire to now. They’re kind of getting back into Super Bowl-or-bust mode, and the margins are slim. That division will be better next year, and they’re going to play a tougher schedule.”