The Atlanta Falcons have no intention of suffering from a Super Bowl hangover as they have swiftly finalized their search for an offensive coordinator by inking former USC head coach, Steve Sarkisian. Sarkisian will be filling the void created by former OC Kyle Shanahan, who will be taking over head coaching duties for the San Francisco 49ers. Sarkisian will inherit the NFL’s No. 1 ranked offense from 2016, and will have plenty of weapons at his disposal to get Atlanta back in contention after their agonizing defeat to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI.
It’s rare that two offensive coordinators have as much attention surrounding them as the departing Shanahan and arriving Sarkisian. Shanahan leaves the Falcons as a top scapegoat for Atlanta’s Super Bowl collapse. His aggressive play calling has been pegged as a prime reason for the Falcon offense sputtering down the stretch. To be fair, it was that same aggressive play calling that put the Falcons in that situation in the first place.
Sarkisian is an even more polarizing figure, and has been in and out of headlines since his tumultuous days as a head coach and offensive coordinator with USC. The former BYU quarterback is coming off a brutal loss himself, as he replaced Lane Kiffin as Alabama’s offensive coordinator for their loss to Clemson in the 2017 National Championship Game. The job with the Falcons will be his first NFL coaching gig since his days as a quarterback coach for the Oakland Raiders in 2004, making it a bit puzzling that the Falcons were so eager to bring him on board.
While the move seems to be a bit of a head-scratcher, Sarkisian does already have familiarity with one Atlanta Falcons player – cornerback Desmond Trufant. The defensive back played for Sarkisian when he was a head coach at the University of Washington. Clearly excited about Atlanta’s decision, Trufant gave a roaring review of his former collegiate coach, saying, “he’s competitive as hell. He’s got like a burning fire in his eyes. When he’s locked in, you just feel the intensity and energy from him. It’s like he’s playing. And he’s a great leader, great motivator. That’s dope, man. I’m excited for him and happy for him.”
Atlanta has to put their loss behind them to begin the process of making a return to the Super Bowl. Having Sarkisian and the Falcons’ offense quickly assimilate will be an imperative step in completing the process.
Source: AL.com, Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports