<
>

Atlanta Falcons receivers will miss departing coach Terry Robiskie

Assistant Terry Robiskie is leaving the Falcons to become the Tennessee Titans' offensive coordinator. AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

Devin Hester spent just the past two seasons alongside Terry Robiskie, but the Atlanta Falcons receiver/kick returner still managed to establish a close bond with his wide receivers coach.

That bond extended beyond the football field, as Hester quickly discovered.

"He definitely was like a father figure," Hester said of Robiskie. "He would talk to you about life. He has three boys, and I have two boys. I would ask him little small stuff on how to raise sons. When little incidents came up with my kids, I'd ask him, 'How did you go about disciplining them in this situation? Did you take away their toys?'

"And I also would ask him, 'What was your way of making your wife feel more special and not just making her feel like she was just a house wife?' Just little things like that, we talked about."

Robiskie, who according to ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky is leaving Atlanta to become Tennessee's offensive coordinator, will be missed. Robiskie will work under newly named Titans head coach and ex-Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey. Robiskie, who started his coaching career in 1982 (as the Los Angeles Raiders' assistant special teams coach) spent the past eight seasons with the Falcons, mentoring Pro Bowl receivers in Julio Jones and Roddy White while also developing younger talents such as rookie Justin Hardy.

"He was a cool coach, and he got along with everybody," Hardy said of Robiskie. "He always kept it 100."

After the Falcons parted ways with head coach Mike Smith last season, Robiskie was retained by new head coach Dan Quinn. It didn't appear as if Robiskie had much input in the offensive game-planning put together by new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Still, Robiskie had the ears of the receivers and was well-respected by all of them.

"His coaching style was to make things as easy as possible for you," Hester said. "Everything he did, he wanted to make it easier for the player to understand."

Hardy said the message Robiskie preached was simple, indeed.

"Play fast and just run," Hardy said.

Robiskie's departure leaves the Falcons with a decision ahead regarding his role. Mike McDaniel was brought in by Shanahan as an offensive assistant to work alongside Robiskie. Although McDaniel obviously knows Shanahan's scheme, it will be up to Quinn to decide whether McDaniel merits the opportunity to be the lead guy working with the likes of Jones, White and the rest of the receivers.

The other interesting dynamic about Robiskie's departure is it could add yet another possible destination for the veteran White if he's unable to finish out the final two years of his contract in Atlanta. White wants to be a Falcon for life, and Quinn previously expressed admiration for the leadership skills White displayed. Plus White has the backing of owner Arthur Blank, so it appears he won't be going anywhere.

Regardless of what group of receivers takes the field for the Falcons next season, it will be odd to see the charismatic Robiskie not leading them.

"He's a very likable guy; a players' coach," receiver Nick Williams said. "At a high-pressure position, he did a good job of taking the edge off. He was solid with keeping the room together, which is something that is sometimes difficult in a wide receiver room. And he was just a fun guy to play for. In a high-stakes business, he was able to take a unique approach -- did what he had to do to get people to play comfortably and confidently.

"He's also a well-networked guy. If you go to a game, there are 50 people on the sideline every game that Terry knows and helped along their careers."