FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Without getting into specific names, coach Dan Quinn confirmed he has interviewed two candidates for the Atlanta Falcons' offensive coordinator position. Quinn offered no firm timetable on when he wants a new one in place.
"I would say there's nothing to announce today," Quinn said with a smile. "I'm not going to put like two weeks or a week [on it], but it's not in the next few days."
Quinn fired offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian along with defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel and special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong following a 7-9 season. Quinn will handle the defensive coordinator role, meaning he has only two coordinator voids to fill. He plans to interview coaches currently in the playoffs, with the possibility of a few candidates becoming available after this weekend's wild-card games.
Quinn reportedly already interviewed Mike Mularkey for the offensive coordinator role, according to Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio. Mularkey held the same position for the Falcons from 2008-11 and was Matt Ryan's first NFL offensive coordinator. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Falcons were scheduled to interview former Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell this week. Bevell won a Super Bowl on the Seahawks' staff when Quinn was the defensive coordinator.
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter, who was the Falcons' offensive coordinator from 2012-14, will interview with Quinn on Saturday, according to a source. Koetter has received "lots" of calls from teams regarding a coaching position, so a return to Atlanta is no guarantee. Ryan has spoken highly about his relationship with Koetter in the past.
There also has been speculation about former Denver Broncos and Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak being in the mix for the Falcons, but Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway said he expects Kubiak to remain in Denver in some type of role. Kubiak now works in the Broncos' front office. Of the candidates mentioned, Kubiak would appear to be the one best suited to carry out the outside-zone scheme the Falcons currently use, a scheme that led to a Super Bowl run when Kyle Shanahan was Atlanta's offensive coordinator. Shanahan was offensive coordinator in Houston when Kubiak was the Texans' head coach.
Quinn wouldn't bite when a reference was made to looking toward the "Rocky Mountains" for a new offensive coordinator.
"As I cast a wide net, you better make sure you're going through the process that you can to explore all avenues," Quinn said. "What I can say, there's a lot of people that want to be here. ... There were a lot of calls, I could say, of people that wanted to be part of this."
Quinn was asked, with next season being so critical, if it's important to have an offensive coordinator with whom Ryan is familiar moving forward.
"I would not say familiarity is the topic," Quinn said. "But what is [the topic] is adaptation to the scheme. And so that familiarity is really important, to make sure the vision of how we want to play stays very consistent here. We've got a good scheme, and how we can feature that in different ways, I think, is most important.
"But we're not having wholesale changes on how we play in terms of a system. Not only is it important for the players and for the staff, but also for [general manager] Thomas [Dimitroff] and his staff as well in terms of players that we're scouting for to fit the system. I think adaptability is probably the top factor going in."
Quinn also was pressed on whether Ryan would have a say in the next coordinator.
"Well, I think Matt has input because of his familiarity with the offense," Quinn said. "But as far as going to select people, that's not part of his influence. ... He has a part of it, but not part of who, if that makes sense."
Again, Kubiak would appear to be best suited, but there's no guarantee he will be available. A player who ran Bevell's system in Seattle said the outside zone scheme was used regularly, along with the read-option offense for Russell Wilson. And although Koetter is known more for going vertical and leaning on play-action, he certainly has a sharp enough offensive mind to adapt to whatever Quinn feels works best.
Falcons offensive line coach Chris Morgan will remain on staff. Quinn and Dimitroff will count on Morgan to have the linemen prepared for better success in the scheme moving forward.
Quinn commented on whether he is absolutely married to the outside zone scheme.
"We'll have both outside and inside zone, for sure, and what ways we can feature the guys best," Quinn said. "It will definitely be still heavy emphasis on zone. But we're definitely -- new ideas, new ways to do things -- that's definitely a part of it. But not a wholesale change in terms of the philosophy.
"As far as new wrinkle part of it, adjustments? Yes. Whole changes to the scheme? No."
Quinn stated over and over all season how the run game was imperative for success, as it utilizes the outside zone and sets up play-action. But the Falcons were one of only six teams to average fewer than 100 rushing yards per game, finishing 27th with a 98.3-yard average. Of those bottom six teams, only the Philadelphia Eagles (28th at 98.1 ypg.) made the playoffs.
The next offensive coordinator has to stay committed to the run, something the Falcons didn't always do under Sarkisian. It will help to have two-time Pro Bowl running back Devonta Freeman back fully healthy next season as he comes off of groin surgery.
The Falcons also have to address their woes along the offensive line. The team needs more talent and physicality at the guard spots and possibly a new starting right tackle. Ryan Schraeder was benched at season's end, and Ty Sambrailo remains an unknown despite a couple of impressive starts.
In terms of Quinn looking at coaches currently in the playoff field, the Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Chargers and Dallas Cowboys are the outside-zone teams remaining, while the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens are more inside-zone teams.