Falcons add depth to coaching staff

The Atlanta Falcons have a new quarterbacks coach. More importantly perhaps, they have a new backup offensive coordinator.

They reportedly have hired Bob Bratkowski as their quarterbacks coach. That’s an important role, and Bratkowski will take over helping with the continuing development of Matt Ryan. The job came open when Bill Musgrave, the only quarterbacks coach Ryan has played for in the NFL, left to become offensive coordinator in Minnesota.

Musgrave had been viewed as the heir apparent as offensive coordinator in Atlanta if coordinator Mike Mularkey moved on to a head-coaching job. But Musgrave got his chance to move up to a bigger role with the Vikings and the Falcons didn’t stand in the way -- even though they could have blocked the move because Musgrave remained under contract.

Mularkey interviewed for the coaching job in Cleveland shortly before Musgrave left, but did not get hired. There were some nervous moments in Atlanta in recent weeks when Mularkey interviewed for the top job with the Tennessee Titans. With Musgrave already gone, there were no real in-house candidates to take Mularkey’s place if he left for the Titans. That job ended up going to Mike Munchak, and Mularkey is staying with the Falcons.

But another strong season by the Falcons in 2011 could raise Mularkey’s stock even more, and he could get a top job after this season. That’s why coach Mike Smith made a good hire with Bratkowski. He’s worked with quarterbacks before, and is widely credited with the development of Carson Palmer in Cincinnati.

Bratkowski was Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator from 2001 to 2010. He also did a stint as Seattle’s offensive coordinator. His main job for now will be working with Ryan. But adding Bratkowski gives the Falcons an immediate option at offensive coordinator if Mularkey moves on in the future.