The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Bill Belichick will have second interview with Atlanta Falcons

Bill Belichick is in conversations with the Falcons after leaving the Patriots last week. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)
5 min

Bill Belichick is scheduled to participate in a second interview with the Atlanta Falcons this weekend for their coaching vacancy, according to a person familiar with the deliberations, as the two sides attempt to determine whether they believe such a pairing would work.

The Falcons have moved quickly and aggressively in their conversations with Belichick, who parted ways with the New England Patriots last week after six Super Bowl triumphs over 24 seasons. Atlanta has established itself as the early front-runner to land the legendary coach.

Belichick, 71, has 333 career coaching victories, including postseason games, and is 14 wins shy of Don Shula’s NFL record. The Falcons would be his third NFL head coaching job, following the Cleveland Browns and the Patriots.

Jerry Jones says the Cowboys will retain Mike McCarthy as head coach

Belichick appears intent upon continuing to coach. Some within the league believe if he does end up in Atlanta, his coaching staff probably would include former New England associates such as Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia and Joe Judge.

McDaniels was fired in November as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. Patricia, the former coach of the Detroit Lions, is a senior defensive assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles and took over their defensive play-calling duties in the season’s final stages. Judge, the former coach of the New York Giants, most recently was back on Belichick’s staff with the Patriots.

Belichick’s sons, Steve and Brian, also were on his staff and reportedly have been offered the opportunity to remain in New England by the Patriots’ new coach, Jerod Mayo. But they could opt to work for their father in Atlanta instead if the Falcons hire Belichick.

Bill Belichick’s next job? Here are the potential destinations.

Belichick’s conversations with the Falcons are believed to be more of a two-way discussion, given Belichick’s stature and experience, about how things would work rather than the traditional interview dynamic of a team evaluating a candidate.

The Falcons announced Monday that they had conducted a first interview with Belichick. That discussion is believed to have included only Belichick and Falcons owner Arthur Blank. The league-owned NFL Network reported that the second interview also will include Falcons General Manager Terry Fontenot and Rich McKay, the franchise’s CEO.

Belichick had the final say over a player-related decisions in New England. It’s unclear whether his authority over the roster would be as extensive in Atlanta. Before leaving the Patriots in what he and team owner Robert Kraft described as a mutual decision, Belichick had expressed a willingness to relinquish his final say over the roster. Kraft said after the parting was announced that he believed it would have been difficult to reduce Belichick’s authority.

Mike Tomlin tells Steelers players he plans to remain their coach

Blank fired Arthur Smith as the Falcons’ coach hours after the team completed its third straight 7-10 season. The Falcons have not reached the playoffs since the 2017 season and lack a franchise quarterback. But Belichick might feel he can compete in a division, the NFC South, that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won this season with a modest 9-8 record.

The Falcons reached the Super Bowl under Smith’s predecessor, Dan Quinn, in the 2016 season but famously squandered a 28-3 lead to lose, 34-28, in overtime to Belichick and the Patriots.

The Falcons are one of seven NFL teams searching for a new head coach, along with the Raiders, Carolina Panthers, Los Angeles Chargers, Washington Commanders, Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks. Belichick is not known to have participated in interviews with any other teams.

The Patriots promoted Mayo from linebackers coach last week on the day after their parting with Belichick, utilizing the coach succession plan written into his contract that meant they did not have to comply with the NFL’s minority interviewing requirements. Mayo became the first Black head coach in Patriots history.

Tomlin confirms he will stay with Steelers

Mike Tomlin confirmed Thursday he plans to remain as coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers next season.

Tomlin’s contract has one season remaining on it. He told his players and members of his coaching staff Tuesday that he intends to stay.

“Yes, I expect to be back,” Tomlin said at a news conference Thursday. “And I would imagine that those contract things are going to run their course. … I don’t imagine it’s going to be an issue. And I imagine it’s going to get done in a timely manner at the appropriate time. But my mind-set is to coach this football team, certainly.”

The Steelers’ season ended with a playoff loss Monday to the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y. Tomlin left his postgame news conference when he was asked about his contract without answering the question.

“In a little better mood today, man,” Tomlin said at the outset of Thursday’s news conference. “Anybody got any contract questions? I’ll say this: I certainly could have handled that situation better than I did. But I’ll also say this: I just believe there’s a time and place for everything. And postgame press conferences are probably not the place to address contract issues and things of that nature.”