FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — After squandering a 25-point lead in the Super Bowl, the Falcons are shaking up their defensive staff.
Coordinator Richard Smith and defensive line coach Bryan Cox were dismissed Wednesday, though Smith might stay in an advisory role. The Falcons said the decision to dismiss Smith and Cox was not based on the defense's collapse in the Super Bowl, when Atlanta allowed 546 yards and 37 first downs, and that owner Arthur Blank did not demand changes.
Also, Falcons quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur was named offensive coordinator of the Rams, and Keith Carter was promoted to running backs coach with Bobby Turner reportedly leaving for San Francisco.
To replace Smith, the Falcons are considering defensive backs coach and former Gator Marquand Manuel, linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich and defensive passing game coordinator Jerome Henderson.
Under Smith, the Falcons showed significant improvement over the second half of the season and two playoff victories with a unit that often started as many four rookies and four second-year players.
Smith and Cox didn't immediately respond to text messages seeking comment.
EAGLES: Cornerback Leodis McKelvin was released, saving $3.2 million in salary cap space. McKelvin started 12 games in his only season in Philadelphia after eight seasons with the Bills.
JETS: Jeremy Bates was hired for a second stint as quarterbacks coach. Bates, 40, the son of former UF assistant and Bucs defensive coordinator Jim Bates, had the same job with New York under Herm Edwards in 2005. He began his career as a Bucs assistant from 2002-04.
PAckerS: Cornerback Sam Shields was released. He was never cleared from the concussion protocol after getting hurt in the season opener.