Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Falcons shake up staff

Patriots receiver Danny Amendola beats Falcons safety Keanu Neal as New England overcomes a 25-point deficit.

Getty Images

Patriots receiver Danny Amendola beats Falcons safety Keanu Neal as New England overcomes a 25-point deficit.

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.

Falcons shake up staff 02/08/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 8, 2017 10:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs start strong vs. Jaguars


    JACKSONVILLE — On his worst pass of Thursday's preseason game against the Jaguars, Jameis Winston threw a ball from the seat of his pants toward the end zone and it appeared to be intercepted by safety Barry Church.

    Doug Martin gets the Bucs’ only touchdown of the first half on a 2-yard run, squeaking past Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith in the first quarter.
  2. Rays journal: Archer has strong outing, with two mistakes

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Two pitches RHP Chris Archer didn't execute are the ones that stood out Thursday as Josh Donaldson hit them out of the park. But the two solo home runs aside, Archer turned in a sterling outing that went atop the pile of good pitching the Rays keep wasting.

    Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) works during the first inning. [Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP]
  3. Tim Tebow continues wowing fans as he wraps up bay area games


    CLEARWATER — Tracey Fritzinger has seen Tim Tebow play baseball a few times this year. The 40-year-old St. Petersburg resident went to two of his games against the Tampa Yankees, along with Joy, her little sister from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

    St. Lucie Mets outfielder Tim Tebow, middle, hangs out in the dugout during Thursday night’s game against the Clearwater Threshers at Spectrum Field, the last of St. Lucie’s eight-day trip to the Tampa Bay area.
  4. Rays vs. Mariners, 7:10 Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Mariners

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun, 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) in the dugout during the ninth inning of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, April 2, 2017. The Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 7-3.
  5. Rays waste repeated opportunities in 5-3 loss to Blue Jays (w/video)

    The Heater

    TORONTO — The signs of frustration were readily apparent as the Rays trudged toward home Thursday after another game littered with squandered opportunities evolved into another wasted day in the wild-card race with a 5-3 loss to the Blue Jays.

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter reacts as Justin Smoak circles the bases after hitting a go-ahead two-run home run in the eighth.