Defensive coordinator exits, more change could come for Falcons

Bounced from the playoffs in abrupt fashion for the third time in four seasons, change is on the way for the Atlanta Falcons.

Whether some of it has been forced or not, no one is saying. But Brian VanGorder, the Falcons’ defensive coordinator for the past four seasons has departed to take the same position at Auburn. Chances are offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey could receive a head-coaching position. What trickle down there is to the staff of assistants remains to be seen.

Head coach Mike Smith wasn’t in the mood to give many hints on Monday, a day after a 24-2 loss at the New York Giants.

Yes, I was aware of it,” Smith said in regards to VanGorder’s talks with Auburn, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I really don’t want to get into the details and the timing of this news.”

Speculation is Smith could reunite with Jack Del Rio to replace VanGorder. Smith, of course, served as a defensive coordinator under Del Rio in Jacksonville before taking over the Falcons.

“I’m not going to comment on that position at this point in time. It’s something that just came about,” Smith said. “We’ll go through the due process of getting the best defensive coordinator for our football team.”

If Mularkey exits, it will be the start of a challenging offseason for the Falcons, who took a step back in the estimation of Smith. Remember, they were the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs last year when they were bounced by the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round.

“I’m very frustrated,” Smith said. “There are 60-something guys in that meeting room that were frustrated today. We have set the bar very high here with what we’ve accomplished as a football team and the expectations and the markers are much higher now. We’re very disappointed in the way that we performed in the playoff game.”

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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