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remdog
01-01-2007, 04:17 PM
Falcons Fire Mora After Another Disappointing Season
Jan 1, 1:47 PM (ET)

By GEORGE HENRY
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) -Atlanta fired coach Jim Mora on Monday, just two years after he led the Falcons to the NFC championship game.

The decision to dump the fiery coach followed two straight disappointing seasons. The Falcons lost six of their final eight games in 2005 to miss the playoffs, and they finished 7-9 this season by losing seven of the last nine contests.

Owner Arthur Blank made the announcement at the team's suburban training complex.

Atlanta went into the final weekend with a slim chance to slip into the playoffs with a .500 record. That ended Saturday night when the New York Giants won at Washington; the Falcons closed the season Sunday with a meaningless 24-17 loss at Philadelphia.

Mora's final game was in the same stadium where the Falcons lost to the Eagles for the NFC championship at the end of the 2004 season, coming up one victory short of the Super Bowl.


The 45-year-old Mora, son of longtime NFL coach Jim Mora, went 26-22 in three seasons as Atlanta's coach.

A former defensive coordinator in San Francisco, the younger Mora led the Falcons to the NFC South title in his rookie season. The team slumped to 8-8 a year ago, then endured his first losing record.

"I'm proud of the many things we accomplished here, even though we fell short of our goal to bring a Super Bowl title back home to these people," Mora said.

Mora had two years left on his contract, which was extended before this season.

"This was an extremely difficult decision for us," Blank said in a statement before holding an afternoon news conference. "We had the highest hopes and aspirations for a long run with Jim as our coach, but we feel this decision is in the best long-term interests of our franchise. I have great respect for Jim's passion for the game, and we wish Jim and his family all of the best."

Mora was a somewhat surprising choice when the Falcons hired him in 2004, passing over more prominent assistants such as Lovie Smith, who landed in Chicago and led the Bears to the best record in the NFC this season.

Mora was the second NFL coach fired Monday, following Arizona's Dennis Green.

"This is a tough business, and it takes tough people," Mora said. "If you can't take it, you don't belong. ... My goal is to be a head coach again and work in the NFL for another 20 years."

Mora's third season was his most difficult. The defense was weakened by injuries to star ends Patrick Kerney and John Abraham, while the offense had to make do without reliable receiver Brian Finneran, who tore up a knee in training camp.

But Mora's tenure also was marked by an odd series of off-field distractions, including the embarrassment he caused himself during a Seattle radio station interview before a crucial game against Dallas last month.

Mora said his "dream job" was to coach at the University of Washington, his alma mater, and that he'd jump at the chance to take it - even if the Falcons were in the middle of the playoffs. The fact the school already has a coach, Tyrone Willingham, only added to the embarrassment.

Mora claimed he was only kidding with the radio host, former college teammate Hugh Millen, but conceded that it didn't sound that way after listening to a tape of the interview.

The comments were broadcast nationally, upsetting Falcons fans and angering Blank. The coach was summoned to Blank's Atlanta office the day before the Dallas game to discuss the issue, then sent out alone before the media to make an apology.

Mora also endured an awkward situation created by his father. The senior Mora, also speaking on a radio show, agreed with a co-host that quarterback Michael Vick was a "coach killer."

Vick was clearly upset by the comment and left to wonder if the father's opinion was influenced by private comments from Atlanta's coach, who worked hard to patch up any rift by saying he would take Vick over anyone in NFL history if he was starting a team.

On the field, another second-half collapse was too much for Blank to take, though Mora's tenure was one of the most successful in the Falcons' mostly dismal history. He joins Leeman Bennett as the only coaches to leave with a winning record.

But expectations have been ratcheted up since Blank, a co-founder of Home Depot, bought the team three years ago and began spending freely to bolster the club's roster. Vick received the richest contract in NFL history, and the team gave up a first-round pick to sign Abraham to a lucrative deal.

Last month, Blank said that a second straight .500 finish would be unacceptable. After a devastating loss to Carolina in the next-to-last game, he reminded reporters about the statement without elaborating.

With the pressure mounting, Mora defended his record.

"I'm proud of this football team," he said after losing to the Panthers. "Our football team did some things that are overlooked when you lose a football game. We've won the most games in the NFC South for three years. We've got the fourth-most wins in the NFC over the last three years. We've played in the NFC championship game. We've won the NFC South. We've been in the hunt through 15 weeks last year and we're still in the hunt through the last week this year."

As the losses mounted, even those such as Vick, who had been publicly supportive in the past, seemed to lose faith in the coaching staff.

"It's a question that needs to be answered," Vick said. "We're too good to be losing these games. We should be up there among the elite."

On Sunday, Vick said he's worked well with Mora, but was noncommittal when asked if Blank should fire the coach.

Rem

Yachtzee
01-01-2007, 04:49 PM
It's not a good sign when your dad calls your star QB a "coach killer" and you then get caught on air talking about wanting the job at Washington, even if you were just joking. Couple that with your team's poor performance down the stretch and it's "curtains."

Jpup
01-01-2007, 04:51 PM
Michael Vick=Coach Killer.

Yet another system for him.

Caveat Emperor
01-01-2007, 05:11 PM
Michael Vick=Coach Killer.

Unless Blank is open to trading or cutting Vick, that Atlanta job is a death sentence for a coach.

It's impossible to win consistently with a QB as inconsistent as Vick. You'll have good runs, and you'll have bad runs, but you'll never be able to control when they happen.

Highlifeman21
01-01-2007, 05:24 PM
Unless Blank is open to trading or cutting Vick, that Atlanta job is a death sentence for a coach.

It's impossible to win consistently with a QB as inconsistent as Vick. You'll have good runs, and you'll have bad runs, but you'll never be able to control when they happen.


Atlanta should bring in a coach that knows how to run the option.

Vick is an erratic thrower, but has the great gift of speed.

The fact that he rushed for over 1000 yds this season is impressive, but when you also look at the fact that he set a career high with 19 TD passes, it really says something for him in terms of "coachability". He's not coachable. He's going to do what he wants to do, bottomline.

Great athlete, just seems to be a headcase.

captainmorgan07
01-01-2007, 06:29 PM
i kno vick will not do this but they need to move vick to wide reciever or running back if it's running back use 2 back system with him and warrick dunn resign schaub to play quaterback much better passer than vick

WVRed
01-01-2007, 07:32 PM
i kno vick will not do this but they need to move vick to wide reciever or running back if it's running back use 2 back system with him and warrick dunn resign schaub to play quaterback much better passer than vick

Nor should they.

1.Vick is not durable as it is, and at running back you are asking him to play the most physically demanding position in the league.

2.The Falcons have two very good RBs in Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood.

The biggest mistake the Falcons made was bringing in Mora in the first place. The plan was for Vick to learn the west coast offense, which really does not play to his strengths. Like it or not, Vick is always going to be a scrambling quarterback first.

Like I mentioned in the other thread, Norm Chow has been mentioned as a possibility. If you see what he has done with Vince Young at Tennessee and the QBs he has worked with (Rivers, Leinart, and Palmer), he has a track record that is hard to top.

macro
01-01-2007, 10:41 PM
After the radio comments, he deserved to be fired. As an owner or GM, I wouldn't want someone coaching the team that would rather be somewhere else, and he same as said he'd rather be at Washington. And I don't buy for a minute that he was kidding.

jmcclain19
01-02-2007, 01:51 AM
I totally buy that he was joking. I thought he was done after I read about the Washington comments, but once I heard them, it was a total 180. It blew me away that people couldn't pick up that blatent sarcasm.

Shows you how fickle NFL owners can be. Mora was the golden child - went 26-22 in three seasons, and just less than 15 months ago he was the "genius" hire of Atlanta after the Falcons were a sniff away from the Super Bowl.

Hopefully he goes somewhere in college football where he can be appreciated and have a bit more security.

Yachtzee
01-02-2007, 10:41 AM
I totally buy that he was joking. I thought he was done after I read about the Washington comments, but once I heard them, it was a total 180. It blew me away that people couldn't pick up that blatent sarcasm.

Shows you how fickle NFL owners can be. Mora was the golden child - went 26-22 in three seasons, and just less than 15 months ago he was the "genius" hire of Atlanta after the Falcons were a sniff away from the Super Bowl.

Hopefully he goes somewhere in college football where he can be appreciated and have a bit more security.

I never heard the quotes myself, but I would think he was joking too. But I usually follow the rule that, unless you've got an excellent relationship with your boss, you should never joke about your job if the boss may hear about it. You just never know how they're going to take it. Especially when you have a job in the public eye.

BenHayes
01-02-2007, 11:12 AM
The bottom line for any coach considering the job is Vick's uncoachability he has neither learned or shown the willingness to learn how to play quarterback. The difference between him and Vince Young is Young wants to be a quarterback instead of a sideshow, and has worked at learning the art of quarterbacking. Never at any level has Vick been anything more than a brilliant athlete with no decision making skills.

Hoosier Red
01-02-2007, 12:09 PM
I totally buy that he was joking. I thought he was done after I read about the Washington comments, but once I heard them, it was a total 180. It blew me away that people couldn't pick up that blatent sarcasm.

Shows you how fickle NFL owners can be. Mora was the golden child - went 26-22 in three seasons, and just less than 15 months ago he was the "genius" hire of Atlanta after the Falcons were a sniff away from the Super Bowl.

Hopefully he goes somewhere in college football where he can be appreciated and have a bit more security.

Alabama's still hiring.

Jpup
01-02-2007, 12:41 PM
Nor should they.

1.Vick is not durable as it is, and at running back you are asking him to play the most physically demanding position in the league.

2.The Falcons have two very good RBs in Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood.

The biggest mistake the Falcons made was bringing in Mora in the first place. The plan was for Vick to learn the west coast offense, which really does not play to his strengths. Like it or not, Vick is always going to be a scrambling quarterback first.

Like I mentioned in the other thread, Norm Chow has been mentioned as a possibility. If you see what he has done with Vince Young at Tennessee and the QBs he has worked with (Rivers, Leinart, and Palmer), he has a track record that is hard to top.

Norm Chow is a good QB coach, but he isn't much when it comes to Xs and Os. Arizona has asked for permission to talk with him about their opening. I would imagine they would be first on Chow's list above Atlanta. Chow has proved nothing in the NFL IMO. I would be happy to see him go either place.

Blimpie
01-02-2007, 07:14 PM
Norm Chow is a good QB coach, but he isn't much when it comes to Xs and Os. Arizona has asked for permission to talk with him about their opening. I would imagine they would be first on Chow's list above Atlanta. Chow has proved nothing in the NFL IMO. I would be happy to see him go either place.I have a tendency to disagree with statement. Over the years, his offensive schemes have bordered upon genius in their design. Much of the today's offensive success of USC has to be attributed to the contributions that Chow made when he joined the Trojans in 2001.

In case you couldn't tell, I have had a man-crush on Chow ever since he toyed with the idea of becoming UK's head coach a a few years ago....:(