Falcons hire Sarkisian as offensive coordinator

Sports Xchange

February 07, 2017 at 11:41 am.

Steve Sarkisian is Atlanta's new offensive coordinator.  Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Sarkisian is Atlanta’s new offensive coordinator. Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta didn’t wait long to replace outgoing offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, hiring Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian two days after its 34-28 overtime loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI.

Sarkisian, 42, joined the Crimson Tide as an offensive analyst last September and was promoted to interim offensive coordinator before Alabama faced Clemson in the College Football Playoff national championship game.

Alabama lost 35-31 but Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban made Sarkisian the permanent offensive coordinator replacing Lane Kiffin on Jan. 2. Kiffin was granted an early leave before the title game to become the coach at Florida Atlantic.

Shanahan was named the coach of the San Francisco 49ers on Monday, replacing Chip Kelly and joining newly-hired general manager John Lynch. Both Shanahan and Lynch received six-year contracts.

Under Shanahan, the Falcons had the NFL’s top-scoring offense (33.8 points per game). Shanahan’s offense opened a 28-3 lead on New England in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI, but stalled out and failed to score again.

Sarkisian has 17 years of coaching experience but only one in the NFL, serving as the Oakland Raiders’ quarterbacks coach in 2004. He was head coach at Washington from 2009 until 2013 and USC from 2014-15, going 46-35.

On Oct. 11, 2015, Sarkisian took a leave of absence from USC as he dealt with reported alcohol abuse problems. He was fired one day later.

Before becoming a head coach, Sarkisian was an assistant for the Trojans under former USC and current Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.

Carroll reached out to Sarkisian after the latter was fired and said the situation “(broke) his heart.”

Falcons coach Dan Quinn was Carroll’s defensive coordinator in Seattle before joining Atlanta and has a Saban connection of his own, having served as defensive line coach during Saban’s time with the Miami Dolphins.