Falcons announce assistant coach changes

The Falcons added a new secondary coach and lost a veteran offensive coach to retirement on Thursday.

Joe Whitt Jr. comes to Atlanta after a spend last season as the pass game coordinator/secondary coach in Cleveland and a 11-year stint with the Packers before that.

"We welcome Joe to our coaching staff and back to Atlanta. He has a history of coaching defensive backs that play with an aggressive attitude with a focus on takeaways," Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said in a team statement.

Whitt had a hand in the top-10 Browns defense last season, which tallied 14 interceptions (eighth in the NFL) and allowed 216.9 yards per game, seventh in the league. In Green Bay, he helped the Packers win Super Bowl XLV and had coached them to a league-high 176 interceptions, 83.2 opponent passer rating and 1.34 touchdown-to-interception ration, seventh in the league.

Meanwhile, the Falcons also announced tight ends coach Mike Mularkey will retire after 25 years of coaching in the NFL. He had returned last season as the tight ends coach after holding the offensive coordinator title from 2008 to 2011. He also spent time as the head coach of the Titans and of the Jaguars. 

"I’ve been blessed to do this for a long time and have a lot of great memories from the game I love," Mularkey said in a team statement. "I’ve also missed a lot of time with my family who I love and who has supported me so much throughout my career. I am looking forward to spending even more time with them and making even more memories."

Under Mularkey's watch, fourth-year tight end Austin Hooper had a career year even though he missed three games due to injury, catching 75 passes for 787 yards and six touchdowns. He had five games with seven or more receptions, topping 100 yards in two games, including a career-high 130 yards on nine catches against the Titans in Week 4. Mularkey also helped develop Yale product Jaeden Graham, who was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster this season, played in all 16 contests, especially stepping in when Hooper was hurt.

"What an awesome career for Mike," Quinn said in a team statement. "When you look back at his 25-year coaching career, you’ll not only see a great coach, but you’ll also see an unbelievable human being and leader. Mike has been a great asset for our organization and for me personally. We wish he and his family well and congratulate him on a well-deserved retirement."