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Falcons will try, but likely fail, to lure Carroll away from USC

Like a quarterback going through his passing progressions, Falcons owner Arthur Blank is looking to each possible high-profile target.

He tried, but failed, to lure Bill Cowher to Atlanta.

He then did the same with Bill Parcells.

Now, he is expected to meet a similar result with Pete Carroll, just as he did when he reached out to the USC head coach last year, according to those who know Carroll.

Carroll rejected Blank's overtures last year to become the Falcons head coach, and one person close to Carroll said Wednesday the USC coach will absolutely, unequivocally do the same this year.

"Pete looked at it last year and lost interest," the person said. "Nothing is different. There's nothing going on there. He's not even entertaining the idea of going. Atlanta doesn't fit at all."

So a main storyline Tuesday was Cowher's lack of interest in returning to the NFL at this time. A main storyline Wednesday is Carroll not being interested in returning to the NFL at this time.

Asked if Blank and Redskins owner Daniel Snyder now could cross Carroll off their coaching wish list, the person said yes and added, "It's the wrong place, the wrong time, the wrong guy."

This is not to say that the 56-year-old Carroll, who was born in San Francisco, is tenured at USC and will be a lifer there. If he ever were to leave USC, where he has coached since December 2000, it would take an incredibly attractive situation that featured plenty of other appealing elements aside from money.

Blank might be willing to surrender lots of control to Carroll -– and the Falcons owner could make a recruiting trip to Los Angeles this weekend to pitch just that point -- but it would be challenging to give it all to him. The Falcons recently signed Rich McKay to a two-year extension, although he will remain team president while relinquishing general manager duties.

"Pete's not leaving college football unless it's awesome," one of Carroll's friends said. "He's not going where he's not totally in control. Why would he? He's the head coach and GM of USC."

Carroll also is becoming further entrenched in Los Angeles, a city in which he is beloved. Carroll and his wife are building a house in Manhattan Beach, and the USC coach continues to revel in the college recruiting that other coaches despise.

He has built a coaching empire in California and, according to those who know him, he is unwilling to abandon it for Atlanta or Washington.

Jet streams

Former Raiders head coach Bill Callahan helped turn Oakland into one of the NFL's top offenses earlier this decade, and he might be asked to do the same for the New York Jets.

With the Jets searching for an offensive line coach to help upgrade their running game, they turned to Callahan, whom Nebraska fired after last season. They arranged for Callahan to visit their training complex on Wednesday and interview with team officials.

Personnel executives around the league believe it is an ideal match, Callahan and the Jets. He would be able to help improve the Jets running game and provide another strong offensive mind to complement offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who interviewed for the Ravens head coaching job.

Callahan spent four seasons as Nebraska's head coach, compiling a 27-22 record. But now he is leaving school and headed back to the league in which he forged his reputation.

What goes around comes around

When Gary Kubiak was the Broncos offensive coordinator, Denver head coach Mike Shanahan teamed him with Alex Gibbs, one of the finest offensive line coaches in the history of the sport.

Gibbs supervised the running game, allowing Kubiak to learn from him and concentrate on the passing game. It worked. Denver's offense became one of the best of the league, and Kubiak became the Houston Texans head coach.

Now, Kubiak has lured the 66-year-old Gibbs out of retirement to help mentor his new offensive coordinator, the 28-year-old Kyle Shanahan, son of the Broncos coach. Gibbs will be instructed to strengthen the Texans offense and offensive line, as well as to groom Shahanan the way he once groomed Kubiak.

It's a great hire for the Texans. During each of the three seasons Gibbs coached the Falcons offensive line, Atlanta led the league in rushing. Houston now is bound to have an improved ground game and superb quarterback protection. As anyone around football knows, Gibbs is that good.

What's in a number?

Washington can't forget No. 21, the number its fallen safety Sean Taylor wore, no matter how hard it tries. Washington beat Dallas by 21 points to clinch a playoff spot. Washington lost its playoff game in Seattle by 21 points. Now, Washington is scheduled to select No. 21 in the NFL draft.

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