Yet another report has come out that Mike Smith’s tenure in Atlanta could be over soon. It’s been a weekly affair since the bye week where things weren’t looking so well. The team was 2-6 and on their way to a second consecutive losing season. This outcome is assured for the 2014 Falcons but I don’t think anyone expected they would still be in the hunt for a division title and a playoff home game.
It’s not an ideal situation but we as Falcons fans have to embrace it for the opportunity it is. We have a team that could be undefeated in the division with a losing record and still make the playoffs. And I for one am not going to knock Mike Smith for it (that phantom timeout he took against Cleveland though is another matter). But let’s look at why I would be ok with the Falcons keeping The Dimitroff/Smith era for at least one more year:
- Mike Smith is the winningest coach in Falcons history
- The Falcons never had back-to-back winning seasons before this regime and are 4-2 in this respect
- In terms of seasons, the Falcons are 4-2 on reaching the playoffs with 2 division titles
Of course it’s not all sunshine and roses and there are some negatives with Mike Smith:
- The Falcons are 1-4 in the playoffs
- The team is yet to develop a consistent pass rush and have a statistically bad defense overall
- What does he really bring as head coach?
My conclusion: a one year, winner take all season for both GM and coach. I think they have earned a try at a season with little to no injuries and a full year into a 3-4 dominant defense to be properly evaluated. The pass rush Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan would prefer could come from a linebacking corps including Sean Weatherspoon, Prince Shembo, Paul Worrilow and another LB TBD (Biermann, Bartu, somebody else?). The DB crew would include a healthy Willam Moore and Robert Alford, plus Trufant, Ishmael and McClain at the Nickel. Another acquisition on the line could help Jackson and Babineaux get that push.
When the Falcons first hired Nolan I was told by a fan of a previous team he coached to be prepared for a rubber band defense: one that will bend but not break, give up a lot of yards but not a lot of points (think FGs over TDs). The defense the second half of the season has been much better. The run defense has especially improved over the past 4/5 games. They have also created more pressure and generated more turnovers.
Now onto the coach. Mike Smith has never been a big name or splash in the head coaching world. His name is Mike Smith for goodness sakes. But I think he’s been a levelheaded, even keeled constant for a team that was pure disfunction. The last two years have been injury plagued for the team and, aside from that timeout I talked about earlier, he’s been blunder free.
The all or nothing season gives Mike Smith the clearest picture for what he needs to accomplish next year.The game is starting now so time to rise up! Go Falcons!