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Why Atlanta Falcons’ Coach Mike Smith Shouldn’t Be on the Hot Seat This Year… No Matter What

September 24th, 2013 at 5:14 PM
By Graham Waldrop

'Coach Mike Smith' photo (c) 2013, Thomson20192 - license:

Mike Smith has ushered in a new culture to the Atlanta Falcons.  That new culture is all about consistency.  Before he arrived, the Falcons never had back to back winning seasons.  Since his arrival in 2008, Coach Smith has gone 58-30 and never had a losing season for a franchise that has never known the definition of what winning really was.  Constantly, Atlanta has had to endure horrendously bad, 10 games below .500 types of seasons on a yearly basis.

With this new winning culture, and after he finally got his first playoff victory last year, it perplexes Falcons 101 why Mike Smith is already on the hot seat according to many fans because of the Falcons disappointing 1-2 start.

The Falcons have an abundance of problems.  Their offensive line lets the pocket collapse with regularity, the young secondary is getting torn up, and there are five projected starters that are not playing right now due to injury.  There are also two players who are at the top of the depth chart that are battling nagging injuries and aren't playing up to their potential because of this (Roddy White, Asante Samuel).  

With the injuries playing a huge difference in how the Falcons are performing, how can any of this be Mike Smith's fault?  He can't control if a player is injured or not injured, and the injuries right now are hampering the Falcons on both sides of the ball. Yes, it seems like his teams have a tendency to start off strong and finish slow, and have trouble in the red zone. These are all concerning and valid issues.  But you can't deny the man his 58-30 record, and how he, Thomas Dimitroff and Matt Ryan have turned this ship around one year after the Michael Vick dog fighting scandal of 2007.  

That's not to say that there aren't things the Falcons can do better.  The offense has been reduced to short screens and 10 yard passes because the offensive line can't hold a block for more than a second.  The CBs are still young and still learning how to play at the NFL level.  But the Falcons have been in every game they've played, even the two heartbreaking losses to New Orleans and Miami.  

A lot of the time, the head coach gets the blame for these situations, and sometimes rightly so. But Mike Smith has done enough during his tenure so far to ensure that Falcons fans should not give up on the man who is affectionately called around these parts: "Smitty."

Even if the Falcons were to go 6-10 or 7-9 this year, there's absolutely no reason to believe that Arthur Blank would fire Mike Smith after all the injuries this team has suffered this year.  Better yet, he shouldn't fire him after all the good he's done for this franchise after one bad year, even if this is the year that many people thought Smith would bring home that elusive Super Bowl Championship.

The injuries are out of his control, and this Falcons bunch which was built around the high octane offense is being hampered by injuries to Steven Jackson and especially Roddy White, not to mention that offensive line struggling.

It's early, White and Jackson can be healthy again.  The offensive line, even though the pocket collapses on them, didn't allow a sack last week.  That's a bit of progress.  We as fans need to be patient with this team after all the injuries they've suffered.  It's not like they're getting blown out.

Now the Falcons do have to find a way to finish games, because this is becoming a disturbing trend.  The Falcons build a lead, go completely numb and then blow it, even in victories this is happening.  Coach Smith can partially be held responsible for this, but there is absolutely no way anyone can say at this stage, three games into the NFL season, that the best coach this franchise has ever had should be fired after a 1-2 start.




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Tags: Arthur Blank, Atlanta, Atlanta Falcons, Football, Matt Ryan, Mike Smith, NFL, Roddy White, Steven Jackson, Thomas Dimitroff

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