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Jaguars Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith to Atlanta Falcons

By River City Rage

Posted on Wed Jan 23, 2008 at 12:59:02 PM EDT


One of the best signs that you've "arrived" as an organization is when other teams start raiding your staff. While we're nowhere near as attacked as the Dallas Cowboys Front Office, we've had a good amount of interviews in the last few weeks. Mike Tice interviewed with the Dolphins, Gene Smith and Mike Smith interviewed for the General Manager and Head Coach positions in Atlanta.

It seems that today we'll find out that Mike Smith is the inheritor of the Head Coach title in Atlanta:

The Atlanta Falcons are expected to select Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Smith as their next head coach, according to league sources. An announcement could come as soon as Wednesday afternoon.

Smith, Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, Dallas offensive coordinator Jason Garrett (who withdrew from consideration to remain with the Cowboys), and highly-regarded defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, late of the Baltimore Ravens, each interviewed with Dimitroff after the Falcons hired the former New England Patriots college scouting director on Jan. 13.

Frazier, the most recent entry, really impressed new Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and is believed to have been the Falcons' second choice.

But Smith, 48, won over the Falcons with his combination of intelligence, communication and organizational skills, and strong knowledge of personnel. Most important, the team believes Smith to be the most professionally compatible with Dimitroff.

First off, good for him. Atlanta is going to be one **** of a challenge, both in fixing a broken organization in regards to the actual talent and playing style, and also in the mental health of the team. Mike is just the type of guy who can compensate for the flaws of that team as it takes time to develop into something that even appears to be an NFL team.

Also, credit to Atlanta for not signing flash and (hopefully) not expecting a playoff run next season. Mike is the kind of coach that you give some time to, not the guy who comes in and gives you a one year turnaround.

Mike's biggest talent is in his ability to call defensive plays that compensate for the faults of his defense. Let's not forget the injury riddled Jaguars teams he's coached to greatness. He's got a way of making the loss of important players seem insignificant, and more importantly, if it comes down to guessing run or pass, nobody guesses better than Mike Smith.

Unfortunately for the Jaguars, this means we've lost a rock at Defensive Coordinator. Ask Vic saysAssistant Head Coach/ Secondary Dave Campo and Linebackers Coach Mark Duffner are the leading in house candidates . Of course, being the Defensive Coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars should be considered a pretty top end job, because of what it implies. Our defense, even with a little slipping from last year, is known for being tough, and Coaches would kill to be a part of that. We'd probably have our pick of the litter as far as DC's go.

Me? I'd prefer we stay in house, just cause I like consistency. But, there's something to be said about a breath of fresh air. As long as Mike Smith doesn't raid our coaching staff to make his staff, I don't see this as a bad thing.

It goes back to the respect thing, teams that raid us for Coaching Talent are giving us some credit. Even if it's just Atlanta.

You can't stop change like this, but at least it gives us something else to talk about.

For more Falcons based insight on Mike Smith, please visit The Falcohlic


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Join jaguars.com senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Mike from St. Augustine, FL: With reference to the recent front-office reorganization, was this primarily a cost-saving consolidation of jobs or a personnel decision?

Vic: I think it s obvious the Jaguars wanted to advance Gene Smith. He had been interviewed by the Falcons for their personnel director s job and he would ve likely been targeted by other teams in the future. He s a guy the Jaguars don t want to lose. I think that was the main impetus.

Thomas from Jacksonville: Where are we picking in the draft, 26th or 27th? Since the Giants are in the Super Bowl, that should move them to 31 or 32, right?

Vic: The Giants are a 10-6 team that would ve drafted ahead of the Jaguars. Since they are in the Super Bowl, they will draft last in April, win or lose, because the Patriots lost their first-round pick in Spygate. As a result of the Giants win over the Packers, the Jaguars moved up from 27th to 26th. The Jaguars are one of two 11-5 teams; San Diego is the other one. San Diego will draft 27th. The Jaguars and Chargers will alternate their order throughout the seven rounds of the draft.

Hasso from Jacksonville: What do you think about the team's status at left tackle with Khalif Barnes and Richard Collier, and what do you think about the tackles in the draft? Is this a position where the Jags could be looking to spend a first-round pick?

Vic: The Jaguars have some depth at tackle, but tackle is such a premium position that you can never have too many good ones. If a tackle is the best available player when it s the Jaguars turn to pick, he should be their pick or the Jaguars should trade out of that slot. That s my opinion.

Logan from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: What draft compensation did the Jaguars receive for trading Alvin Pearman to Seattle?

Vic: The Jaguars will receive Seattle s fifth-round pick in this year s draft. The Jaguars gave Seattle Pearman and a seventh-round pick for the Seahawks fifth-round pick.

Matthew from Baltimore, MD: Has any team ever signed another team s franchise player and given up two first-round draft picks? It just seems like too high a price to pay for any player, even Tom Brady.

Vic: It s happened. Carolina signed Sean Gilbert when he had been franchised by the Redskins. It was one of the moves that began the Panthers fall from an AFC title game berth in 1996 to 7-9 in 97 and 4-12 in 98. The Cowboys did it with Joey Galloway. I can t remember if the Cowboys ended up technically doing it as a trade, but Galloway was a franchise player and it cost the Cowboys two first-round picks, so it was the same thing and it was also a regrettable decision.

Jim from Jacksonville: It looks like to me all you need is a QB that is a good thrower, an offensive line and a TE and WR that can catch. You will win every game because no defensive back in the league can stop you with all the rules they put in to help the offense score points, making the game more like basketball than football. Every day there is a new offensive record. Players are no better today than they were 10 years ago. It's the rules.

Vic: I think you ve exaggerated your point, but there s a lot of merit to what you re saying. It s never been easier in this league to play quarterback. That s a fact.

Matthew from Baltimore, MD: What's your opinion of Owen Schmitt? He seems like the kind of football player that Jack Del Rio would like.

Vic: He s a rugged player and Del Rio likes rugged players. Schmitt s an interesting guy. He s pure power at the fullback position. How many facemasks did he break, 11? He also appears to have some straight-line speed and pass-catching ability. What I don t know is how athletic he is. Is he, for example, athletic enough to block in space on a linebacker? The offseason workouts will answer that question.

Lock from Jacksonville: Do you think the Jags will be making any big-name trades or free-agent signings this offseason?

Vic: I expect the Jaguars to make some significant additions in free agency.

Sonny from Jacksonville: Did you see the huge TV ratings for the weekend's NFC and AFC championship games? Are you surprised the NFL continues to grow in popularity while all of the other sports seem to be fighting declining interest?

Vic: I didn t see the ratings but I ll take your word for it. The Giants-Packers game was a no-brainer. It was a fantastic football game; competitive from beginning to end. It went into overtime, of course, which lengthened its rating period. I don t know if the other sports are experiencing declining interest. TV ratings may be down but that s largely a product of so many channels available to viewers nowadays. The NFL s popularity, in my opinion, no longer requires measurement. The NFL is now woven into the fabric of America. I was thinking to myself, what if there was a player strike, as there was in 1982 when seven games were cancelled? It would be a catastrophe. America wouldn t know what to do with itself. America is football. It s especially NFL football and its popularity is undeniable.

Andrew from Odessa, TX: What is the state of the future of the Patriots? I know the defense is very old and most of them might be gone in the near future. So what do you think?

Vic: The state of Tom Brady is the state of the Patriots. That s all. Brady is 30 years old. He s at the peak of his career and should be able to maintain that peak status for another five years or so. What does that tell you about the state of the Patriots?

Matthew from Kingsland, GA: With Mike Smith leaving for Atlanta, who will replace him?

Vic: Yeah, ESPN is reporting that Smitty s gonna get the job. That s great news. We re all happy for him. Replacing him will be a tall order. Don t minimize Mike s contribution to this defense. He and Jack Del Rio held this thing together the last couple of seasons when injuries took a heavy toll. Truth be known, the personnel on the field wasn t that good the last two seasons, but the coaching was fantastic. Two names on the staff immediately come to mind as possible replacements: Dave Campo and Mark Duffner. I expect Del Rio to also take a look outside the organization, consider all of the candidates available to him and then pick the best one. I know that s not giving you much information, but let s wait until Smitty is announced, OK? The Jaguars defensive coordinator position is a premium job. There will be lots of top candidates.

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