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'WE FOUND THE MAN WE WANTED' PER AJC


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'WE FOUND THE MAN WE WANTED'

Mike Smith era begins for Falcons

Dimitroff says he and new head coach agree on strategy, personnel

By STEVE WYCHE

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 01/25/08

Flowery Branch Thomas Dimitroff didn't know Jacksonville defensive coordinator Mike Smith. Mike Smith didn't know New England's director of college scouting Thomas Dimitroff.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank, in search of two men to run his football operation and coach his rudderless team, met both low-key, yet respected worker bees over the past few weeks Dimitroff via Web cam.

BRANT SANDERLIN / AJC

(ENLARGE)

Falcons owner Arthur Blank, right, makes Mike Smith the third head coach hired since he acquired the team in 2002. Jim Mora Jr. and Bobby Petrino were Blank's earlier hires.

Your Turn

Do you think Mike Smith is the right choice to be the Falcons new head coach?

Yes.

No.

Undecided.

Voter Limit: Once per Hour

View Poll Results

RELATED STORIES

VanGorder returns as defensive coordinator

Falcons' search for minorities questioned

Mike Smith era begins for Falcons

" More Falcons

He hired Dimitroff as his team's general manager and introduced Dimitroff to Smith, whom he and other team personnel interviewed during the early stages of the playoffs in person. Dimitroff liked what he saw and heard when they met last Friday, but he fell for Smith because they shared the same philosophy on football personnel, strategy, nurturing the product and employee character.

So Dimitroff, who, along with Blank on Thursday claimed the first-time GM acted on his own merit, hired Smith on Wednesday night as the Falcons' coach with Blank's approval.

"We had not met until [smith's] second interview, and when we had a chance to sit down it was like we had meshed and we had very similar thoughts not only on the philosophy of football but philosophy of personnel," Smith said at his introductory news conference at team headquarters. "We had a very, very good meeting. I think it's very important that we are going to be able to communicate and work together."

Dimitroff admitted Smith was not on the list of coaching candidates he provided Atlanta's search committee. Even so, Dimitroff said Smith was the most attractive candidate from a final group of four assistants Baltimore's Rex Ryan, Minnesota's Leslie Frazier and New York Giants' Steve Spagnuolo were the others so further exploration into the process was unwarranted.

Even for Spagnuolo, a long-time acquaintance of Dimitroff's who was unable to be interviewed until after the Giants play New England in the Super Bowl Feb. 3.

"We found the man we wanted," Dimitroff said.

The infusion of Dimitroff's and Smith's fresh leadership appears to be what this franchise needs, especially since it is trying to move forward from the wreckage that leveled everything from on-field performance to coach loyalty to player professionalism to fan affinity last season.

Yet Smith, 48, and Dimitroff, 41, are new to this, each having earned his keep in the background of other people with successful teams. Their willingness to cover each other's faults and share each other's strengths is why they feel this can actually work.

"This will be a growing process for myself and Coach Smith," Dimitroff said. "We both have definitive plans. We'll mesh well together. I'm very excited about our ability to be on the same page."

The starting point, Dimitroff said, is, "to sit down and talk about a system with Mike, as far as getting coaches in place, discussing exactly what type of players we want and what traits we want at every position so we can disseminate that to our scouting department and go forward."

Smith referred to himself as a cross between a disciplinarian and a players' coach.

On defense Smith plans to run a 4-3 scheme, as he did in Jacksonville. For clarity, Smith said he, along with head coach Jack Del Rio, installed the defensive game plan together, but on game days, Smith was the play caller. He added that he would keep the same structure in place in Atlanta.

He will help newly hired defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder install the system, but VanGorder will call the sets during games.

"Defensively, it starts with the guys up front, a strong defensive line," said Smith, who added he plans to utilize an attacking style.

Offensively, "we're not going to try to force guys into our scheme," Smith said. "We're going to try to create our scheme based on what guys are capable of doing."

The Falcons' quarterback situation is a major issue, Smith said, but one he is not ready to address. Smith said he has familiarity with Byron Leftwich, from Jacksonville, and Chris Redman, whom the Ravens drafted when he coached the defensive line in Baltimore.

He said he has schemed to defend Joey Harrington in Detroit, Miami and Atlanta. Smith has no familiarity with D.J. Shockley.

;)

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nativefalcon (1/24/2008)
'WE FOUND THE MAN WE WANTED'

Mike Smith era begins for Falcons

Dimitroff says he and new head coach agree on strategy, personnel

By STEVE WYCHE

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 01/25/08

Flowery Branch Thomas Dimitroff didn't know Jacksonville defensive coordinator Mike Smith. Mike Smith didn't know New England's director of college scouting Thomas Dimitroff.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank, in search of two men to run his football operation and coach his rudderless team, met both low-key, yet respected worker bees over the past few weeks Dimitroff via Web cam.

BRANT SANDERLIN / AJC

(ENLARGE)

Falcons owner Arthur Blank, right, makes Mike Smith the third head coach hired since he acquired the team in 2002. Jim Mora Jr. and Bobby Petrino were Blank's earlier hires.

Your Turn

Do you think Mike Smith is the right choice to be the Falcons new head coach?

Yes.

No.

Undecided.

Voter Limit: Once per Hour

View Poll Results

RELATED STORIES

VanGorder returns as defensive coordinator

Falcons' search for minorities questioned

Mike Smith era begins for Falcons

" More Falcons

He hired Dimitroff as his team's general manager and introduced Dimitroff to Smith, whom he and other team personnel interviewed during the early stages of the playoffs in person. Dimitroff liked what he saw and heard when they met last Friday, but he fell for Smith because they shared the same philosophy on football personnel, strategy, nurturing the product and employee character.

So Dimitroff, who, along with Blank on Thursday claimed the first-time GM acted on his own merit, hired Smith on Wednesday night as the Falcons' coach with Blank's approval.

"We had not met until [smith's] second interview, and when we had a chance to sit down it was like we had meshed and we had very similar thoughts not only on the philosophy of football but philosophy of personnel," Smith said at his introductory news conference at team headquarters. "We had a very, very good meeting. I think it's very important that we are going to be able to communicate and work together."

Dimitroff admitted Smith was not on the list of coaching candidates he provided Atlanta's search committee. Even so, Dimitroff said Smith was the most attractive candidate from a final group of four assistants Baltimore's Rex Ryan, Minnesota's Leslie Frazier and New York Giants' Steve Spagnuolo were the others so further exploration into the process was unwarranted.

Even for Spagnuolo, a long-time acquaintance of Dimitroff's who was unable to be interviewed until after the Giants play New England in the Super Bowl Feb. 3.

"We found the man we wanted," Dimitroff said.

The infusion of Dimitroff's and Smith's fresh leadership appears to be what this franchise needs, especially since it is trying to move forward from the wreckage that leveled everything from on-field performance to coach loyalty to player professionalism to fan affinity last season.

Yet Smith, 48, and Dimitroff, 41, are new to this, each having earned his keep in the background of other people with successful teams. Their willingness to cover each other's faults and share each other's strengths is why they feel this can actually work.

"This will be a growing process for myself and Coach Smith," Dimitroff said. "We both have definitive plans. We'll mesh well together. I'm very excited about our ability to be on the same page."

The starting point, Dimitroff said, is, "to sit down and talk about a system with Mike, as far as getting coaches in place, discussing exactly what type of players we want and what traits we want at every position so we can disseminate that to our scouting department and go forward."

Smith referred to himself as a cross between a disciplinarian and a players' coach.

On defense Smith plans to run a 4-3 scheme, as he did in Jacksonville. For clarity, Smith said he, along with head coach Jack Del Rio, installed the defensive game plan together, but on game days, Smith was the play caller. He added that he would keep the same structure in place in Atlanta.

He will help newly hired defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder install the system, but VanGorder will call the sets during games.

"Defensively, it starts with the guys up front, a strong defensive line," said Smith, who added he plans to utilize an attacking style.

Offensively, "we're not going to try to force guys into our scheme," Smith said. "We're going to try to create our scheme based on what guys are capable of doing."

The Falcons' quarterback situation is a major issue, Smith said, but one he is not ready to address. Smith said he has familiarity with Byron Leftwich, from Jacksonville, and Chris Redman, whom the Ravens drafted when he coached the defensive line in Baltimore.

He said he has schemed to defend Joey Harrington in Detroit, Miami and Atlanta. Smith has no familiarity with D.J. Shockley.

;)

It doesnt take much to scheme against Joey Harrington.

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