birds_till_death Posted October 29, 2010 Share Posted October 29, 2010 By D. Orlando Ledbetter The Atlanta Journal-Constitution FLOWERY BRANCH -- Falcons coach Mike Smith's measured approach has his team off to a 5-2 start for only the sixth time in the history of the franchise, which is in its 45th season.If they continue to prepare and stay on his path of consistent preparation and production, the Falcons could post their third consecutive winning season and make a return visit to the playoffs.Of the previous five teams that started 5-2, three of them went to the playoffs. The 1998 team went on to win nine straight to finish 14-2 on their march to the Super Bowl.Smith believes the key to his team's start has been the structure of the offseason, practices and the team meetings."When things don't go the way you anticipate, you can't change," Smith said. "You've got to have conviction in the foundation that you've set."Smith doesn't run a top-down ship. The players have a role to play in the planning and preparation each week."I don't believe in kings, queens and dictators," Smith said. "That's just not the way you want to run an organization or you want to run a football team. You need to have input from everybody because they may have a completely different perspective on it."That's happened at least twice over the first seven games.Defensive end John Abraham wanted to battle solely with Cleveland's Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas. The coaches wanted him to rotate sides because they thought he could run roughshod over right tackle Tony Pashos. They eventually sided with Abraham, and he turned in a monster two-sack game.Last week against Cincinnati, the offense started taking shots down the field and throwing the ball out of running formations after suggestions from several players.Naturally, some of the player recommendations are taken into consideration, but not applied."It doesn't mean that we are going to use what they suggest, but it definitely makes you be a critical thinker as a coach or as a manager that you're taking the input from your players," Smith said.Smith plans for the peaks and valleys that his team will inevitably go through during the season. That might explain why they have lost consecutive games only twice since 2008.A week after a gut-wrenching 15-9 overtime lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, they pummeled the Arizona Cardinals 41-7. After taking a 34-10 shellacking from Philadelphia, the following week they jumped on the Bengals 24-3 before pulling out a 39-32 victory."We preach all the time to our guys that we want to be very on point all through the week and to know that we don't want to go up and down with the outcome of the previous game or how big the next game is. We want to be very consistent."But Smith wants them to cut loose on Sundays -- and in a few weeks on a Thursday night."It's an emotional and passionate effort that you've got to have out there in the games," Smith said.It doesn't hurt that the players know Smith also is on full emotional blast for the games. He keeps his challenge flag on the ready. He goes for it on fourth down and will mix it up in a scrum if he has to, as he did in the Washington game last season."Everybody is in to it," Smith said. "You get those 16 opportunities as an organization to perform. That's the only thing you're guaranteed."http://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-falcons/mike-smith-has-falcons-699277.htmlGreat write-up. I like the part that the players suggested we throw more from run formations and abe wanting one on one with joe thomas. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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