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A Tdwii Question: If Dimitroff Was Looking For A Hc Today, Would He Hire Mike Smith?


TheDirtyWordII
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Not the Mike Smith of 6 years ago, but today’s Mike Smith?

Consider: The Falcons are clearly built around the passing game. Their QB is locked up contractually until the conclusion of the 2018 season. Their next big contract renewal will be to make Julio Jones one of the games highest paid WR’s. That said, a valid argument can be made that the Falcons may have the worst talent base within the NFC South. If you are building Falcons 2.0 under Dimitroff and the one bedrock platform that you can springboard off is from the QB/WR position, is Mike Smith the guy you hire?

At what point do you determine whether your HC is the right guy for the job? How many times do you need to ask that question?

Despite winning just 4 games in 2013, Mike Smith still has won an average of 10 games/year as HC of the Atlanta Falcons. It’s awfully impressive. But even before the debacle of 2013, it seemed that of the three pillars that comprise the front office, the coaching and the franchise QB for the Falcons, the whispers about Smith’s ability to set the right tone for this team were the loudest. When you’re winning, you’ll be described as steady or smart. When you’re losing you’ll be described as ultra-conservative, boring. It’s simply the name of the game when you are an NFL HC.

In one respect, the loss against the 49ers in the NFCC Game was the most emotionally devastating because the Falcons were SO close. But the one that I think resonated the deepest as it pertained to the persona, make-up and character of the franchise was the 2010 playoff loss against the Packers. It was the one that in terms of how this team was constructed and coached changed this team the most.

We all remember that night. As a fan, I remember tailgating in the parking lot and being nervous. GB was not an opponent I wanted to play. Hours later, I’d find out why. Aaron Rodgers played the QB position better than I’d ever seen anyone player the QB position, before or since. The Falcons were ambushed and in the aftermath, it seemed like that game was a seminal moment in the direction of this franchise. One that seemingly changed their outlook to one in which they believed that in order to win a championship, they’d have to outscore teams. Be prolific in terms of putting points on the board. Since then, the Falcons have posted the 4th most pass attempts/sacks in the NFL (behind only DET, NE & NO).

Whether this was the right move or the wrong move is not the question. This is how the Falcons decided to business after the 2010 season and with an emerging franchise QB and elite pass catching corps, it did seem a logical move to make. But did that strategic shift mesh with the temperament and tendencies of their head coach who would be in charge of implementing, administering and enforcing that mindset? In 2011-2012 when the Falcons were winning games consistently, one trend that emerged was the Falcons inability to put teams away. The Falcons would open up a lead and then hold on to win the game after withstanding a rally. Consider these examples from as early as 2011.

@SEA – Week 4; W (30-28)…outscored 21-6 in the second half.

@DET – Week 7; W (23-16)…Lions close halftime lead from 17-6 to 20-16.

TEN –Week 11; W (23-17)…Falcons open up a 23-3 3rd quarter lead. Hold on for 23-17 victory.

MIN – Week 12; W (24-14)…17-0 halftime lead reduced to 17-14.

Continued instances like this bled into the 2012 season where early leads were whittled down. And while the Falcons invariably came away with victories…seeds of vulnerability stalked them. Even their greatest victory under this regime was tainted in the respect that a 20 point lead was relinquished. And then the loss against SF which followed the same frustrating and maddening pattern. Where suspicions generated over 2 seasons of tight 2nd half play were confirmed.

2013 really gave the Falcons no shot at playing with many leads. In a lot of ways the veneer of superiority that accompanied this franchises regime, which transformed a perennial loser into a consistent winner, seemed dashed even before injuries struck this team. The Falcons were only 2-3 at the time Julio went down…it was apparent before that night against the Jets that this team was suffering from a crisis of confidence. Sure, we were suffering from some injuries even then, but Kroy Biermann and Sean Weatherspoon are not indispensable assets.

If you remember when Mike Smith was hired, it was not exactly lauded. It wasn’t skewered either, but it was largely seen as uninspiring. Smith didn’t really possess any of the hot (and overrated) traits of coordinators that led superlative unit play the year before. Smith wasn’t even seen as the top defensive mind on his staff since he coached under Jack Del Rio. What he did possess was a staunch respect related to attention to detail, a strong focus on fundamental football and a very quick symbiotic relationship with his boss. Thomas Dimitroff has stressed that the ability for the coach & GM to be on the same page is an absolute must in the dynamic. But at the time, Dimitroff stood over the ruins of a house that had essentially burned to the ground. The personnel was seen as among the leagues’ worst. There was no viable QB or RB on the roster. Both men braced for a long arduous road back to respectability that they coined as ‘the process’. And together, with those principles and that mindset in tow…they exceeded even their own expectations and built an instant contender.

The Falcons today though stand as far away from being a Super Bowl contender as they have since 2008. Players that represented the bedrock of their foundation have either moved on or are aging to a point where there future contributions might better be measured in games versus years. There is no doubt the Falcons did the right thing by keeping Dimitroff/Smith in place. 56-24 earns you a mulligan and not just that, you keep your GM/HC jobs from becoming radioactive.

But we also know that GM’s seemingly have longer shelf lives than HC’s and that if a shake-up were to occur, chances are Dimtroff gets a second chance to pick a HC versus Smith working under a new GM. We’ve seen this team run the cycle under Smith from doormat to a floor or two below the penthouse back to doormat. Could Blank/Dimitroff justify keeping Smith at the end of 7 years if at the end of that time period, the Falcons had but one playoff win?

Smith's seat wasn't hot in 2013. He was always safe. But safety is relative and the Falcons need to start off strong if he wishes for the temperature to stay steady. Regardless though, the Falcons also can't go one and done in the playoffs if they were to make it. And if they don't, consider that one of the hottest names on the coaching carousel is Josh McDaniels, a coach Dimitroff has personal experience with. A coach who has worked with Tom Brady and has rehabilitated his coaching stock...one who may be able to help Ryan raise his game to the truly elite level. Too many things have to happen before we consider coaching/GM changes. The Falcons could right well run the table next year because a break here and a break there that they didn't catch in 2013, could be caught in 2014. But make no mistake, the clock is finally starting to tick on Smith's tenure in Atlanta and the next 12 months will go along way toward determining his fate.

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1 playoff win in six years is not impressive . everybody keeps hanging on all those regular season wins and yet Glanville , Bennett , Reeves , Jim Mora Jr all were better postseason coaches . And yet everybody proclaims Smittyball as our greatest head coach ever . and don't forget it took Dan Reeves less than seven years to get the Falcons to the Superbowl . So those who are proclaiming Smittyball as the Falcons greatest head coach ever is dead wrong .

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Get a good o-line

Don't pay Julio top WR money...if he wants that then he can be someone else's expensive receiver

Get a good d-line

Get a stable of backs from the bargain bin that can't start in other teams but compliment each other

If Julio doesn't budge off top WR money, get a stable of capable receivers instead of 3 great guys and UDFAs

Smith will look like a genius again...Ryan's stats might go down to the dismay of Ryan fans on here, but we'll win games and be more equipped to win in the playoffs/on the road.

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It's Dimitroff, so who knows? I really don't understand why he hired Smitty in the first place. His vision of a successful football team is obviously something like the Packers or Saints, and he hired a guy who wants to run the ball between the tackles, limit risk, and grind out wins.

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Very good post. I have been calling for Mike Smith to shape up or ship out for several years now and my view hasn't changed. In fact, despite Smith's apparently glittering regular season record, I felt he ~ and TD ~ should've both been shown the door after this season. Smith's coaching philosophy, his organizational skills, attention to detail are second to none. The problem is he can't take an above-average team and turn it into a team that can win big games, nationally televised games or play-off games. His philosophy, when perfectly executed, is good enough to beat the rank-and-file bottom-feeder teams in the NFL, but even the bottom-feeder teams are now giving Smith's teams all they can handle.

Smittyball has continued on offense and defense, virtually unchanged through four different coordinators, so it's pretty clear there will not be any meaningful changes or improvements in the way the Falcons play the game as long as Smith is here. Without significant changes, I don't believe getting a whole bunch of new players is really going to make any difference. Smith simply has limited capabilities to perform as a HC. He's reached his ceiling and he has nowhere to go but down, as he proved this year even before the injuries started to happen.

This FO has a huge problem identifying legitimate NFL-quality talent, both in the draft and in FA. When your UDFA picks are more solid than your mid and late-round picks, you've got serious issues. When you play your very worst football against the very best teams, when you stink up the field in the biggest games of the season, when your teams totally crash and burn in the play-offs, then the "process" has failed. It's time to move on from Smith and TD. It's been time to move on. This 2014 season is going to be yet another season of wasted opportunities and disappointing losses, incomprehensible personnel decisions and monumentally incompetent in-game strategic moves. But, loyalty must be served; all doubt has to be removed before Arthur Blank will be able to cut the cord and move on. I can't wait until Smittyball and its creator are no longer part of this franchise.

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Good read...

Smith's tenure as HC will begin to get questioned if he can't improve the post-halftime collapses this team undergoes each game. The upcoming draft is imperative also...he has to bring in quality, starter material on both lines. This offseason will truly define Smith's future as well as Dimitroff's if they can't actually improve this roster and produce better results than years past.

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isnt that what we did in the 14-2 season?

It's Dimitroff, so who knows? I really don't understand why he hired Smitty in the first place. His vision of a successful football team is obviously something like the Packers or Saints, and he hired a guy who wants to run the ball between the tackles, limit risk, and grind out wins.

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If TD were hiring for the Falcons TODAY most likely not

BUT if TD were hiring for the Jaguars/Raiders/Browns TODAY most likely yes

like him or not Mike Smith has done more to make the Falcons relevant than any person in the history of this franchise.---ie 09-12 most teams felt they has a fight on their hands when they played Atl.

Reeves was my favorite Falcon's coach --but even his successes did not make the Falcons a relevant team

ie most teams always felt they could beat the Falcons on any given Sunday.

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isnt that what we did in the 14-2 season?

Yeah. The same season we got embarrassed on our own field as a #1 seed, only to watch our GM feel the answer to giving up 48 points is to build a team that can score 49. Now we have an OC who abandons the run after it gets stuffed a few times. The point being, both approaches are dumb. Smittyball will only win in the playoffs if we have a good D that we can lean on. And abandoning the run is always a bad idea, even if you have a good OL. We need to find a happy medium between the two approaches, which I just don't see happening under these two. The GM and HC need to be on the same page, and ours aren't.

Edited by RS91
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well it starts next year! lets hope for a first round olineman

Yeah. The same season we got embarrassed on our own field as a #1 seed, only to watch our GM feel the answer to giving up 48 points is to build a team that can score 49. Now we have an OC who abandons the run after it gets stuffed a few times. The point being, both approaches are dumb. Smittyball will only win in the playoffs if we have a good D that we can lean on. And abandoning the run is always a bad idea, even if you have a good OL. We need to find a happy medium between the two approaches, which I just don't see happening under these two. The GM and HC need to be on the same page, and ours aren't.

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Not the Mike Smith of 6 years ago, but today’s Mike Smith?

Consider: The Falcons are clearly built around the passing game. Their QB is locked up contractually until the conclusion of the 2018 season. Their next big contract renewal will be to make Julio Jones one of the games highest paid WR’s. That said, a valid argument can be made that the Falcons may have the worst talent base within the NFC South. If you are building Falcons 2.0 under Dimitroff and the one bedrock platform that you can springboard off is from the QB/WR position, is Mike Smith the guy you hire?

At what point do you determine whether your HC is the right guy for the job? How many times do you need to ask that question?

Despite winning just 4 games in 2013, Mike Smith still has won an average of 10 games/year as HC of the Atlanta Falcons. It’s awfully impressive. But even before the debacle of 2013, it seemed that of the three pillars that comprise the front office, the coaching and the franchise QB for the Falcons, the whispers about Smith’s ability to set the right tone for this team were the loudest. When you’re winning, you’ll be described as steady or smart. When you’re losing you’ll be described as ultra-conservative, boring. It’s simply the name of the game when you are an NFL HC.

In one respect, the loss against the 49ers in the NFCC Game was the most emotionally devastating because the Falcons were SO close. But the one that I think resonated the deepest as it pertained to the persona, make-up and character of the franchise was the 2010 playoff loss against the Packers. It was the one that in terms of how this team was constructed and coached changed this team the most.

We all remember that night. As a fan, I remember tailgating in the parking lot and being nervous. GB was not an opponent I wanted to play. Hours later, I’d find out why. Aaron Rodgers played the QB position better than I’d ever seen anyone player the QB position, before or since. The Falcons were ambushed and in the aftermath, it seemed like that game was a seminal moment in the direction of this franchise. One that seemingly changed their outlook to one in which they believed that in order to win a championship, they’d have to outscore teams. Be prolific in terms of putting points on the board. Since then, the Falcons have posted the 4th most pass attempts/sacks in the NFL (behind only DET, NE & NO).

Whether this was the right move or the wrong move is not the question. This is how the Falcons decided to business after the 2010 season and with an emerging franchise QB and elite pass catching corps, it did seem a logical move to make. But did that strategic shift mesh with the temperament and tendencies of their head coach who would be in charge of implementing, administering and enforcing that mindset? In 2011-2012 when the Falcons were winning games consistently, one trend that emerged was the Falcons inability to put teams away. The Falcons would open up a lead and then hold on to win the game after withstanding a rally. Consider these examples from as early as 2011.

@SEA – Week 4; W (30-28)…outscored 21-6 in the second half.

@DET – Week 7; W (23-16)…Lions close halftime lead from 17-6 to 20-16.

TEN –Week 11; W (23-17)…Falcons open up a 23-3 3rd quarter lead. Hold on for 23-17 victory.

MIN – Week 12; W (24-14)…17-0 halftime lead reduced to 17-14.

Continued instances like this bled into the 2012 season where early leads were whittled down. And while the Falcons invariably came away with victories…seeds of vulnerability stalked them. Even their greatest victory under this regime was tainted in the respect that a 20 point lead was relinquished. And then the loss against SF which followed the same frustrating and maddening pattern. Where suspicions generated over 2 seasons of tight 2nd half play were confirmed.

2013 really gave the Falcons no shot at playing with many leads. In a lot of ways the veneer of superiority that accompanied this franchises regime, which transformed a perennial loser into a consistent winner, seemed dashed even before injuries struck this team. The Falcons were only 2-3 at the time Julio went down…it was apparent before that night against the Jets that this team was suffering from a crisis of confidence. Sure, we were suffering from some injuries even then, but Kroy Biermann and Sean Weatherspoon are not indispensable assets.

If you remember when Mike Smith was hired, it was not exactly lauded. It wasn’t skewered either, but it was largely seen as uninspiring. Smith didn’t really possess any of the hot (and overrated) traits of coordinators that led superlative unit play the year before. Smith wasn’t even seen as the top defensive mind on his staff since he coached under Jack Del Rio. What he did possess was a staunch respect related to attention to detail, a strong focus on fundamental football and a very quick symbiotic relationship with his boss. Thomas Dimitroff has stressed that the ability for the coach & GM to be on the same page is an absolute must in the dynamic. But at the time, Dimitroff stood over the ruins of a house that had essentially burned to the ground. The personnel was seen as among the leagues’ worst. There was no viable QB or RB on the roster. Both men braced for a long arduous road back to respectability that they coined as ‘the process’. And together, with those principles and that mindset in tow…they exceeded even their own expectations and built an instant contender.

The Falcons today though stand as far away from being a Super Bowl contender as they have since 2008. Players that represented the bedrock of their foundation have either moved on or are aging to a point where there future contributions might better be measured in games versus years. There is no doubt the Falcons did the right thing by keeping Dimitroff/Smith in place. 56-24 earns you a mulligan and not just that, you keep your GM/HC jobs from becoming radioactive.

But we also know that GM’s seemingly have longer shelf lives than HC’s and that if a shake-up were to occur, chances are Dimtroff gets a second chance to pick a HC versus Smith working under a new GM. We’ve seen this team run the cycle under Smith from doormat to a floor or two below the penthouse back to doormat. Could Blank/Dimitroff justify keeping Smith at the end of 7 years if at the end of that time period, the Falcons had but one playoff win?

Smith's seat wasn't hot in 2013. He was always safe. But safety is relative and the Falcons need to start off strong if he wishes for the temperature to stay steady. Regardless though, the Falcons also can't go one and done in the playoffs if they were to make it. And if they don't, consider that one of the hottest names on the coaching carousel is Josh McDaniels, a coach Dimitroff has personal experience with. A coach who has worked with Tom Brady and has rehabilitated his coaching stock...one who may be able to help Ryan raise his game to the truly elite level. Too many things have to happen before we consider coaching/GM changes. The Falcons could right well run the table next year because a break here and a break there that they didn't catch in 2013, could be caught in 2014. But make no mistake, the clock is finally starting to tick on Smith's tenure in Atlanta and the next 12 months will go along way toward determining his fate.

Nice read. But the more relevant question is, would Blank hire TD again today? It's 50/50 in my mind. He's made some good moves, but has "whiffed" on just as many, I think.

Our lines are in the shape they're in today, because of neglect, and the apparent lack of knowledge on what makes Championship caliber teams ---- continuing to stack your best TALENT IN THE "TRENCHES"!!!

It ALL starts up front ---- if you don't believe me, just look at the 4 teams left in the Playoffs...

Edited by FalconJim
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If you say that Falcons have had the same success they've had since 2008, and their looking for a HC, I don't think TD brings in Smith. But not because of the team make up, but because where the origination would be. Smith was brought in after the likes of Mora Jr and Petrino. Blank needed someone like Smith to bring stability, loyalty and attention to detail back to the Franchise. Smith has surpassed all expectations in that re-guard. Smith has also done a very good job of bringing in the right coaches, at the right time.

2013 was brutal, my god it was brutal. But don't underestimate this teams ability to fight, which shows the true leadership of Smith. There was a 4 game stretch where the Falcons were giving up and getting dominated of field as a by product. But I thought they finished strong. They were in both games vs 49ers and Panthers. They just don't have the horses.

This team has had some second half collapses. I think bringing back a legit run game fixes this issue. That combined with a nasty dline/oline. I often think back to the 49ers games last season, still hurts! The 49ers got back in the game by dominating up front and running the ball. The Falcons not only had a weekly second half collapse, they ran high risk plays. The Roddy White INT (when he slipped), the bad snap/fumble/turnover out of the shotgun, Harry Douglas slipping. If one of those plays don't happen, the Falcons kick a FG to win the game. I'm not putting it on Ryan either. I love Matt Ryan, he just needs a run game. All QBs not named Tom Brady needs one. He hasn't had one since 2011.

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Mike Smith has maxed out his tenure in Atlanta. Like many have said, he is what he is. In my opinion, he has set this franchise back because he didn't stick to his principles. Dimitroff wanted explosion, and Mike Smith wouldn't know the first thing to do with an explosive offense. He allowed Dimitroff to draft Julio Jones when all he needed was the blocking receiver we had in Michael Jenkins. He allowed Dimitroff to draft Jaquizz Rogers, when Smith knows he prefers a ground and pound back. Now the only successor we have to Michael Turner is a long in the tooth Steven Jackson.

In other words, if Mike Smith stayed with his philosophy of ball control and tough defense, then we would have invested in the lines already. Dimitroff wants Ryan to break passing records when Ryan really needs a good running game to play action off of. Mike Smith is learning on the job. He has no idea how to coach a championship team. Why would he wait to a failed year 6 to go back to what he did in year 1? He is clueless.

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In the NFL, there are 32 teams.

There are not 32 qualified starting QB's

There are not 32 qualified HC's

That's why you're seeing HC's getting recycled and given another chance. There's really no one that much better to choose from.

If Smith had been fired, he likely would have a HC job somewhere else by now.

And whoever the Falcons would have hired would be lambasted on this board.

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