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Series Of Emails And Answers On The Nfc South, Falcons And Mike Smith From Bill Simmons' Grantland Mailbag


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Q: ESPN.com finally put its Playoff Machine back up. Do you realize Carolina can win the NFC South with a record of 5-10-1? This isn’t a joke.
—Kass, North Dakota

BS: If the Saints win the NFC South, at least we could halfheartedly talk ourselves into the whole Superdome/Brees/Payton/mega-underdog thing. If the Falcons win it, at least we could talk ourselves into the whole Ryan/Julio/Roddy/Georgia Dome/high-scoring thing, only it would be combined with the compelling possibility of Mike Smith botching one last big game in the final two minutes. But if the Panthers win it? I mean … I don’t even like when the RedZone channel throws it to Carolina for 15 seconds. They’d be the first-ever “Nobody Believes In Us OR Wants To Watch Us” playoff team. I really hope that doesn’t happen.

Q: Does anyone really want to see a 6-10 Falcons team hosting a home playoff game while Detroit or Seattle watch from the couch? Since Goodell just makes **** up as he goes along and applies it retroactively, can we get him to strip the NFC South of its automatic playoff bid this year?
—Charley, Baltimore

BS: That would be awesome if Goodell held a press conference just to announce, “Look, you guys know that I make **** up as I go along, and that I belatedly overreact to whatever way the public wind is blowing. That’s my calling card, and that’s how you’ll remember me. So for one time only, I have decided to use my powers in a positive way. Starting this season, only teams that finish .500 or higher can make the playoffs. And on that note, I am taking a leave of absence — my daughter Stephanie and her husband Triple H will be taking over the NFL, effectively immediately.”

(P.S.: I have been advocating the “.500 or Higher” playoff rule for years now. If you can’t go 8-8, you shouldn’t be a playoff team. Then again, the thought of a Seahawks-Saints Reverse 2010 Round 1 Situation is pretty damned exciting. So is the not-so-insane possibility of a 5-10-1 or 5-11 team being a no. 4 seed, or a coach being fired even though he’s in first place. I’m enjoying the NFC South Train Wreck. I can’t lie.)

Q: Has Mike Smith been going to the Roger Goodell school of situation management?? When a manager of a Football team is on the hot-seat here in the UK and does something moronic, the fans sing “You don’t know what you’re doing, You don’t know what you’re doing.” This song was invented for Mike Smith! I was probably the only Falcons fan at Wembley when Smith did everything in his power to give that Lions game away. This week, to my utter dismay and disbelief, HE F-​-​-​-​-​-​ DID IT AGAIN!!!!! He could be the first coach to be sacked while in first place in their division!
—Dom, Somewhere in England you won’t know

Q: I actually feel bad for Mike Smith. You can tell that he just gets nervous at the end of big games. He seems to completely forget what he’s supposed to with his arms, and just looks genuinely uncomfortable and unhappy. He’s been the Falcons coach since 2008 — does anyone want to continue to see this?
—Arun, Brooklyn

BS: As you can tell, we had two finalists for this week’s “Mike Smith Might Need To Go” email contest. I loved Dom’s email, but it couldn’t top Arun’s astute observation, “he seems to completely forget what he’s supposed to do with his arms.” Your winner: Arun from Brooklyn! You get a free Blu-ray of the upcoming 30 for 30 about Smith’s unforgettable Game Management Fiasco-Off against Jim Caldwell in Wembley, Eyes Wide Shut. And yes, Mike Smith prevailed in London because Mike Smith is the Mike Smith of Clock Management.

(Wait, I’m being a little too mean to Mike Smith. Somebody throw a glass of water in my face, please.)

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Not that it's undeserved, but it's kind of sad that two games in 2014 will be what Mike Smith will be remembered for.

I said the same thing in another thread. Mike Smith has done a lot of good for the Falcons, but the longer that this drags out, the poorer that he'll be remembered.

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I said the same thing in another thread. Mike Smith has done a lot of good for the Falcons, but the longer that this drags out, the poorer that he'll be remembered.

I still remember how nice it was to always beat the teams you were supposed to beat. To not give games away with stupid penalties (like now.) To have a true home field advantage. To know that losing streaks would almost always be snapped at two.

Real shame the guy flamed out so bad.

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I still remember how nice it was to always beat the teams you were supposed to beat. To not give games away with stupid penalties (like now.) To have a true home field advantage. To know that losing streaks would almost always be snapped at two.

Real shame the guy flamed out so bad.

He's not only bad. He's getting worse. You can tell that he's panicking, and the more that he gets stressed, the dumber the decision that he makes.

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Mike Smith lost his way.

He went from a run-heavy, time-eating offense to a pass-dependent offense with DC. Not what he needs, as evidenced by the CLE loss. No way we would have thrown that last pass when Turner was here.

Also, remember that scene from Hard Knocks where he's showing tape of his first season practices, trying to recapture the intensity? When you have to do that, you're lost.

Good guy, and have wanted nothing but success for him here. That said, it's just time...

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Actually when reading this the Panthers come off the worst. To the average NFL fan the Falcons and Saints have a certain car-crash quality (smith's playcalling, the Saints' ability to do the worst possible thing in a given moment) that they would be worth watching in the playoffs regardless of record. Carolina is bad and boring, which is toxic to NFL ratings

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I wonder if AB on the sideline is making him nervous

It would me. AB needs to back off, but unlikely. Mike Smith was the saviour of this distraught franchise when he arrived following Petrino and I will never forget what he accomplished. However it's time to go. Even though his players love him I think they have tuned him out. I also think there are some players that have not bought into the schemes especially on defense..

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Bill was my favorite sports writer, but ever since starting Grantland he's kind of an insufferable **** gobbler. However, this is horse ****.

I'll save you the trouble, here's every Simmons column from the past 5 years:

"I ******* love the Celtics, Patriots, Red Sox, and I would give Tom Brady a hummer" by Bill Simmons.

I run Grantland, it's the best job ever! We sit around at our AWESOME office here in LA and have debates on why Coldplay is so annoying. HAHAHAHAHAHA AWESOME RIGHT? Don't you wish you worked here?

The Celtics ******* rule. Did I mention I'm from Boston?

Belichek is wasting Brady's prime. But I'd totally blow either of them.

Even though the red sox have won a **** ton of titles lately, I'm still going to ***** about them not winning even more.

I USED TO WORK FOR JIMMY KIMMEL.

I live in LA, but I hate the Lakers. HAHAHAHAHAHA FUNNY RIGHT?

Boston."

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