SEATTLE - DECEMBER 19: (FILE) Head coach Mike Smith of the Atlanta Falcons looks on during the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on December 19 2010 in Seattle Washington. According to reports on February 3 2011 Smith has signed a contract extension for three-years with the Atlanta Falcons. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
In a great interview with ESPN's Pat Yasinskas--seriously, check it out--Mike Smith talked about a range of topics, from the already infamous implosion in the NFC Divisional game against the Packers to the way the coaching staff suffered from "paralysis from analysis."
The real takeaway for many of you is going to be what Smith has to say about 20+ yard plays. Nobody's committing to reinventing the wheels, but I think you'll be pleased with a couple of choice quotes from the article.
Hit the jump like a prizefighting kangaroo.
So let's start off with the quote that's the most likely to make some of you swoon:
"You analyze your team in all phases,’’ Smith said. "Creating explosive plays on the offensive side and minimizing them on the defensive side are very important. I think the explosive-play ratio is just as important as the turnover ratio. We did a better job this year in terms of minimizing explosive plays as a defense. But offensively, we did not create the 20-yard plays. Those 20-yard plays are very important in the flow of a football game. Usually, if you have a drive with a 20-yard play in it, you’re going to score a touchdown or a field goal.’’
Now, I'm not going to go through years of NFL scoring drives to see if his last point is correct, but at the very least his mind is in the right place. The Falcons can certainly improve on defense and will seek to do so, but ultimately the offense came up a little short in one too many games. Nobody wants to see that happen again in 2011, least of all the man who is supposed to bring this team to a Super Bowl.
Read between the lines and you'll see that Smith and the rest of the Falcons are on the road to a more explosive offense. That's going to require some personnel upgrades, which is not lost on Smitty. He wants players with more "urgency," which I can only assume means "a tendency to run down the field faster." That signals that whether by draft or the currently illusionary method of free agency, the Falcons are going to be looking for something different.
I think we can all support that.
Later in the article, Smith affirms that it's not all about the players, either:
"I also think you have to look at things schematically that will give you an opportunity to create those explosive plays. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to turn around and go away from the core of what we do philosophically.’’
I give this team a lot of credit for being intelligent, so it's not surprising that they're not simply sticking their heads in the sand when it comes to their offensive woes. There's a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball, but more help is needed and Mike Mularkey needs to stop being so conservative that Joseph McCarthy blushes.
It's the kind of balanced approach that we've come to expect from this team, and it's one that should serve them well in 2011 and beyond. The Falcons were one of the league's better teams in 2010, after all. Add a playmaker or two, shift the philosophy slightly and count on improvement from your mostly young offense.
Let's hope it's a recipe for success. Weigh in on the interview.