Is Mike Smith the right head coach for the Atlanta Falcons? Well, it depends on who you ask.
Some fans look to Smith's record from 2008 through 2012 as an indication that Smith is, indeed, the right coach for Atlanta. Some fans can't get past this season's poor performance. Some fans were never too impressed with Smitty, what with the Falcons' tendency for sluggish third quarters and such.
Mike Smith does have considerable strengths as a head coach, and his record over the course of his first five seasons in Atlanta emphasizes some of them. Hey guys, remember 2007? That was fun, and by "fun" I mean that it was a nightmare from start to finish. Mike Smith was hired prior to the 2008 season, and all of a sudden, Atlanta wasn't just improved in 2008--they were a playoff-caliber team.
The Falcons offense has consistently been a strength under Smith, which is interesting given his history as a defensive coach. The defense, on the other hand, has consistently been a weakness. There are several reasons for this--this team was built to be an offensive powerhouse--but that doesn't change the fact that the defensive inadequacies caught up to the Falcons this season.
Smith's aversion to penalties has been a strength, as the team is typically one of the least-penalized, if not the least-penalized, teams in the league on a year to year basis. Smith also has solidified the loyalty and respect of the locker room. Even in a difficult season, the support of his players didn't seem to waver.
Smith does have several weaknesses that consistently reveal themselves during games. He is hesitant to let younger, less experienced players have a shot to play, even if a veteran starter is playing horribly. There generally aren't many adjustments during a game, and when there are, they are often inadequate. The Falcons' tendency toward third quarter slumps and second half implosions is pretty unacceptable. All of these weaknesses should be addressed.
One of Smith's key strengths has been winning in the regular season--his overall regular season win percentage of .625 is very impressive--but one of his key weaknesses has been an inability to coax winning performances out of his team in the postseason. That's probably the most glaring issue with Smith as a head coach in general.
Overall, Smitty has done a great deal for this team. Under his leadership, they've gone from a franchise that had never experienced back-to-back winning seasons to a team that just broke a streak of five consecutive winning seasons. Mike Smith's Falcons made the playoffs four out of the past six seasons. His weaknesses need to be addressed, however, if the Falcons are to turn things around in 2014.
Where do you stand on Mike Smith's strengths and weaknesses?