While some people overreacted to a bad preseason game, the more level-headed national media is turning on the coach of the 2-5 Atlanta Falcons. Adam Schein of NFL.com writes a great column explaining why Smitty should be fired.
Schein acknowledges the great things that Smitty has done for the franchise, but believes it is clearly time for a change.
Smith, in conjunction with general manager Thomas Dimitroff and quarterback Matt Ryan, rescued the organization from the depths of embarrassment. . . .
Mike Smith is 62-41 as the Falcons' coach in the regular season. They made the playoffs four times in Smith's first five years at the helm -- after hitting the postseason just five times in the 25 years prior to Smith's arrival. That's good stuff.
Smith helped give consistency to a franchise that never managed to plug together consecutive winning seasons. His reign is the greatest in Falcons history, but it looks like we have seen the best that Smith can do for the franchise, and his best is no longer enough.
But is he the right man to take this franchise to the next level, to make the Falcons a consistent bunch that can win in the playoffs? Evidence says absolutely not. Intuition says the same thing. Mike Smith's playoff record is 1-4. His fourth-down antics in a wild-card loss to the New York Giants back in January of 2012 serve as a snapshot of Smith's goofy and questionable in-game strategy in big spots, a microcosm of larger frustration.
The list of problems with Smith seem to be growing, and after turning in multiple poor performances, old critiques begin to surface. It is easy to overlook problems when you are winning, but it will typically hurt you down the line.
We are definitely down the line.
Smith has had more than enough opportunities. We are going into year seven and have not seen the improvements expected. There are only so many times the fans can overlook the team appearing unprepared and unmotivated, in both the playoffs and big games.
The Falcons were supposed to fly last year. Even before devastating injuries absolutely leveled the team, early losses to the New Orleans Saints and New York Jets were preventable. And since the start of the 2013 season, Atlanta is 6-17. You must give Smith credit for the early winning percentage. But you also must criticize him for 10 double-digit losses in his past 17 games. Clearly, this is going in the wrong direction.
Schein is on point. This is not the most talented in the league, even when fully healthy, but this team is losing to teams they should be able to manhandle. Too often this team has made struggling teams look like juggernauts.
It has been frustrating being an Atlanta Falcon fan.
Changes are promised but never materialize. While many wonder if the staff even makes adjustments at halftime, I am beginning to wonder if they make adjustments through the entire season. Snaps seem to have no correlation with great play or terrible play, and the same plays that have not worked all season are not removed from the playbook.
The 2014 season was about toughness; it was about proving the 2013 disaster was a fluke. Unfortunately, the lackluster campaign of last year is looking more like the beginning of a trend. And it will be a bitter disappointment for Atlanta to not take advantage of its hapless competition. The Falcons are moving into a new, state-of-the-art stadium in 2017. They can't keep sinking. Owner Arthur Blank needs a winner. He deserves one.
Smith, Dimitroff and Ryan all arrived in 2008. If we are ranking how they've each performed, I think Smith is clearly No. 3. And the downward spiral of the past 14 months proves it's time to cut the weakest link.
It is hard to argue with Schein, even for those who blame the roster for a lot of the problems. Dimitroff needs to take a lot of this blame, but this team has had the same problems since day one. Smitty, coaching for his job, continues to stubbornly stick with everything that has not worked this year.
Smitty's days are numbered, and the smaller the number, the better.