If you're wondering how Arthur Blank is feeling about this season, Jeff Schultz at the AJC had some insight yesterday. The short answer? Frustrated, but not yet ready to clean house. There are clues that changes could come at the end of the season if the team's fortunes don't change, however.
There's quite a bit to unpack here, but we'll start with this relevant passage, where Blank declines to give a specific vote of confidence, but talks as though he expects Thomas Dimitroff, Mike Smith and others to be here through the end of the 2014 season:
Question: Is it fair to say that jobs are on the line?
Answer: "I would say to you, and I mean it sincerely: I have confidence in the coaching staff and the GM and the players. I’m not speculating during the season about what might happen after the season. That’s not compatible with doing what I should be expected to do."
In essence, Blank is signaling that decisions will wait until after the season to fire anyone. It's worth noting that Smitty and Dimitroff have contracts through the 2015 season, but Blank certainly won't let that stop him from making major changes if he feels the team is locked in a spiral. The owner didn't indicate to Schultz that he has a magic number of wins or that a playoff berth saves jobs, but did allude to his own "aspirations" for the season, and certainly he's not going to wreck what he says he has no reason to believe is something short of a potential playoff team on a rash firing. Obviously the calculus could change if the losses pile up, but that's where we are now.
It's likely a prudent course for the owner to take. Mid-season firings rarely wind up providing the necessary spark to get a team back on track, and the only way it would make sense for these Falcons is if the team was giving Dirk Koetter a long look as their potential future head coach. Making a decision when the team is at 2-3 might be satisfying for the sizable portion of the fanbase that wants to see these guys gone, but it's not likely to improve the football we'll be seeing in 2014. Blank recognizes that if the team turns this one around significantly he'll get to stand behind a brain trust he clearly wants to be able to support, and if it doesn't he'll be able to move on and get an offseason of buzz out of it starting in January.
Any moves in the next few weeks would be a legitimate surprise, then. However, Blank also said this to Schultz:
"Do I want to scream? Yes," he said. "But not on the outside. I scream on the inside."
For all the reluctance now, I wouldn't necessarily expect this to end well if the Falcons' season doesn't, in other words. What's your expectation?