The Atlanta Falcons announced the firing of Mike Smith. The announcement comes on the heels of the Falcons' hideous 34-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers, a loss that ended the team's 2014 season and Smith's seven season run in Atlanta.
Here's Arthur Blank's statement on the firing, directly from the Falcons:
"Smitty’s contributions to our club, team and city over the last seven years are numerous," Blank said. "His accomplishments on the field made him the most successful coach in the 49-year history of the Falcons, and we are grateful for the foundation he has laid for us for the future."
The Falcons announced they will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. today to discuss Smith's firing, so stay tuned for that.
Smitty, as he was known when the fanbase was still feeling affection toward him, finishes nearly seven full seasons in Atlanta with a 66-46 record in the regular season, and a 1-4 record in the playoffs. He has the best record and most wins in team history, he brought the team to the NFC Conference Championship Game in 2012 and presided over a renaissance that at least temporarily erased the awful feelings brought by 2007, but two brutal years marred by disappointment and poor decisions ultimately cost him his job.
Smith's Falcons have gone 10-22 from 2013-2014, and while they've faced serious injury and talent questions with some position groups, the coaching staff certainly has to answer for the team's failings and their curious personnel and scheme decisions. As the man in charge, Smith falls on that sword, though most of the staff is likely to exit with him when the team hires a new head coach after the season. Given some of his miserable clock decisions and the team's shakiness over the last two year, it's a move I do support, and the 34-3 blowout at home in a win-or-go-home playoff showdown against the Panthers is certainly the giant nail in the coffin.
I'll always appreciate what Smith did for the franchise during his time in Atlanta. There's a bit of revisionism that says he was never a good coach, but the Falcons always played focused, largely mistake-free football under him, at least until 2013. The 2012 season was close to be a Super Bowl one, and while we tend to dismiss that because getting close only means so much, a lousy coach doesn't take a defensively-limited team that far. We'll hope the next coach can bring Atlanta to loftier heights, but I tip my cap appreciatively to a coach who worked hard, put out legendarily bland press conference quotes and once punched DeAngelo Hall. Smith's a good man, and I wish the team had been able to win a Super Bowl with him at the helm. Instead, we must wish him well and turn our eyes toward an uncertain (but hopefully brighter) future.
Everyone wants to know who the next coach will be, but I don't anticipate a quick, easy decision for the team. Stay tuned to our coverage all offseason and we'll give you our preferred candidates, updates on the search and the final choice as we get those reports.
Your reaction to the move?