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Arthur Blank on Mike Smith and the Future of the Falcons

Falcons owner Arthur Blank, alongside Rich McKay and Thomas Dimitroff, addressed the media today following the termination of Mike Smith's contract.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Arthur Blank, alongside team president Rich McKay and general manager Thomas Dimitroff, addressed the media on Monday morning following the termination of head coach Mike Smith's contract. Blank praised Smith for all he did for the Falcons franchise, and said that it's not a matter of opinion, it's a matter of fact that Mike Smith was the most successful head coach in team history.

Blank emphasized the necessity of focusing on the short term for turning this team around, but also placing an emphasis on long-term success. The search process for a new head coach will begin immediately. Dimitroff will participate in the search for a new head coach, but Blank alluded to the fact that future changes may be coming. Blank mentioned that Joe Banner will also have a role in the search. Blank was also quick to state that the team has not contacted any agents or potential candidates, which would be a violation of NFL rules regulating this process.

Blank mentioned several qualities they will be looking for in a new head coach. Blank was also asked if Matt Ryan would have a say in the head coach hiring decision, and Ryan will not be involved. This is not surprising or unusual.

Thomas Dimitroff said several times that he bears a lot of responsibility for the struggles of the past two seasons.

Blank also talked about roster evaluation.

Blank said that a decision about Smitty's status was not made prior to yesterday's loss.

In terms of the current assistants, the new head coach will be involved in those employment decisions.

Blank was asked if Matt Ryan would have a say in the head coach hiring decision, and Ryan will not be involved. This is not surprising or unusual.

Blank also mentioned some of the more obvious reasons for the team's struggles in 2013 and 2014, though he said that the root cause of those issues, whether personnel or scheme, was open to debate.

Blank had a lot to say about the ideal head coach candidate.

And Blank emphasized that they will scrutinize all levels of football operations to see where and how they can improve. Blank reiterated his affection for Mike Smith, but also his confidence that this was the right decision for the future of the organization. McKay also discussed the foundation Smitty gave the team to build upon for the future.

Blank, while acknowledging his up and down season, expressed confidence in Matt Ryan, and also said that this is a critical time in terms of Matt Ryan's career. McKay also had praise for Ryan.

Blank had quite a bit to say about the coaching search, including consultant Joe Banner's involvement in it.

Blank did quote Godfather II.

It's also worth mentioning that Blank also referenced last week's dominant victory over New Orleans and had some not-so-kind words about Bobby Petrino. Never change, Mr. Blank.

What are your thoughts on Smitty's departure, the retention of Dimitroff and the direction of the team?