clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

3 Important Takeaways From Black Monday

New, comments

Now that the immediate emotions are wearing off, here are some other points of interest from the press conference.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We all knew that a change was coming. No surprise there. But Monday's press conference was more than just Arthur Blank announcing the change. His intention was also to give us explanations and answers to many of our questions.

Here are three items that I found particularly significant:

1. Arthur Blank says it really wasn't about 2014.

One of Blank's very first statements was that the change wasn't just about the last two seasons. "This is about championships, rings and not only hosting a Super Bowl, which we hope to do in our new stadium, but winning a Super Bowl."

Fans and writers alike have noted for years that the Falcons have lacked the boot-to-the-throat mentality of a true championship team. Training camp this year emphasized trying to gain a bit of toughness, but it still isn't there.

Mike Smith won more games, had more winning seasons and more trips to the postseason than any other coach in franchise history. But his even-keel style could only take the team so far. Blank wants hardware. Apparently he decided that Mike Smith isn't the coach that is going to bring championships to Atlanta.

So the change really isn't about the embarassing finale against the Panthers, the debacle in London, or the time out against the Browns. This season forced his hand, but those past January losses to the Packers, Giants and 49ers are the real story.

2. Thomas Dimitroff says "mea culpa."

For the record, Dimitroff has been a good GM. But he has made mistakes over the years that have hurt the team. And he's the architect of the current roster, which has won less than a third of its games over the last two seasons. When that happens, the GM is going to take some heat. That's the nature of the NFL.

Dimitroff is still here, but he's not safe yet. Blank explained that the evaluation process has only just begun, and that the changes may not end with the departure of Mike Smith. Whether Dimitroff should stay or should go is obviously a hot topic among Falcons fans.

My own feeling is that if he can recognize, identify and correct his own mistakes and bad tendencies, I'd be happy to have him stay. His statements in the press conference were a very good first step:

"We think we have some good football players on this team. We also know that I have made mistakes, and I know that I am going to be scrutinized for it. I know that I have over the last months looked at every different aspect of our football operations as far as what needs to be adjusted as far as myself and my approach to things as well. I am responsible as much as Smitty is for this organization and the success of this organization and the downfall of this organization."

That's everything that I could possibly ask for from him at this point. I was very happy to hear this.

Along those lines, it was strange to learn that Dimitroff had wanted to do more to improve our pass rush while our coaching staff wanted pretty much the defense that they got for this season.

We had heard from day one that Smitty and Dimitroff had a common vision for the roster, that they worked together hand in hand to identify the specific needs and player profiles desired to fill those needs, and that they met daily to discuss personnel. So it was an eyebrow-raiser to hear that they weren't on the same page and that the disconnect had been that big. When we first started hearing how Bobby Petrino wasn't always on the same page with our front office, it really wasn't a surprise. But hearing confirmation that our current regime wasn't entirely in sync - that's big news.

For me, that helps explain why Dimitroff kept such a low profile with the media this season. Sometimes it seemed like he was throwing Smitty under the bus with his absence. But I was fortunate enough to have the privilege of a couple of conversations with him myself in 2009 back when I was blogging on the old CBS forums, and I can say first hand that he was a straight shooter. He would do his best to answer any question as honestly as he could.

Knowing that he disagreed with the makeup that Smitty and Nolan wanted for the defense, I now believe he kept a low profile this year specifically to AVOID throwing Smitty under the bus. If we asked the hard questions, he would have tried to answer. No matter how tactful he tried to be with his responses, we would have connected the dots, and it would have become an embarrassing side show for a head coach that didn't need any distractions.

Will Dimitroff correct his errors and get the franchise back to the top? Obviously we don't know - especially since it's not certain yet that he'll even be with us for 2015. But knowing that he realizes he made mistakes is a very good start.

3. Yes, those things we've heard about hiring consultants are all true.

The bottom line here is that Arthur Blank is bringing in outside voices to evaluate the entire organization from top to bottom (including his own level of involvement), make recommendations, and to assist with the search for our next head coach.

This is a Good Thing. The ol' boy network was standard operating procedure in the 1970s and 1980s, and the results were abysmal. With both Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff surrounding themselves with the people they know best, we have seen enough cronyism in the current regime that we should be at least a little uncomfortable.

So it's important to have the outside voices involved just to make sure that the team truly does a thorough job in the upcoming coaching search - especially since one of the potential candidates often mentioned in the media (Josh McDaniels) is someone VERY familiar to our GM, our Assistant GM, and our Director of Player Personnel.