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Former Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith: don't obsess about "getting there"

Fact: Mike Smith owns the world's largest collection of vintage Weenie Whistles

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Former Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith has a lot of time these days. He's got time to spend with his family. He's got time to hone his infamous knitting skills. And he's got time offer his perspective on what does and doesn't work in the NFL.

In case you hadn't heard, Smith's book came out this year. A real page turner, to be sure. He basically details what it takes to run a successful professional organization. That's something the Falcons are continuing to struggle with. From Smith's perspective, it's the singular focus on reaching the Super Bowl that can in itself be prohibitive.

"[G]etting there became the only thing we cared about. As an organization, we were obsessed . . . I allowed the pressure to steer us away from the very things that made us successful. I didn't fight enough for our culture." Smith said that failing truly hit home when having the chance to ponder what went wrong during his 10 weeks of writing. "We had gotten so close to the goal of every team in the NFL," Smith told in his first extensive interview since last January's firing. "If you only focus on the fruit, you're going to forget about the root. Then the root will wither and die."

While I hate to admit it, Smith may have a point. The Falcons are at a fork in the road. They've got some of the pieces they need to make a successful playoff run, and they've got a good head coach to lead the way, but they're by no means equipped to win a Super Bowl.

At this point, after what may be three consecutive losing seasons, they have to go back to the drawing board. I'm not suggesting a wholesale rebuild like like the one the Atlanta Braves have undertaken - that doesn't really work in the NFL. So where do they start? Well, firing Thomas Dimitroff will be a start. From there, additional time and experience in Quinn's system will help.

So what do you think? How do the Falcons build a team that's "root" doesn't wither and die?