It took him three offseasons but Dan Quinn finally got rid of the last of the terrible Mike Smith regime. 2014 was a weird period in the team’s history. The Falcons had followed up an NFC Championship game appearance with a 2013 season full of injuries and incompetence.
Smith was the winningest coach in team history, but it was starting to look like he was in over his head. He began preaching toughness and tried to improve his awful defense. The offseason was all about improving the lines. Day one of free agency, the Falcons moved quickly to sign Tyson Jackson and Paul Soliai to a max of $57 million in contracts.
The Falcons still had prime Jonathan Babineaux and impressive Corey Peters, so the moves were a little odd. The team’s pass was reliant on an aging Osi Umenyiora and, as always, Kroy Biermann. The way Mike Smith explained it, the Falcons would run more 3-4 formations, so they needed more prototypical linemen.
Then comes the NFL draft and the team grabs another defensive tackle. Ra’Shede Hageman had the potential to be one of the best tackles in the league, but it was risky relying on Smith to get the most out of a player. It had certainly never happened before, especially a player considered as soft in numerous scouting reports.
We were all along for the ride, and it was another terrible ride. Smith had no plan for the season, and did not seem to have a plan for the future. He talked about toughness, but failed to reach any of his players with the mantra. He had no idea what he was doing, and refused to make any changes with the league’s worst defense.
The trio of below average defensive tackles summed up the end of Smith’s time in Atlanta. The team had no idea what they were doing, what was wrong, or how to fix it. Dan Quinn has been a breath of fresh air, and has finally jettisoned all three players. He has expertly rebuilt this defense by attacking the weak spots. Those weak spots were players prioritized by the old regime.
Adios to all three and their forgettable time with the Falcons. Quinn has purged the last of Smith from the franchise, except, of course, the $5+ million in dead cap space attributed to all three players.