My grade for coach Smith in his first year is a "D", i will list my reasons below.
1) the preseason fiasco, By not playing his starters at all in the preseason, we were not ready to compete at the start of the season. This was shown in the multiple presnap penalties we received in the first two games. If we had skipped playing starters in the preaseason and looked like a prepared team, but still lost so be it, but we looked like a team that was lost and frankly, it was embarrassing.
2) the inability (or arrogance) that led to us not adjusting well. Our Oline was weak, this is not a surprise to anyone. We did not roll Ryan out, use screens effectively, use draws, etc in order to cover this issue. On screens in particular, we looked like a middle school football team. This refusal to adjust, or inability to adjust felt very Koetteresque.
3) our overall offensive regression. I almost cannot believe these words as i type them but…this years offense was worse than last years. Or any year in the Dirk Koetter era. Abject failure on the offensive side of the ball.
4) the poor clock management against Washington that cost us that game. No real need for explanation here.
Now, to address some of the excuses or justifications i have heard that i find meritless:
1) Ridley’s absence. This is the NFL. Injuries, suspensions happen all the time. So. Missing one player is not enough of an excuse for your team to be horrible. Look at Smith"s old team, they lost their best player, probably the best RB in the NFL, and they are the AFC 1 seed. Adapting to the loss of a player or players for an extended time is an expectation for a HC.
2) this idea that 7 wins against this weak schedule shows success. It does not, it is what a HC should do. At my job, if i just do what is expected, i am not praised for that, nor should he be. Also, we lost two games this year to teams we should have beaten, Washington and Carolina. Also, not only did we not bear a good team, we barely even competed against them, if Smith had led the Falcons to a win against a playoff team, then he should be praised. We have had bad coaching for so long now, we see mediocre coaching and think its good.
Conclusion: not a good first year, i hope he learns, grows and improves. I am not ready to give up on him yet, but i fear that he is to arrogant to change,