Prior to the 2008 season, the Atlanta Falcons had faced many difficult challenges. First, their franchise quarterback had been sent to prison on federal dog fighting charges. Soon after this proverbial jab to the face of the franchise, they had yet another challenge. Bobby Petrino, their newly hired coach, up and quit 13 games into the season. Many people thought this was the knockout punch that would keep this franchise out of the top tier of teams for many years. But prior to the 2008 campaign, Arthur Blank and the Falcons front office made a coaching decision that would effectively save the franchise from falling into oblivion. They hired Mike Smith to become head coach. This turned out to be a great decision on their part.
Mike Smith exploded onto the scene during the 2008 campaign, his first as Head Coach of the Atlanta Falcons, when he guided what most people believed to be a team on a major downturn to an 11-5 mark and a playoff berth. He also had to deal with an unproven rookie quarterback in Matt Ryan and a free agent running back in Micheal Turner that had never been a starter before. Fortunately for the franchise and the city of Atlanta Arthur Blank and the Falcons front office made the right decision.
During his tenure as Falcons Head Coach, Mike Smith has amassed four straight winning seasons as well as three playoff berths. Something that this team had never done before in its 46 year history in the NFL. To go along with these accomplishments are achieving a number 1 seed in the 2010 playoffs and a career record of 43-21 during that time. That is an astounding winning percentage of over 67%. He has even been better when playing at home where he and the Falcons own one of the best winning percentages in the entire NFL.
However, even though he wins in the regular season, he has not had any success in the post season. In the three trips to the post season that he and the Falcons have earned, they have come away with 0 wins. This is a big deal has the NFC South is getting much stronger and a playoff berth is becoming much harder to earn. As a fan myself, I have a feeling that if he does not win a playoff game in the next two seasons, then he might be on his way out. This would be devastating for the Falcons because Smith has been the best coach the Falcons have had in the history of the franchise. But if he can not turn regular season success into post season success then he might not be in Atlanta for very long.
The Falcons did make some moves this offseason that might help his cause. They went out and hired a new offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator in Dirk Koetter and Mike Nolan. Hopefully they will be able to assist in the pursuit of a Super Bowl appearance. Even if they only get one playoff victory this upcoming season, it will still be enough in my mind to save Mike Smith from being placed and the dreaded Hot Seat that so many coaches are put on every single year.