Mike Smith is currently the most successful coach in Falcons history. Unfortunately, most fans believe its time for a new head coach for the Atlanta Falcons.
Mike Smith isn’t a bad coach, in my opinion he is just coaching in the wrong era. Smith is too conservative of a coach for today’s NFL, and too conservative for the current players on his roster.
Pretty mucj, if he were in Vegas he would have to pay for his drinks because he wouldn’t gamble 5 dollars away. He is the same guy, win lose or draw.
For most of Mike Smith’s winning season the Atlanta Falcons relied heavily on a strong running game from Michael Turner, solid play action passing, and an opportunistic defense.
Michael Turner was the player that fit Coach Smith philosophy the most. Turner made Mike Smith look like a genius. In 2008, Turner rushed for 1699 yards leading the Falcons to an 11-5 season. The next season he missed 5 games and still ran for 871 yards. It was Jason Snelling that filled his shoes to help Atlanta’s offense continue to win games on its way to a second consecutive winning season and a 9-7 record as he rushed for 613 games as the two combined for 1,484 total rushing yards.
It was the running game that carried the Falcons to winning seasons during those first 4 successful seasons under Mike Smith. That was his style; run the ball, control the clock, create turnovers.
Then Michael Turner began to wear down and Thomas Dimitroff decided it was time to change gears. He envisioned a high flying offense similar to the one the Packers had when they torched the top seeded Falcons in the Georgia Dome for 48 points in the 2012 playoffs.
Thomas Dimitroff believed the Falcons were one player away. The player he felt he needed was Julio Jones. Drafting Jones was a great move and gave the Falcons some big time weapons in the passing game. I think that gravitating towards a pass happy offense was the correct decision considering all the changes that have taken place in the passing game over the past few years. In today’s NFL the receivers have a big advantage over DB’s because of the new rules.
I think the decision to feature a pass happy offense was in fact the correct decision considering they already had Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White.
The problem is it just doesn’t fit the head coach’s style. Coach Smith is simply too conservative. He is not a risk taker. Just think back to the game against Detroit in London. The Falcons had the ball with two timeouts and just over a minute remainder. Good ol coach Smith decided to just sit on a 21-0 lead. Well, the Falcons lost 22-21. By telling his team to just sit on the lead he essentially took his foot off the gas. Had he stepped on Detroit’s throat the Falcons would be in a much better position. They would be 3-5 coming off their bye and primed to make a push towards winning the division.
Instead, many pundits are calling for Mike Smiths job.
He is also hurting the defense. I would bet the house that it Smith is the reason the Falcons don’t blitz to get to the quarterback. The entire league is aware that the Falcons cannot get after the quarterback with their front four, however the Falcons refuse to bring pressure. If you ask me that is Coach Smith being conservative, that’s not Mike Nolan. Nolan has been known for his aggressive style throughout his coaching career.
Since last year we have heard Smith say we have got to get Antone Smith the ball more. All the guy does is make big plays when given the opportunity. Halfway through this season Antone is still not getting enough touches. Why coach? You are letting a dynamic player rot away on the bench. Make a way to get the man the ball in space.
Besides the Saints and Bucs game the Atlanta Falcons have been a very boring team to watch. They don’t celebrate after touchdowns, they don’t celebrate after big plays on defense, they don’t play the game with emotion. The Falcons are a reflection of their boring, down to earth, say the same thing at every press conference, and conservative head coach Mike Smith. They operate more like a Forbes top five corporate America company than a football team. I’ve seen more emotion from a statue than these guys play with on the field. Smith takes all the fun out of a kid’s game that grown men just happen to play.
Smith would have been a great coach if he had only been a head coach in the late 80’s and early 90’s when teams ran the ball, controlled the clock, and sat on the ball with just over 1 minute remaining before the half with 2 timeouts. Too bad for Smith that he simply missed his window to be a big time coach. He is not going to change and neither will his team.