In the realm of sports, the most targeted scapegoats are unfortunately the head coaches or quarterbacks. For the Atlanta Falcons, it won’t be Matt Ryan that will take the fall; instead, coach Mike Smith should be the one to go after a 2013 season that will forever be remembered for its nightmares instead of a fulfilling year.
This is unfortunate as Smith has given this franchise some of the best years in its history. Smith has brought in a winning culture since the day he walked into the Georgia Dome back in 2008. His ability to take over a team that hit a low point as deep as Hades’ underworld and than bringing them back to Zeus’ Mount Olympus has been an impressive feat, especially for a rookie coach.
In the past five years, Smith has made the Falcons a household name in being considered one of the better teams in the NFL — perhaps even one of the elite.
He has taken this team to new heights and accomplished things that no other Falcons team has done, including their first back-to-back winnings seasons along with a NFC best 13-3 record twice. Last year, Smith was on the verge of taking his Dirty Birds to the Super Bowl for only the second time in franchise history before falling short.
What Smith has done for not only this franchise, but for the city of Atlanta has truly been remarkable and a revelation at the same time. His contributions will always be remembered by true Falcons fans and are a huge part in how the team became an excellent football team.
Unfortunately, Smith’s ceiling ends there as we have seen his limitations in the last couple of years. As great as he has been, his past success must not blind owner Arthur Blank of the truth, which is that Smith is not the guy to lead the Falcons to their first-ever Super Bowl ring.
Time and time again, Smith has failed under pressure in the biggest moments, such as that agonizing loss in the 2012 NFC Championship game where his team had a comfortable lead before their epic meltdown. Even during this season, Smith has been out-coached and outmaneuvered on several different occasions, along with his questionable calls that cost them at least two games this year.
Smith, supposedly a defensive guru, never formed his team into a top defensive unit as they are on pace to finish at the bottom of the league in both passing and rushing defense yet again. Even when the Falcons were healthy and at their climax, he failed to make certain adjustments to help his team maintain their high-level performance.
Smith may be a solid coach, but his performance so far this year has been unimpressive and utterly disappointing to say the least. If the Falcons want to continue to move forward and truly reach their fullest potential, a coaching change will need to take place at the end of this year with Smith walking out the door.
The Falcons can be good with Smith, but they will never be great until they let him go and find a new coach to help them step up their game just like Smith did when he first arrived.