Will Blank make move with Mike Smith?

Mike Smith made some poor decisions down stretch Sunday. (AP photo)

Mike Smith made some poor decisions down stretch Sunday. (AP photo)

Mike Smith made some poor decisions down stretch Sunday. (AP photo)

The Falcons have scheduled coach Mike Smith’s weekly news conference for 2:30 p.m. So that should answer the immediate question: Is Mike Smith getting fired today?

Owner Arthur Blank is not a man who takes either defeat or public scorn or mocking well. My guess is he’s torn on this decision, and within the Falcons’ organization some people are advising him against making a change right now, primarily for two reasons: 1) Smith had a strong resume in his first five seasons, going 56-24 (playoff failures, notwithstanding); 2) The Falcons, despite having lost five straight and sitting at 2-6 at the bye week, are only 1½ games out of first place in the horrible NFC South, with the next two games coming against division opponents (at Tampa Bay, at Carolina).

But there are some things about the Falcons’ slide that Blank can’t ignore.

Here are a few:

• The team is 2-6 this season and 6-18 since going to the NFC title game in 2012 (blowing a 17-point lead to San Francisco). No matter how many injuries the Falcons have had the last two seasons, a 6-18 record signals problems. That’s significant underachievement relative to the talent that’s on the field. That’s coaching. That shouldn’t be taken as a defense of general manager Thomas Dimitroff because there obviously have been some mistakes in personnel decisions as well, but that’s no excuse for this team losing 75 percent of its games in a long stretch.

• The, “But we’re still in it because the division stinks,” excuse is thin, at best. If Blank truly believes that Smith is still the coach that can lead him to a Super Bowl, that’s one thing. But nobody should make decisions based on the fact that other teams are losing. By that logic, Smith would be in more trouble if New Orleans was 6-1 instead of 3-4? What do the Saints have to do with the direction of the Falcons?

• The Falcons blew a 21-0 halftime lead over Detroit in London. They have been outscored 70-7 in the fourth quarter of the last six games and 85-38 in the second half during the losing streak. The most plausible reasons for those trends: coaching adjustments, or lack thereof; one team being physically better and simply taking over; one team lacking confidence and/or going soft in crucial moments. Two of those three are on coaching.

• Not everything that happened in the collapse against Detroit was Smith’s fault. Obviously, when Matt Prater’s initial missed field goal was nullified by a Lions’ delay-of-game penalty, Smith was helpless. But there were some decisions worthy of second-guessing.

1.) The decision to shut down the offense in the first half when the Falcons had the ball with two time-outs and 1:14 left. This team needs a more aggressive mindset; 2.) The lack of an attacking mindset with the offense was evident in the second half; 3) The Falcons only had to run down the clock in the fourth quarter when they were clinging to a 21-19 lead. But they had a holding penalty on a running play that stopped the clock, then threw an incomplete pass play (Julio Jones drop) that burned only four seconds. Even on third and long, they should’ve run the ball. The Lions got the ball back with 1:38. After a Detroit run to the Falcons’ 30, Smith for some reason stopped the clock with the Falcons’ last timeout with 25 seconds left, presumably with the thought that they might need to get the ball back. But why give the Lions that advantage? The Lions were out of time-outs and they were scrambling. Did I mention the Lions were out of time-outs?

In the end, Prater kicked a 48-yard field goal and the Falcons were left with one of their worst collapses in franchise history.

What happens next is up to Blank. Do you believe he should make a move? The cyber-floor is now yours.

I’ve also put up a poll question: Do you believe the Falcons can turn this season around under Mike Smith?

Digital Jukebox
— MyAJC: Georgia Tech takes advantage of Pitt’s fumble-fest
— AJC: Short takes: Georgia Tech 56 (points), Pittsburgh 6 (lost fumbles)
— AJC: LIVE: Tech’s defense must improve vs. Pitt
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: Falcons lose, Jackets pull upset, Dogs in prayer circle
— AJC: Will a fresh perspective elude Braves?
— MyAJC: Todd Gurley’s return would raise Georgia’s ceiling again
— AJC: Why did NCAA say yes to Mo’ne Davis but no to Todd Gurley?
— MyAJC: Why playoff picture looks good for SEC (and Georgia)
— MyAJC: Here’s good news: Falcons are leaving country
— MyAJC: Georgia Tech continues to stomp on hope
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: Dogs win, Falcons lose, Jameis enabled
— AJC: Georgia dealing with reality, FSU avoiding it
— MyAJC: Does NCAA care that public sentiment favors Gurley, athletes?
— MyAJC: Georgia’s response heard loud and clear
— MyAJC: NCAA needs to realize amateurism is dead
— AJC: Minus Gurley, Dogs must overcome flaws
— AJC: With Gurley suspended, is Georgia done?
— MyAJC: If Gurley broke rules, that’s on him
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: No Gurley, no Dogs, no kidding
— AJC: Blank stands by Smith, Dimitroff. What say you?
— MyAJC: Arthur Blank won’t give Falcons’ mandates, speculate on future
— AJC: Falcons have turned this week into a must-win game
— MyAJC: Georgia Tech’s season may be turning into something special
— AJC: Short takes on Georgia Tech’s win over Miami, starting with … defense?
— AJC: Tech has a chance to take charge in ACC Coastal
— AJC: Braves should have left Gonzalez decision to new GM

Reader Comments 0

388 comments
bedstuyfalconfan
bedstuyfalconfan

Smitty's message has worn thin and players are just  going through the motions.  The young guys are lead by example, so they too are developing bad habits. I think TD should get another chance. The amount of O-line injuries the last two years is baffling. We do need a complete coaching overhaul and conditioning/training coaches are of utmost importance. We should not be having this many injuries on a regular basis.

FalconJames
FalconJames

The only coach worse than Mike Smith was Dan Reeves and Blank did not seem to have a problem firing him. What gives?


baseball sucks
baseball sucks

Hey ,When  you see Mike Smith in one of those post game  conferences after a lost,, voice barely audible  eyes daze , and looking like  he going to burst into tears  at any second  ,how can you not  feel sorry for the guy ,even though you have just spent  three hours  calling him everything  but a child of God in that time and his players.  Mike Smith has that  soft , kind face that everybody favorite  Uncle in the family  that all of us have or had ,  but you know if he was  our dad instead of Uncle Mike  it wouldn't probably work ,because man we know we .  would  use it way to far ....... Mike Smith  the Head coach is probably  a great guy to get along with as a player he is probably  the kind of guy the falcon players  could even sit down and have a beer with after  even after a  LOST  , but  it would be much better to have a head coach  that the players  would like to throw a beer on  even after a WIN , .... Look at the league  history of great successful  coaches of the NFL , Lombardi, Landry  Nolan, Walsh,Noll Shula and even the recent SB coach  Carroll their aren't many Uncle Mike  types  on  that list. and you likely never will

BirdBeak
BirdBeak

@baseball sucks I agree but, this game isn't about being a favorite Uncle. It is about winning. This team (in the most general terms of "team") is inept. It isn't even competitive. It is a classic example of Atlanta Falcons football. It is following the tradition of failure of this franchise. It is a mirror image over 40+ years of past teams that can't compete on an given Sunday. This franchise is failure exemplified. It is tattooed in the dna of the Falcons. Every time you think the past failure of this team is history it returns with a vengeance. The horrible truth is, if you try to be a fan, historically there has to be a top and a bottom to every list of sports team. There has to be great franchises and horrible ones. The Falcons are now and will be in the future one of the few teams that never ever were able to turn it around. At least in my lifetime and that is really all I can be concerned with.

dtk1
dtk1

Matt Ryan and Mike smith have lost their touch!.....oh well, I guess Atlanta is a loser town....We are stuck with Ryan.....and Julio who can't catch......and cost us a zillion draft choices....it's a failure....start over...

jawbone
jawbone

Let the season play out then make major overhaul of the operation. Demi and Smith will never take the birds to a SB! AND, Matt Ryan is a second tier QB and will never be anything more. I hope Blank has the foresight to see the obvious.

Imagine getting a new stadium with a franchise in such a muddled position. People bring championships, not unlimited money.

Wilbo
Wilbo

Can anybody w some knowledge of football history even dare to try and come up w a crazier, stupider coaching decision than this lunatic man stopping the clock w 25 seconds left? 


I'm not sure the man shouldn't be investigated for possibly throwing this game on purpose.


RafeHollister
RafeHollister

It becomes more and more apparent every day that Bernie Marcus must have been the genius behind starting Home Depot, and Arthur Blank must have been on board to fetch the pizza and run errands. 

RhymingMike
RhymingMike

It's embarrasing to see

And clearly something to fix

That a team with all this talent

Has fallen to 2 and 6.

Sure the talent isn't there

and Dimtroff takes the blame

For too many free agent hires

With big talk, but little game.

Being out scored 70-7

In the fourth these last six games

Is enough to convince many

that Smitty must give up the reigns.

But let's not be too hasty

to look for something new.

Let's remember the five years of glory

That this braintrust took us through.

Coach and GM of the year

Don't suddenly get dumb

Despite 18 games of awful

And failure to stop the run.

The next eight games are critical.

Can they show that they deserve

The opportunity to right this ship

And the chance to continue to serve?

The sign that we are fine?

Let's see us finish 7 and 9.

This will give us hope, and show the "braintrust" is no joke

And it just needs a bit more time.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@BirdBeak @RhymingMike: "Let's remember the five years of glory . . . ."

______________________

You mean the 1-4 record in the playoffs? 

If that's "glory," you can have it.

DoctorNo
DoctorNo

That was definitely an equal opportunity loss. Offense, defense and coaches all share the blame. It really is confounding given Smith's record prior to last season. I think it has a lot more to do with personnel than the head coach.  Not sure how much weight Smith has on personnel matters. 

Chattanoogajames
Chattanoogajames

Why did the Falcons lose? Let me count the ways

coaching is terrible
our 2 highest paid players Ryan and Jones screw up
we have no depth on the offensive line
we don't cover their only receiver that is not hurt
our middle linebacker cannot tackle
we cannot rush the passer
we cannot block for a run
we cannot block for a pass
we have no creativity in our play calling
our DB's can't cover
our punter can't punt
our coaches do not know how to count or read a clock
we call timeouts to help the other team
we hold defensively on a run play
we hold instead of taking a knee to run out the clock
instead of a run play to run out the clock we throw a pass play that looks like a run, except when our best player does not catch the pass , they get enough time to win the game
we throw passes to the other team, and none of our players are anywhere around
We get a break on pass interference in the end zone, but it is called back because our quarterback is called for a penalty trying to make a tackle
our Quarterback fumbles often
we cannot keep our players healthy, even in the preseason
we resign players that continue to be hurt, Sam Baker, Witherspoon,William Moore, to bidg contracts
Many of our starters would be on other teams practice squads, Bartu, Worrilo,New center, Tiolo, 
Our first round pick can't get on the field Rasheed
We can create crazy ways to lose games

Please Mr. Blank, you can see poor management in play here. You already gave them a second chance. Fire these bums. Trade away our most expensive players for draft choices. You may not be able to fire the coach now but you can fire that worthless general manager and let the new one start to fix the mess. Dimitroff has run out of the tricks that he stole from the New England Patriots. Now he is on is own and clueless. Other than drafting the son of a hall of famer with the 6th pick, the last 3 drafts have been a bust. Cleveland just got another first round draft choice for Richardson who was one of 5 picks we gave up for Julio, who will soon be gone or overpaid by you. Do not put good money after bad. Most of the fans have given up on our coaches and GM. We are a bust internationally now.

bradley225
bradley225

The problems are personnel related. They have absolutely no depth and the practice squad is of no real use.  When injuries come, and they always do, there's nobody to turn to.  The front office has not addressed defensive issues that have been obvious for years.  ATL has never had that player other teams have to scheme around. You don't have to be an NFL executive to see the needs in ATL  The o-line has been hit more than ever this year, but again, the players who are brought to the first team can't seem to meet the needs.  And at RB, they have put their money on a player that was on his way down when they signed him (Jackson).  The others are good, but like with the defense, there is no one other teams really have to make adjustments to their game plan for.  I think they need to replace Dimitroff and not Smith.  Smith can only coach up what he is given, and it's obvious he has not much to really work with.

baseball sucks
baseball sucks

@bradley225 You nail it with the falcon  have never had a player other teams felt they had to scheme around to beat,especially when you are talking about on the defensive side,  this year HOF inductee  Claude Humphrey  was a great DE for Atl.  ,but that was in like the  late sixties ,early seventies,,but Claude really  no help  with that  new franchise , and Deion  was gone as soon as he could get to  free agencies , it's just amazing that this team  has not been able to  find a diamond in the ruff mid round or  undrafted  free agents  who  have put up pro bowl numbers   and become big impact players in the league ,everybody else in the league have find that kind of player of two except for this team,  Just what are the odds that out of  the hundreds of  DT,DE, LB   this team wouldn't  get a player or two in the last decade  that was a super  defensive star in the league. Well if your  gm and hc ,and scouts   can't  find a diamond in the ruff ,they shouls have at least  find a   great  impact player through   having a a high  first rd pack right WRONG,,   Atl. with the very first pick in the draft select Aundre Bruce who registered about  three and a half sacks  in his  short useless career with Atl and Oakland  i think

BirdBeak
BirdBeak

@baseball sucks @bradley225 I can't say I believe in curses on a football team but other than that and just horrible bad luck it is quite amazing really how this franchise can be so inept for so long through so many changes. The list of bad decisions, and total failures is hard to understand or grasp. Letting Brett Farve go, letting Deion leave, the debacle of Vick. Boggles the mind how one organization can constantly make such bad decisions.

DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

I want a coach who'll reel Matt in, who knows his weaknesses and what he does well. Someone to call plays accordingly. The owner needs to bring someone in who can evaluate this staff and---cut some of these players who aren't contributing. A coach with a personality that's tuff and knows how to build a winner through the draft and free agency. Starting with the trenches on both sides of the ball. A coach who doesn't down play the pass rush. One who can make sound decisions in a tight game and manages the clock. The next coach should see his personality stamped all over his team. Last but not least--- a GM who can get the right players on the team, who have a passion for football and want to win at all cost. Mr. Blank is the only one who can pull the plug on this misery.

carlc599
carlc599

even the reincarnation of Vince Lombardi couldn't win with this defense!!     GM hires the players, thus he needs to be the one to go and go NOW!!!     we have a million dollar offense and a 50 cent defense

GASportsFan1906
GASportsFan1906

I believe that something should be done. The Falcons don't have any pass rushers but they are paying Kroy Biermann $4.0 Mil and Osi $4.0 mil this year. Dimtroff is just as much at fault as Smith. That was definitely bad clock management at the end of the game. Run the ball on third and let the clock run. At that rate the, the Lions would have gotten the ball back with 30-45 seconds left. Mike Smith has made a lot of bad coaching decisions over the past two years. Playing the starters in the last game of the season in 2012 when the game meant nothing in the standings. Abraham got hurt and we had no pass rush in the playoffs. Going for it on 4th down in our own end on several occasions. Consistant bad clock management. Not a good recent track record.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@GASportsFan1906

Disagree with you on that 2012 finale. Teams that accept losing--regardless of the "standings"--don't win championships. ATL is a prime example of that. Same thing happened to the team in 1980--go back and look--and it took years to overcome that. Check out our record since that '12 loss to TB; it's happening all over again.

cspecial
cspecial

mike smith isn"t the problem.its matt ryan.did you see how calm he was after the game? no one could have been that stupid and throw the interception he threw.he reminded me of paul crew in the movie the longest yard.he was more excited about going to London than winning the game. I believe he got paid good along with the game officials to help the lions win the game.the league is trying to make perrineil losers become winners this season like Minnesota, dallas, Miami, new Orleans who is the voodoo capital so as a tribute to the satanic society, they made them seem successful after Katrina.smith has done wonders with the team.hes just in the way of the league wanting certain cities to win to make money for them.its unfortunately, Atlanta isn"t one of those cities.

ATLDurtyBurd
ATLDurtyBurd

@cspecial I feel your pain!!! I want it bad too. But no conspiracy here!!!!! We flat out stink!!! You cant Win a superbowl game on "Big Breaks". That is primarily Mike Smiths record with the falcons. He is a good coach. But GREAT HEAD coach's win Super Bowls. See Smithy has nothing to shoot for. He has a Superbowl ring, that he won here in Atlanta. In the SAME GA Dome he plays in. People forget. He was a Defensive Coach for the RAVENS before coaching at Jax. He is a Defensive Minded coach. Why are we 31st in the league at defense? So its not conspiracy. It' s coaching #firemikesmith

GrayHairedFalconGirl
GrayHairedFalconGirl

@ATLDurtyBurd @cspecial Disagree.  Money is being payed to officials and more.  Look at some of their calls.  They usually don't see the opponents flagrant fouls but ALWAYS call ours.  

BTC
BTC

Well, Monday has come and gone.  Don't hold your breath waiting on this one folks...

ATLDurtyBurd
ATLDurtyBurd

@BTC I refuse to give up!!! I am a #triedandtrue #dirtybird. Feet don't fail me now!!!

ATLDurtyBurd
ATLDurtyBurd

@GrayHairedFalconGirl @ATLDurtyBurd @BTC But thats part of our issue too!!! As the Falcon Identity as a whole!!! We talk trash when we win, but go and hide when we lose. That's part of the reason we get such a bad rap. Nobody, like the kid who talked trash then when they got talked about they went a told mom!!! We never played with that kid and took all shots when we could. Be honest!!!! If you a fan take the beating and tongue lashing!!! I line everybody up and take it everywhere I go. I'm known as the dirty bird. At work, On Marta At the park At church. And I tell you what!!!! People are starting to be like ok they do have some real fans!!! Maybe they are a REAL team with a Real Fan base!!!. I don't get as bad anymore. I get Keep ya head up!!! Hold, on!!!! ETC.....Then maybe a sly comment afterwards. But its all good!!! We have to stick by our team WIN, LOOSE or DRAW!!!! My son had a Lil League Football game yesterday. Me, My Wife and 4 kids(-1) all had on Falcon gear!!!! We are Ride or Die!!! My 9 year old (who played Yesterday) even wanted to wear a RED Falcon Tshirt today for red ribbon week at school. I'm like son we lost yesterday. He said, So Im still a Falcon!!!! I just hugged him and encouraged him Ironed his shirt!!!!

GrayHairedFalconGirl
GrayHairedFalconGirl

@ATLDurtyBurd @GrayHairedFalconGirl @BTC Dude.  The only one I support that much is Jesus Christ.  I am obsessed with football but I don't support any team through this much humiliation.  I'll give it to you, if that's why you want to do.  Fine. But I am from FLORIDA.  HAHAHA.  Stay true.  PS - fair weather fans or weather outside have nothing to do with our record.  This kind of stink starts from the top down.


BirdBeak
BirdBeak

@ATLDurtyBurd As a 30 year fan I say this. The Falcons as an organization are historically one  the worse in the NFL. They are no better than they were 25 years ago. Owners changes, coaches change, players change and still they are hopeless losers. The team must be cursed or something. I don' t know but this I do know. They are not close to even being enjoyable to watch, not competitive, they epitimize failure from top to bottom.You can watch and cheer and wear your colors but in the end you will have your guts torn out, and will waste a Sunday afternoon. Check your Falcons history, They are a laughing stock, door mat, lousy excuse, failure of a team! Here is what Falcons Stand For. 


Fans
Always

Left

Counting

On 

Next 

Season.





ctfalconsfan
ctfalconsfan

I think smitty would be a good coach for JAX or OAK but not ATL. His time here is complete so I'm not sure what Blank is waiting on...

ATLDurtyBurd
ATLDurtyBurd

@ctfalconsfan  What happend to the 2:30 press conference. I wen to the site http://www.atlantafalcons.com/ and the it appears we not gone play on 11/9/2014 at Raymond James Stadium. The Countdown to Kickoff timer is not counting!!!! WTH?!?!?!?!?!?!? Our season is really over!!

Birdfanforlife
Birdfanforlife

You got to fire him. It sucks because I think he works hard and he is a good guy but his decision making has been pretty piss poor in game for several years. We were good enough to overcome the bad coaching for the first 5 years - Matt Ryan would pull us out of the fire, but we aren't good enough now to make up for lousy in game coaching. Imagine what Sean Peyton or Chip Kelly or Andy Reid would do with our offense. . .Grant it our Oline is not great but so what.


Of course it goes without saying that Thomas D. has to go as well. This team is truly his and its not good - especially on D.


Go get a good offensive mind and a solid D -coordinator and go pick up some linebackers in free agency and we will be good again very quickly. 

newshound65
newshound65

Blank has his new billion dollar stadium thanks to Mayor Reed putting the taxpayers on the hook.  Why should Blank now care how the Falcons perform from this point forward?  Follow the money...

ATLDurtyBurd
ATLDurtyBurd

@newshound65 Your comment has no relevance in this conversation. Please post your Political view on a Political MB. We are past the stadium issue. Lets talk through current relevant issues. Thanks!!!

churchofthepainfultruth
churchofthepainfultruth

The last Atlanta coach I saw fall to his knees in despair on the sideline was Jim Mora Jr., right after Roddy White dropped (big surprise) a long pass in the Dome.  I'd be willing to bet the U-Haul had already been reserved for Mora at that point, so I would imagine the same thing is going on for Smith.


I've been a Falcon fan for 15+ years, and I really enjoyed (past tense) the few years Dimitroff and Smith made us "relevant" in the NFL.  That being said, the Falcons have yet to develop a championship mentality - the attitude to smack the lesser teams for 4 quarters without question and the self-respect to pony up and protect a 2- or 3-score lead (the most glaring example prior to yesterday - the NFC Championship game).  I'm not knowledgeable enough to know how much is due to coaching vs. the talent of the roster, but I've got to believe it's a healthy combination of both.  


The biggest failure in my opinion is how the team handles free agency and the draft.  It doesn't take decades of scouting experience to see Julio Jones as a 1st round talent.  It probably does, however, require a ton of skill and vision to find the 3rd - 7th rounders that turn out to be good and great players.  For whatever reason, it appears our back office has underachieved here for some time.  Our free agent signings turn into ghosts (Umenyiora, Ray Edwards, Steven Jackson, the list goes on).  Also, I feel like on a number of occasions we've let free agents go to other teams and have them promptly turn in a Pro Bowl year.  The vision for talent and backbone seem off.


Hopefully whoever we choose with the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th pick of the 2015 draft can inject a little attitude and testosterone back into Flowery Branch.  I'm tired of it.

BirdBeak
BirdBeak

@churchofthepainfultruth They fail at the draft as much as anything else. They fail at hiring coaches. So where would find any hope for this franchise?


Kel75
Kel75

Can ANY coach turn them around this season? NO, your poll is flawed.