LIVE: Falcons hire search firm? Horrible timing, Arthur Blank

“Congratulations on beating Saints, Smitty. By the way, I’ve hired a search firm.” (Getty Images)

"Congratulations on beating Saints, Smitty. By the way, I've hired a search firm." (Getty Images)

“Congratulations on beating Saints, Smitty. By the way, I’ve hired a search firm.” (Getty Images)

Congratulations, Arthur Blank. You just lost class and style points.

With the Falcons’ set to play an all-or-nothing game against the Carolina Panthers for the NFC South Division title, ESPN.com is reporting that the team has hired the search firm, Korn Ferry, to identify head coaching candidates in the likely event that coach Mike Smith is fired.

The fact that Smith is on the verge of losing his job is the worst kept secret in Atlanta. The Falcons are 6-9 this season and 10-21 in two years since reaching the NFC championship game against San Francisco in 2012. It’s believed the only way Smith can save his job is to defeat Carolina today to win the division and then win at least one playoff game, and possibly two (thereby reaching the conference title game again).

I have two problems with ESPN’s story:

1.) While no source has been identified, the kind of story can only be leaked by one of two parties, the Falcons or the search firm. Search firms are notoriously secretive. NFL owners and front office executives are notorious for leaking stories to their television “partners” like ESPN in hopes of currying favor — and few  do this more than Blank. But what’s the point of leaking this now? Smith is as nice and classy a man as you could want to meet. His players have played hard for him down the stretch. No players or coaches in the organization deserve for this story to get out now. It couldn’t wait until after the season?

2.) This is just a personal viewpoint, but why hire a search firm at all? I could name the potential top six candidates to replace Smith right now and I’m just a guy with a laptop and a Google search window. I remember having a conversation with Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity about search firms and his observation always struck me: “What do I need a search firm for? Isn’t that my job?” Bingo.

Smith was asked last week about his tenuous job status and gave his most expansive answer yet: ““I’m going to prepare just like I’ve done for the seven years that I’ve been here. My focus is on winning football games and winning the next football game. I’m going to continue to do that until Arthur Blank tells me differently.”

The Falcons are slight favorites to defeat Carolina, largely because they’re at home. But that will be difficult. Losing safety William Moore (again) is a significant hit to the defense. Carolina also is a much better team than the one the Falcons faced Nov. 16, in part because of running back Jonathan Stewart (78 carries for 437 yards, a 5.6 per-carry average in the last four games). Panthers were 3-8-1 but have won three straight, which makes them the only NFC South team to do so this year.

But the Falcons have been getting great performances by some members of the defense and wide receiver Julio Jones, who has three straight 100-yard-plus games. They’re in position to win the South because they have yet to lose a division game (5-0), even while going 1-9 against other opponents. So if form follows and they win, they’ll go to the playoffs as the No. 4 seed and host a wild card team next week.

As expected, running back Steven Jackson (quadriceps) is inactive but Jones is in the lineup.

I’ll be live blogging all game. I’ll now open the floor to you. What are your thoughts on today’s game and the Falcons already hiring a search firm for a new coach?


A recent writer’s dozen from the digital jukebox
— MyAJC: Julio Jones has reaffirmed his worth to Falcons
— MyAJC: Christmas is 12 days? Well, this calls for presents
— AJC: With Bobo gone, should Richt call plays again at Georgia?
— MyAJC: Even amid gloom, Falcons showing positive signs
— AJC: Hey Hawks, here’s your chance to get Josh and Joe back!
— MyAJC: Falcons can make most of this illogical journey
— AJC: Short takes: Falcons stun Saints, and it’s thanks to the defense
— AJC: Live: Falcons finally in a can’t-lose situation
— MyAJC: Falcons still have playoff shot — and that’s not a negative
— MyAJC: There goes Justin Upton, and maybe ’15 season with him
— AJC: Justin Upton is latest chapter of Braves’ strip down
— MyAJC: Ranking Atlanta’s head coaches, from Budenholzer to…
— AJC: After crushing Cavs, Hawks (18-7) have earned some attention
— MyAJC: Expect Falcons’ roster overhaul, regardless of finish
— AJC: 5 thoughts on Falcons, starting with Arthur Blank’s marketing problem
— MyAJC: John Hart: ‘It’s not like I’m breaking up the ’27 Yankees’
— AJC: Falcons reality check: One great half won’t get it done
— AJC: What would it take for Falcons to keep Mike Smith
 — MyAJC: Hawks go from off-cour embarrassment to on-court success
— AJC: Playoff committee got teams right but changes are needed
— AJC: Jimbo Fisher leaves Georgia off ballot; Bielema puts Tech 19th on his (huh?)
— AJC: Playoff committee got teams right but changes are needed

 

Reader Comments 0

1127 comments
BCW1
BCW1

The first sentence says it all!!!

HelpUsGod
HelpUsGod

all you cry babies will be in that new stadium they are building for this billionaire....


92.9  Marc and Randy show - How you like Cam Newton now !!!

eluv
eluv

I hate we hate hate!!!!this new blog set up by AJC.   OMG!!! It is horrendous!!!!!!

eluv
eluv

With our high powered offense we could only put up 3 points. Our Georgia teams are cursed. As good as the Hawks are playing now I am so afraid of getting on the bandwagon because Georgia teams always let you down.

Columbusnative
Columbusnative

Wow!, Just Wow!..I hate to see Smitty go but if he goes then Dimitroff surely needs to go before/with him.  We are #8 in the next draft pick so in true Falcons fan fashion..." There's always next season". 

Stokesy
Stokesy

Two things... no surprise Smith will be fired tomorrow.  We were talking about this weeks ago... remember the name Kevin Sumlin?  How about firing the O-Co and D-Co and bringing in Muschamp for Defense.  Yes, Falcons fan for years.. I'm not a turncoat, but good grief... My husband laughs when I call ghe first three plays of every drive... 1st and 10, incomplete pass down the field, 2nd and 10, run up the middle, 3rd and 10, complete 5 yard pass!! Typical!

96 Olympics
96 Olympics

Be careful people.. Imagine the Falcons flying the franchise to sunny LA…or to Cobb County

JoAnn Purcell
JoAnn Purcell

Out-manned, out-physicaled, out-coached.....gonna take at least 3 years to revamp a soft team with undersized oline,dline, and overall small and puny football players

Archangel
Archangel

I see nothing wrong with Blank's approach. Just because Schultz, who probably has never played catch before, doesn't like it doesn't mean that it was a bad move.

BillFalcon
BillFalcon

You are a top notch coach.  Would you consider coming to Atlanta where the owner paces the sideline and does this?  Not a chance.  Blank, no longer Mr.Blank, is an embarrassment.

adarian652
adarian652

Its no secret that Smith was and is going to be fired!!

NewBomb
NewBomb

And we were able to sweep the $aints this year.  I guess it could be worse.

ChefTimDix
ChefTimDix

House Cleaning MUST start with Rich McKay and end with parking attendance at Flowery Branch.


Cultural change will result in good people losing their jobs but a necessary evil.

adarian652
adarian652

Falcons ,Great job to get the position in the draft order!!

AldenS
AldenS

Doris, Blank here. Call Korn Ferry and add a GM to that order. Then get the construction  company on the phone and put the stadium on hold.

adarian652
adarian652

Addy you're right!! The  7 pick in this NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons is, Another BUST!!!!

BillFalcon
BillFalcon

What a despicable leak.  Shame on the Falcons' owner/president. 

extremus
extremus

Smith will no doubt be gone after this sad, sad excuse for a "performance"; this team simply didn't come to play, be it for themselves or their embattled coach.  That's on the players/personnel...and therefore also on Thomas Dimitroff.


I would expect nothing less than a thorough house cleaning to get rid of the quitting losers from the locker room on up after this; it's embarrassing and I hope Arthur Blank raises the roof letting them know NOBODY'S job is safe.  But whether he can temper his (justified) emotions by selecting a coach and new GM who are capable of taking the Falcons to a Superbowl championship...that remains the big question.

Stokesy
Stokesy

To be specifi, Jon Gruden.

Stokesy
Stokesy

Gruden is available.

Addy10
Addy10

With the 7th pick of the first round the Atlanta Falcons select ...

Addy10
Addy10

Prince Shembo's brother.. Prince Membo

adarian652
adarian652

Blank is a business man. He saw this coming. Why wait to search for a good coach. They are hard to come by!!!

Jokurone
Jokurone

totally predicted this blowout, Falcons looked very old and very slow time for a shake up

Ajc sucks
Ajc sucks

The Falcons suck as bad as the new ajc website....and that is some serious suckage!! And if anyone knows about sucking, it would be Jeff schultz

oldbirddawg
oldbirddawg

Why does anyone want Harbaugh or Ryan as coach? They both did less than smith with twice the talent.

kevkat
kevkat

Players should take their balls and millions and go home.

SBerg42
SBerg42

Thanks god I am in Kansas and they showed the Packers Lions game that was a joke! What kind of a game plan was that!


gditty
gditty

Its Jim Harbaugh's job IF he wants it.

EagleDawg1
EagleDawg1

The Falcons do not deserve a new stadium

Stokesy
Stokesy

Did the Falcons even know it was a win and in?? geez

MH18
MH18

Where's a link to Mike Smith's post game Presser?

gditty
gditty

@MH18  He will be doing the interview from the liquor store on West Peachtree tonight. Go buy him a drink.

HelpUsGod
HelpUsGod

@MH18 


I agree...  the suckers have already started on that project

JLTee
JLTee

People complain that we gave up too much to get Julio. What makes anyone in their right mind believe TD would have picked the right players based on his track record? Ewing? Maponga? Goodman? Holmes? Jerry? Konz? Hagerman?

Fire Dimitroff

We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again
We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again

Dimitroff will keep his job for the same reason Fredi Gonzalez kept his: because he's in bed with ownership. It all starts at the top, and owners who prioritize cronyism over winning are a big reason why Atlanta doesn't win championships.

kevkat
kevkat

Now for the real excitement...Post game interviews