Flashback to Jan. 2008: The Atlanta Falcons, coming off a disasterous Bobby Petrino-induced 4-12 season, named Jacksonville Jaguars assistant, Mike Smith, as their new head coach. Who? What's he done? I mean, even his name is boring. That was the common response when the hire was made. Sexier choices were out there in Leslie Frazier, Rex Ryan, Jason Garrett, Tony Sparano, Jim Schwartz and Steve Spagnuolo but Falcons owner Arthur Blank was looking for "a track record of success, a solid, smart approach to the game, and high character and integrity." Especially, after the year that was.
Flashforward to today: The Atlanta Falcons are enjoying their best season as a franchise since their Super Bowl season in 1998 and head coach Smith has been the primary reason. He's won 32 games - a record for a head coach in his first three seasons - and turned a franchise in disarray into a title contender in under three seasons. His effort is about to be rewarded, according to Adam Schefter:
Atlanta has begun contract extension discussions with HC Mike Smith, Baltimore has done same with HC John Harbaugh. Off-season is target.
Smith became the first Falcons head coach to have back-to-back winning seasons, the only Falcons coach to post multiple 10-win seasons and is already the fourth-winningest coach in team history, trailing only Leeman Bennett, NORM VAN BROCKLIN, and Dan Reeves. The steady ownership of Arthur Blank, the drafting of Matt Ryan and the maturation of Roddy White all played key factors in turning this franchise around but it's been Smith who's made sure all these ingredients mixed together and he has the Falcons preparing to lock up home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs and put a little extra coin in his pocket as well. Smith's original deal was for four years worth between $8 million and $10 million.