The Atlanta Falcons are getting ready to face off against the New York Giants on Sunday in the first round of the NFL playoffs. It's the third trip to the postseason for Atlanta in the past four years under head coach Mike Smith. The Falcons have lost their first game in both of those playoff appearances and a third straight early exit may have dire consequences for the coaching staff.
Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Tuesday that Smith is trying to get his team into the correct mindset for their game against the Giants. The Falcons have shown lapses in toughness this season, both physically and mentally. Those lapses were key in some of their previous postseason failures.
Smith wouldn’t divulge what he’ll tell his team the night before the game in New York. But I’m guessing he just touched on elements of it. The Falcons weren’t prepared last season before the Green Bay playoff game. Smith admits now that he botched the bye week, giving players "too much down time." He wanted them to be fresh, but by game day they had lost their edge.
There will be no margin for error in Sunday's game.
"We have talent," Smith said. "We have to play at a higher level than we’ve played all season to win in the playoffs."
As all Falcons fans seem to agree, the time to win is now. Atlanta will have a chance to silence the naysayers on Sunday, or else risk wearing the "overrated" tag for yet another year.