Mike Smith is the best coach the Atlanta Falcons have ever had. But is he good enough to lead the team to a Super Bowl? After three playoff losses (which glosses over the fact that the Falcons have made the playoffs thrice in four years, an improbable fact (also, all three to eventual Super Bowl teams)) and an ass-kickin' press conference to start the offseason, I suppose it's reasonable to wonder whether Smith's job is on the line this year.
Arthur Blank does not appear to find it reasonable, via a chat with Pete Prisco:
"Absolutely," Blank said when I asked him if Smith was safe, no matter what happens in 2012. "He will be fine. He will be here for a very long time."
It's the dreaded vote of confidence, the world's dumbest sports cliche! Still don't know how an owner is supposed to comment on his coach without giving a dreaded vote of confidence, short of saying, "this is not a dreaded vote of confidence."
General manager Thomas Dimitroff agrees:
So when Dimitroff heard the talk about his friend's job status, it irked him like it irked many in the building.
"I just don't know where that stuff comes from," Dimitroff said.
Smith has taken heat for going it on fourth down too often, but it's been the right decision almost every time. If a play call doesn't work or if a running back lingers before hitting the hole, that's the fault of the play caller, not the head coach.
The Falcons would be wise to give Smith at least two years with his new coordinators, pretty much no matter what happens this year. A transition season of sorts wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, with two new schemes and a lack of both draft picks and cap room. Not to mention four years worth of what should be goodwill, no matter how impatient this fan base has grown for a championship.
I probably sound like a big homer.