Mike Smith was fired by the Atlanta Falcons today, though it may have actually happened minutes after his team was embarrassed at home, 34-3 by the Carolina Panthers. I suppose he could have been given his walking papers at halftime of that embarrassing season finale, but we’ll never know.
Smith’s firing did not come as a surprise, as multiple media outlets have reported on owner Arthur Blank’s frustration with the Falcons’ shortcomings over the last two seasons.
“Smitty’s contributions to our club, team and city over the last seven years are numerous,” Blank said in a release. “His accomplishments on the field made him the most successful coach in the 49-year history of the Falcons, and we are grateful for the foundation he has laid for us for the future.”
The Falcons were Smith’s first head coaching job, and he went to the playoffs in four of the first five years, but he only won one of those games. After a difficult loss in the NFC title game to San Francisco in January 2013, the Falcons ran into bad luck – star receiver Julio Jones got hurt in 2013, and then injuries mounted in 2014. Smith’s curiously cautious decision-making never really endeared him to fans, and when the losing mounted, owner Arthur Blank had seen enough.
So Smith is gone after a nice run in Atlanta, and the obvious question is who can inject some toughness on this terrible defense?
I think the answer could be Rex Ryan, who is known as a defensive coach, but whose Jets struggled offensively far too often in his New York tenure. Ryan was beloved by the team and the media in New York, but he never had a QB.
Perhaps the bigger question: Does general manager Thomas Dimitroff survive this disaster? I’m not sure. They were built to win three years ago, but when things fell apart in the last two years, there was zero depth.