As the Atlanta Falcons prepare to begin another season packed with expectations, owner Arthur Blank flat-out says coach Mike Smith is not on the hot seat.
That is a little difficult to imagine. The Falcons are coming off a 10-6 season and they were bounced in the wild-card round of the playoffs by the eventual champion New York Giants. The year before, the Falcons entered the postseason as the NFC’s No. 1 seed and got smashed at home in the divisional round by the eventual champion Green Bay Packers.
At some point, the Falcons are going to have to produce postseason success for Smith to remain in place.
“He’s not on any hot seat,” Blank told D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Coach Smith, he and (general manager) Thomas (Dimitroff), I particularly feel really blessed – and I don’t use that word every day, all day long – I feel blessed having them both in place. The last four years to have the record that we’ve established after 42 years of not having back-to-back winning seasons, to have four of them back-to-back-to-back-to-back winning seasons and be in the playoffs three of four years, to have a coach that’s been named coach of the year two out of four years in the NFL. And Thomas being named executive of the year twice the last four years, is . . . very impressive.
“I have a high degree of confidence in the partnership and the consistency of the team and the sustainability of the team we have. I think it’s important this time of the year when you get into late August and early September that you are in the mix in terms of playoff conversation amongst the media, with the national pundits, and the local ones as well. I think we’ve reached that level. Obviously, we are trying to get to the next level. I have confidence that we’ll be able to do that. I have faith in Smitty and faith in Thomas and faith in all of our coaches. I really do.”
It remains to be seen if that faith will erode and do so quickly if the Falcons can’t have success in January this season.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune