Mike Smith fired by Atlanta Falcons
After a lengthy skid, the Falcons decided to part ways with veteran coach Mike Smith.
The Atlanta Falcons announced today that head coach Mike Smith was released from his contract. The Falcons finished another subpar season at 6-10 and team owner Arthur Blank decided it was time for Smith to go.
“Smitty’s contributions to our club, team and city over the last seven years are numerous,” Blank said. “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.”
Smith has been on the hot seat for well over a year, after the Falcons shocked the NFL with their 4-12 record in 2013. This season, the Falcons were a popular pick to rebound, but instead they mostly mirrored the miserable performance of the previous year. Although the offense played well under quarterback Matt Ryan in the last few weeks, the defense looked awful all season, giving up a league-worst 398.25 yards per game.
From sloppy penalties to time management issues, the Falcons frustrated fans on multiple levels throughout the season and Fire Mike Smith became a popular refrain among them. The tipping point for Blank might have been in Week 12, when Smith left just enough time on the clock for the Cleveland Browns to come back and win the game on a last-second field goal.
This came just a month after a particularly deflating loss to the Detroit Lions, in which Smith’s team tied a franchise record for biggest comeback allowed. Blank shared his gripes publicly after the game.
“You’re up 21-0,” Blank told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “There’s no way you lose that game — just no way. There’s nothing else I can say.”
Although the Falcons bounced back somewhat in the second half of the season, their efforts weren’t enough for Smith to keep his job. The 55-year-old coach went 66-46 with four playoff berths in his first five seasons in Atlanta, highlighted by a 13-3 season in 2012 that ended with a trip to the NFC Championship. But the team unexpectedly hit a wall the following season, one that began with legitimate Super Bowl hype.
Returning a healthy Julio Jones and a retooled defense, the Falcons were expected to make a turnaround in 2014, but they fell short in the NFC South, where no team finished with a winning record.