It's hard to quantify what Mike Smith has meant to the Atlanta Falcons. Statistically, he's been the most successful coach in franchise history and his winning percentage is the best by far.
This guy came out of nowhere. Not many people had ever heard of Mike Smith when Arthur Blank named him as the head coach in January, 2008. He was an assistant coach for the Jaguars and he had never been a head coach at any level before.
Smith has done things no other coach has ever done on the Falcons sideline. He's had consecutive winning seasons, five of them to be exact. Before he arrived, the team had never, never meaning never had consecutive winning seasons.
But the Falcons are on pace for their second straight 4-12 season. They're 2-6 right now at the halfway point of the 2014 season. They thankfully have the week off after one of the worst losses in recent memory Sunday in London to the Lions.
Since losing the 2012 NFC Championship game to San Francisco, the Falcons are 6-12. That's pretty unacceptable, particularly for a team, for an owner who is about to ask people to pay big money for their seats in a new expensive stadium.
Smith took blame for the loss Monday in his press conference. That was admirable, and that's expected from someone who has shown a lot of class in his time with this franchise. But Smith is smart enough to know what is being said, what is being whispered.
This isn't all Smith's fault. He didn't pick the players. Thomas Dimitroff did, and everyone knows he is probably in as much trouble as Smith is right now. But the coach is the one that usually takes the fall, and that's why there's even talk Smith might not make it through the week.
Blank owes Smith more than a midseason pink slip. He does. Smith should be respected for what he's done for this franchise. But how can Blank keep Smith if the Falcons do approach a second straight 4-12 season? That's hard for anyone to ignore. The injuries have crippled this team for the second straight season, but a loss like the one on Sunday will cost people their job.
Should the Falcons fire Mike Smith, regardless of what happens in the second half of the season? Has his fate been decided already? Can Smith save his job? Or are both Smith and Dimitroff on their way out?
It's a question that will be debated heavily over the next few weeks. It's been a long time since this franchise was in this position, and you know it can't be fun for Blank or anyone else in the organization. But if the team continues to play the way it did in the second half of Sunday's game against the Lions, change is inevitable. It's just a question of who can survive and who will be looking for a new gig in the NFL.
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Can Mike Smith survive?
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