Mike Smith Flying with Falcons

The Jacksonville Jaguars are officially now one of the NFL's top-tiered teams. Why now? Because the team finally has a detriment that many of the good teams have to deal with, their coaching staff being raided.

It is being reported by ESPN that Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Smith is about to be hired as the new head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.

The former Daytona Beach native will take over a team that was an absolute mess in 2007, so much so that their first year coach, Bobby Petrino, quit with three weeks remaining in the regular season. The Falcons finished with a 4-12 record, and major question marks at most positions, including quarterback.

The good news for Falcons fans is that their 29th ranked defense is sure to get better with Mike Smith under the helm. Smith took a team that was salary cap stricken with very little talent and saw a major first year improvement in Jacksonville. The 2002 Jaguars finished with the 20th ranked defense overall, and in Smith's first year in 2003, the team finished with the 6th overall ranking. Smith's defenses finished in the top 12 every season since he took over, while his teams were battling major injuries to starters nearly every year.

The Jaguars will be losing a great coach, but that's part of life in the NFL for winning teams. The Patriots coaching staff gets raided nearly every season, and so do most of the successful franchises. Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio addressed the issue of success leading to more opportunities for his staff-

"One of the things I said to the staff and players yesterday is that change is a part of the NFL. You're constantly being evaluated. You're constantly being pushed and challenged. When you have success then people want to come in, whether they're in free agency trying to get your players or trying to get your coaches, that's just part of the game. So we understand that and we've got plans to address those things and you deal with them as they come up. I think you understand there are possibilities that are out there, and you do your best to prepare for those possibilities. Obviously in terms of the staff that we've assembled here, I'm very proud of the staff we've assembled. They did a nice job working and maximizing, I thought, what we had available to us this year and we'll look to continue to do that. So we'd like to have the continuity where we can and where we can't we'll make the adjustments and move forward."

The early favorite to step in for Mike Smith as defensive coordinator is Jaguars assistant head coach, and also the secondary coach, Dave Campo. Campo has head coach experience with the Dallas Cowboys, and has won three Super Bowls as an assistant.

Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of JagNation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, MySpace Sports and Sportsillustrated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.

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