I got a text from a friend Sunday night. It read: “[The Falcons] will never win a SB with that coach/QB combo. Never.”
At first I dismissed this missive as lashing out by a depressed 49ers fan, who was likely ornery after the Indianapolis Colts traveled across the country to put a whipping on a seriously regressing Colin Kaepernick.
But who am I kidding? I totally agree.
If a standard NFL game were only 15 minutes long, the Falcons would be the perennial favorites to win the Lombardi trophy. But games are 60 minutes long, and the Falcons coaching staff just can’t seem to keep their team motivated for that length of time. Leads are squandered. Mid-game lulls are commonplace. And the comebacks haven’t been coming—as they once did.
After five years of watching him play, I think I’m convinced that Matt Ryan is not the problem. I think a coach who “coaches up” players, who players desperately don’t want to disappoint, who makes smart gambles, etc., can win with Matt Ryan. Bill Cowher and Jim Harbaugh come to mind.
Mike Smith, is no Cowher or Harbaugh. He seems to get stuck on words, like “resiliency” and “explosiveness,” repeating them to a team that regularly showcases neither trait. His managerial echolalia isn’t even what annoys me most about him. It’s that he’s a defensive coach—prior to joining the Falcons, he was the defensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars—who has never really had a feared defense. He seems completely mismatched with the team he currently has, an on-paper offensive juggernaut that in real life is sort of ho hum and average.
I think Smith might be one of those coaches who can get you to the playoffs and no further. He’s Dan Reeves without the suit. He’s Andy Reid. For an in-state example, he’s the NFL version of Mark Richt.
Case in point: Falcons beat reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, D. Orlando Ledbetter, just tweeted that offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has set a goal of turning 55 percent of red zone possessions into touchdowns. My question: Why isn’t the goal 100 percent? If you aspire to it and fall short, you’re still a damn good football team. Aspiring to mediocrity is what’s gotten this team to where it’s at now.
I just don’t see the Mike Smith regime leading us to a trophy.