I know that the Falcon fan base has been waiting in complete suspense to hear my views on the hiring of Mike Smith (sarcasm). Let’s get one thing straight: I have confirmed that this isn’t a made up person, as much as his name may sound like it. Mike Smith is an actual coach, with experience and a playbook and everything. What do I think of him? Well, here goes…
I must say I was a little shocked when I heard the news of Smith’s hire. Arthur Blank has always seemed like the kind of guy that wants to make a splash with these sorts of things…he’s a little attention starved. Even throughout the whole Vick fiasco, he would feign sadness and disappointment, but you could almost sense an excitement at being the center of attention. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.
Onto Smith…he seems nice enough. And while that sounds like a dismissive statement, it’s far from such. With this hire, I was focusing on the attitude and personality of the coach, given the Petrino disaster. These Falcons players needed a coach they could talk to and feel comfortable around. They did not need a Jim Mora, who they felt comfortable to treat as a colleague rather than a coach, but they also did not need a Petrino-like dictator. As I’ve said in this space before, they needed something in between. From initial reports, it looks like that’s what they’ve gotten.
New GM Thomas Dimitroff heralded Smith’s personnel acumen. I’ll be interested to see this on display, as the Falcons have had an extreme shortage of any type of skill when it comes to judging talent. With a high (or is it low?) pick in the upcoming draft and many holes to fill, this may prove to be one of the most critical drafts for the franchise in a long time.
Perhaps more importantly than the Smith hiring itself is that the new coach is assembling a nice staff. I’m of the opinion that head coaches mean little these days as far as X’s and O’s. Very rarely are they calling plays and setting formations…they are more often managing their staff and the players as a whole. Their coordinators are the ones that are assembling playbooks and teaching the players the execution. Certainly, the head coach instills an overall philosophy, but it’s up to the coordinators to make sure that philosophy is carried out. With Mike Mularkey heading up the offense and Brian Van Gorder controlling the defense, I’m confident in their tactical skills (assuming Van Gorder is still the DC…as of press time, he is. That may change in the next couple of hours).
Regardless, it’s another change. And many times, change for the sake of change is not a good thing. In the Falcons’ case, it’s a GREAT thing, because any amount of change within the organization enables the team to bury 2007 a little deeper.