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Falcons expected to hire Mike Smith

January 24th, 2008

Jaguars.com ESPN reports that leagues sources have indicated that the Falcons have chosen Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Smith as the person to become the sixteenth coach in franchise history. Previous reports indicated that the Falcons may have have been willing to wait until after the Super Bowl to make this decision. Smith was considered one of the four finalists for the position as well.

ESPN indicates that the Falcons had narrowed down their choices even further, with Smith coming out on top and Leslie Frazier being considered the second best candidate. Per ESPN, Smith “won over the Falcons with his combination of intelligence, communication and organizational skills, and strong knowledge of personnel. Most important, the team believes Smith to be the most professionally compatible with [Falcons GM Thomas] Dimitroff.”

According to ESPN, the Falcons opted not to wait another week for fear that Steve Spagnuolo would spurn their advances and the new coach’s ability to assemble a staff would be diminished.

The AP reports that the team is currently engaged in contract talks with Smith and that a press conference is possibly set for tomorrow.

UPDATE: The hiring of Smith is now official. The AJC is reporting that Smith is believed to have agreed to a four-year deal worth between $8 and $10 million.

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  1. TheCounselor
    January 23rd, 2008 at 18:36 | #1

    Primer – How to Fix the Atlanta Falcons

    Coach – It’s apparent that a lot of “hot” coaching candidates view the Atlanta Falcons situation as undesirable because of the negative news associated with the team as a result of the Bobby Petrino scandalous departure, and to a lesser extent, the Michael Vick “experience”. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that Mr. Blank appoint a head coach whose name will reverberate through the Falcon’s fandom. That person is “Iron” Mike Singletary. Perhaps, he is viewed as too inexperienced by some but frankly, in today’s NFL, the job of the head coach is more of a leader than an actual teacher/instructor. Moreover, he could offset his lack of experience by naming two well-respected coordinators to help him run the team (my choice for the offense would be Al Saunders who will most likely be available the minute Dan Snyder offers the job to another coach; my coach for the defense would be Rex Ryan, but the fact that he is interviewing for the head coaching position would seem to make this a difficult sell-job. In short, Mr. Singletary’s HoF playing career and his recent coaching experience, he would be well-served to be the FACE and leader of the Atlanta Falcons football team, with Mr. Blank as the face of the Atlanta Falcons organization. It appears that the falcons have now offered the job to Mike Smith from the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags have had a solid defense for several seasons so this appears to be a good hire. The question then becomes whether the Jags defense was good because of Mr. Smith or because Jack Del Rio is defensive-minded head coach. Only time will tell.

    Quarterback – They need one. Period. The question is whether they use the 3rd overall pick with the associated guaranteed dollars on position with such a high rate of failure (or at least of not living up to draft position status). Once they hire the Head Coach, I would immeaditely hire the Offensive Coordinator and stick him in a room with Thomas Dimitroff and not let them come out until they have decided whether or not to use the 3rd pick on a QB. Furthermore, I would caution them by saying that you had better get this pick right because the Falcons cannot afford another wasted pick which would further retard the evolution of the franchise. Regardless of whether they pick a QB at #3, if they manage to hire Al Saunders, the Falcons should immediately sign Todd Collins to be their QB for next year. Two reason: 1) even if you draft a QB at #3, he will most likely not be ready to play at the beginning of the season; and 2) even if he is, it would make sense to have Todd Collins act as a QB coach in waiting since he know the Al Saunders offense so well. By the way, neither Chris Redman nor Joey Harrington played terribly for the Falcons. They could compete for the starting job with Collins and then move into a back-up role once the QB of the future is identified. I would be tempted to take either Jake or Chirs Long or Glenn Dorsey in the first round and then look to grab Joe Flacco in the second round.

    Running Backs – Jerious Norwood and Warrick Dunn. Both good players. Mr. Norwood has to start because of his speed but only if he can perform as well as the most underrated Mr Dunn has (pass catching and blitz pick-up). Besides that, they need to have a big RB (a la Brandon Jacobs) to help soften the defense for the 2 scatbacks.

    Wide Receivers/Tight Ends – The falcons actually have a pair of good young receivers. Roddy White emerged as a #1 WR this year and in my opinion it’s no coincidence that this is the first year that he had a more traditional dropback passer than he did in the past . He is big fast and strong. If I were Mr Blank I would sign him to a contract extension to make sure I have a playmaker at the WR spot. Opposite Mr. White, I would start Laurent Robinson. His first year was ok but assuming he keeps developing he demonstrated the skills to be a good second WR. Michael Jenkins could serve as the 3rd WR or in the alternative, the Falcons should look for a good slot WR like Wes Welker who will allow Mssrs White and Robinson to work down the field. Alge Crumpler, for all of his complaining in the past year is still an above-average TE. With a new coach, Mr. Crumpler would most likely return to form and if not, TE’s are becoming more and more like RB’s (you can always find a serviceable one in the draft).

    Offensive Line – The biggest addition would have been the return of Alex Gibbs as OL coach. Unfortuanately, he signed with the Texans. Regardless, the Falcons need to improve their OL. The main target should be Alan Faneca. Why? Mostly because he can be had for money. It seems that Mr. Faneca is content with his super bowl ring and is now looking to cash in. That works in the Falcons favor because the only thing the Falcons can offer is more money. They can’t offer a chance at the playoffs , at least initially. I would offer him a GUARANTEED $14 million ($7mm/year seems to be the going rate for guards) over a 3 year contract (3rd year not guaranteed). This move would immediately improve the quality of the OL thus helping the running game as well as keeping the QB upright. I would then try to get a veteran tackle to help with the line. Although he is coming back from ankle surgery, Jon Jansen of Washington might be available for a low round pick (the Redskins need cap space and they might be willing to trade Jansen since they developed younger players this year (although not as good as Jansen).

    Defensive Line – Since Patrick Kerney left, the falcons defense has not been nearly as good as it used to be. John Abraham and Rod Coleman’s injuries hurt this year (as did the unceremonious dumping of Grady Jackson) but they need to get some help. Jamaal Anderson will be a good player but they need to improve the pass rush or run defense. In the event that the Falcon do not take a QB with the 3rd Pick I’d be VERY tempted to take Chris Long or Glenn Dorsey at #3. I’d prefer Long as I think he has a good upside and a limited bust potential. Either of the two players would improve the unit and perhaps allow Mssrs. Anderson and Abrahams to go after the QB.

    Linebackers – Keith Brooking is a leader and a fine player but he is in his 10th year. The rest of the LB’s are nothing special, although Michael Boley led the team in tackles and has good upside. Fortunately for the Falcons, LB’s like RB’s can be found all over the draft. How did D’Meco Ryans go in the 2nd round?! The Falcons need to look for that kind of value

    Secondary – the first thing Coach Singletary (or wwhomever the new coach is) should do is sit down with DeAngelo Hall to see whether he wants to be a part of the Falcons or not. He is a very talented player but his head (and mouth) often cuase him problems. Atlanta was ranked 22nd against the pass in 2007 and 26th against the run. Jimmy Williams is a hard-hitter in the secondary but his coverage skills are not up to par with his run-support skills. Chris Houston played well as a rookie and should improve in his second year. Improving the pass rush will help the secondary but there is little doubt that the Falcons need to improve the talent level in the secondary, especially from a coverage perspective.

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