The Atlanta Falcons announced via twitter that head coach Mike Smith was released from his contract. Reports earlier this morning indicated that the team has scheduled a press conference for 11 a.m. Eastern, in which most assume the team will announce Smith’s ouster.
Speculation and rumors have been rampant since October and November that Smith would find himself out of a job should the Falcons miss the playoffs. That is what indeed happened when the Falcons lost 34-3 to the Carolina Panthers in the season finale yesterday.
Smith spent seven years in Atlanta, leading the team to a 66-46 record with a 1-4 record in the postseason. Smith is the organization’s winningest head coach and the only one to lead the team to consecutive winning seasons in its 49-year history. In fact, Smith led the Falcons to five consecutive winning seasons from 2008 to 2012. He reached his biggest heights when the Falcons made it to the NFC Championship Game in 2012, which went down to the wire against the San Francisco 49ers. But since that game, the Falcons have yielded a 10-22 record and missed the playoffs both in 2013 and 2014.
Other reports this morning indicate that general manager Thomas Dimitroff is safe for now. NFL.com’s Albert Breer reports that Dimitroff will be retained, but that owner Arthur Blank will restructure the organization. The Falcons have already brought in former Cleveland Browns CEO Joe Banner to consult on the team’s new stadium project, although there’s been speculation that Banner’s role could expand given the looming changes to the organization.
Reports broke yesterday that Blank has already enlisted the help of firm Korn Ferry, to look for new head-coaching candidates. Korn Ferry has often aided NFL teams in search for head coaches as they specialize in identifying potential executives for large companies and corporations.