Falcons fire Mike Smith, search for new coach begins


The Falcons have made the decision to part ways with Mike Smith and released him from his contract as the head coach of the team on Monday. Falcons owner and chairman Arthur Blank, president Rich McKay and general manager Thomas Dimitroff held a press conference on Monday and Blank said this decision is not easy.

“Sometimes you have people you are close to personally that you care a lot about, that you go to war with, that you’re in the trenches with, that you care about their family, etc. and to make those tough decisions is very challenging, and that was certainly the case with Mike Smith,” Blank said.

Smith was hired by the Falcons in 2008 and in his first season he led the Falcons to an 11-5 record and to the wild card round of the playoffs. In 2010 he led the Falcons to a 13-3 record and to the divisional round of the playoffs. His best season was in 2012 when the Falcons went 13-3 once again and reached the NFC Championship. But after the loss to the 49ers, the Falcons went 4-12 in 2013 and finished this season with a 6-10 mark. So as much good as Smith has done with the organization, Blank felt it was time to go in a different direction.

“This is about championships, rings and not only hosting a Super Bowl,” Blank said. “That’s what I signed up for, and that’s what I committed to on behalf of our fans and all of our stakeholders and everybody connected to the organization either emotionally, directly or passionately, that’s my job.”

So with Smith gone, the first question is what is going to happen to the rest of the coaching staff? There is a chance offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan will be let go.

“We’ll go through the coaching process (and) we’ll see where that takes us,” Blank said. “I’ve said this to Thomas (Dimitroff) that every part of our football operations will be under scrutiny. This may stop, may be finished today. It may not be finished today. I don’t know where we’re going to end up with this.”

One of the other things that is in question is Dimitroff. He was hired as the Falcons GM in 2008 and has worked closely with Smith when it came to putting together the roster.

“We think we have some good football players on this team, Dimitroff said. “We also know that I have made mistakes, and I know that I am going to be scrutinized for it. I know that I have over the last months looked at every different aspect of our football operations as far as what needs to be adjusted as far as myself and my approach to things as well. I am responsible as much as Smitty is for this organization and the success of this organization and the downfall of this organization.”

So the search for a new head coach is on and the Falcons can go in many different directions. As of right now they have put in request to interview offensive and defensive coordinators of teams across the league. So far the Falcons are looking to interview Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase

The Falcons could also seek a former head coach that has had a history of winning such as Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy, John Gruden or Herm Edwards.

Then there are the wild cards which are coaches that will likely not get the call, but are not out of the question such as Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin, Stanford head coach David Shaw and the one name that has been buzzing when it comes to the best candidate for the job, former Jets head coach Rex Ryan.

But Blank made it clear what he is looking for in terms of the new head coach.

“I think the attributes for a head coach start with being a great leader, having a clear vision, being to articulate it, being able to motivate, and in every business, being able to hire the best people,” Blank stated.

The Falcons will look to have the new head coach in place in the next few weeks. From there, he can put his staff in place and get ready for the NFL Draft which will take place in April.


UPDATE: Falcons are scheduled to interview former New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan sometime next week. Ryan was reached out by the Falcons one day after letting Smith go from his contract. Many experts are saying that Ryan signing with the Falcons would be the most logical choice because he is know for having a great defensive mind and who has struggled to field a team that has a high-powered offense. The Falcons already have a quarterback in place with Matt Ryan, but the defense struggled as they were ranked last in total defense.

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