The question wasn’t out of the reporter’s mouth before Falcons coach Mike Smith laughed. Yes, Smith has thought a lot about Atlanta’s fourth-and-short strategy going forward.
“We’re going to remain very aggressive,” Smith said Saturday at the Combine. “Unfortunately, it’s been well documented on fourth down we were not as efficient as we needed to be. In our first three years, we were. I still have a strong belief in short yardage that you should be able, statisically you should be able to convert. We didn’t.”
It’s a great answer. Teams should be able to pick up fourth-and-short. The Falcons weren’t good enough to pick up the key fourth downs last season because they weren’t good enough. They need to play better, but that doesn’t make the play calls wrong. Atlanta is supposed to be a team that wins the line of scrimmage and that simply didn’t happen enough last season.
“We do a critical analysis of everything we do,” Smith said. “Fourth-and-one was at the top of my list this year, I assure you.”