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Would Mike Smith have been fired if the Falcons had lost?


As the Falcons were in the process of blowing a 20-point lead against the Seahawks on Sunday, I wondered aloud on Twitter whether anyone, everyone, or no one would be fired if the Falcons lost.

In the end, the Falcons survived (in case you hadn’t heard).  But it remains tempting to wonder what the aftermath in Atlanta would have been if quarterback Matt Ryan hadn’t guided the team into field goal range with the same 31 seconds that were on the clock when the Broncos decided a day earlier to take a knee and go to overtime.

The Falcons, of course, had no choice; they were trailing.  And owner Arthur Blank may have felt like he had no choice but to make changes in the wake of five straight winning seasons but four playoff defeats punctuated by the worst fourth-quarter postseason collapse in NFL history.

Dan Patrick has mentioned during his daily radio/TV show that the buzz at the BCS national championship game among folks from Atlanta with the financial wherewithal to attend the game was that, if the Falcons were to lose, Blank would fire coach Mike Smith.

That would have been a bad move.  Despite the postseason struggles, the Falcons routinely are knocking on the door.  Sooner or later, they’ll kick it in.  Or come close to doing so.

The reality is that there’s only one team every year that wins the Super Bowl.  It’s much easier to become that team if a team is consistently in contention.  The Falcons are, and Smith is a big reason for that.

So apart from the fact that Ryan’s last-minute heroics saved the team’s season, the quarterback may have saved the owner from making what would have been a huge mistake.

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33 Responses to “Would Mike Smith have been fired if the Falcons had lost?”
  1. ialwayswantedtobeabanker says: Jan 16, 2013 9:04 AM

    Amazing how much sway Matt Bryant’s kick was, or Pete Carroll’s attempt to ice Bryant.

  2. cootschaos says: Jan 16, 2013 9:09 AM

    Correct. Sometimes, fans can be idiots.

    Give me a coach who is always going to put his team in position to win 10+ games. Atleast with Smith, I have hope every year. That’s more than Glanville, June Jones, Reeves, Mora Jr. and Patrino ever gave Atlanta.

  3. dasboat says: Jan 16, 2013 9:15 AM

    Mike Smith = Andy Reid

  4. speedback says: Jan 16, 2013 9:16 AM

    Eagles never kicked it in

  5. ajpnsf says: Jan 16, 2013 9:16 AM

    Remember when San Diego fired Marty Schottenheimer for basically the same reason. Yeah that really fixed things right up, huh?

  6. jgedgar70 says: Jan 16, 2013 9:17 AM

    It would have been silly for them to fire Smith. It’s better than having 4 playoff teams in 17 seasons, like the team 4 hours up I-85 North. This Panther fan would be happy to switch teams if Falcons fans don’t like theirs. But you can keep your weird-shaped kicker…

  7. commonsensedude says: Jan 16, 2013 9:22 AM

    The very notion of Mike Smith getting fired is absurd to me. This guy took over in the aftermath of Bobby Petrino’s cowardly exit and Mike Vick’s conviction and built the team into a perennial playoff team.

    Look at the other teams who have fired coaches for “not taking the team to the next level” despite making the playoffs every year – Tampa Bay (Dungy) and Minnesota (Green) come to mind. I’ll bet they would have preferred keeping their former coaches than the inconsistency they suffered after getting rid of them. Good coaches who can always have their teams in the playoffs are hard to find in the NFL.

  8. georgiavol91 says: Jan 16, 2013 9:26 AM

    This is a totally goofy post on a quiet NFL news day. Mike isn’t going anywhere. Look at the loser candidates that are available. Somebody please tell me who is better?

  9. lifelong says: Jan 16, 2013 9:34 AM

    Seems like all we heard this year about the Falcons is how they are not as good as their record or how they are “overrated.” If that is true, then maybe the head coach is an excellent coach if he can get his team to play above their heads and produce a record that most people think they are not worthy of.

  10. ijahru says: Jan 16, 2013 9:38 AM

    I wonder why Smith called timeout with 15 seconds left instead of letting the clock wind down to say 6 seconds so the FG would be the last play of the game. Why call TO early then take a chance on a FG and give Seattle two shots at the end zone?

  11. realfootballfan says: Jan 16, 2013 9:41 AM

    Yes, they would have had no choice.

  12. usher716 says: Jan 16, 2013 9:51 AM

    Just about every time I’ve ever seen a Mike Smith coached Falcons game, he has made bewildering decisions. How much of Atlanta’s turn around have to do with Smith? I would credit it to Dimitroff and Matt Ryan. Look at his time management, the forth down call against the Saints. Just look at the end of that game, he calls a time out way too early and sends the field goal team out, then after luckily making the kick due to Pete Carroll’s idiocy, they kick an onside kick. Were they TRYING to lose? I swear some of these coaches get paid to be morons.

  13. artvan15 says: Jan 16, 2013 9:56 AM

    He was fortunate to have won the game against Seattle. He will be fired after losing to the 49ers this week.

  14. edgarpoe3 says: Jan 16, 2013 10:01 AM

    Would Mike Smith have been fired if the Falcons had lost? What a stupid question. Marty Schottenheimer coached the Chargers to something like 15-1 season some years back. But they lost in the playoffs, and the Chargers decided they needed a better coach. Now, after the Chargers have won their third straight Super Bowl, it proved that the Chargers were right all along. Oh wait…….. :p

  15. skippynj says: Jan 16, 2013 10:12 AM

    Thank god they won because as long as Mike Smith is the coach, the falcons will only go so far. Like, to the game next week and then no further. Keep doing what you do Mike! The nfl needs mediocre, at best, coaches to host mediocre, at best, teams too.

  16. malab377 says: Jan 16, 2013 10:24 AM

    Calling that timeout with 13 sec left instead of waiting another 10 sec… giving the Seahawks a chance for the hail mary… yeah, great coach, do not fire this guy, I don’t want him coaching my team!

  17. elliottcovert says: Jan 16, 2013 10:26 AM

    The NFL is kind of strange in that a team’s “momentum” or the “direction they’re headed in” seems to often be more importiant than thier actual record. Mike Smith may have had four straight one-and-done seasons until last Sunday, but how many coaches actually make it to the postseason five times in a row? You don’t kill the goose that’s laying golden eggs just because it ain’t laying diamond-studded golden eggs quite yet.

    But as they say, the NFL stands for “Not For Long.” Really the only coach who I think has his job for as long as he wants to keep it is Bill Belichick. If they Giants don’t make the postseason next year, my guess is that even Coughlin will be back on the hot seat.

  18. codysteeler says: Jan 16, 2013 10:31 AM

    No team that makes the playoffs should fire their coach. Period.

  19. rayburns says: Jan 16, 2013 10:32 AM

    If John Fox keeps his job, there’s no way that you could fire Mike Smith.

  20. mlenenski says: Jan 16, 2013 10:39 AM

    Mike Smith’s primary role during the game is to know when to call time out, whether to punt or go for it on 4th down, whether to onside kick, and whether or not to throw the red flag when the guys upstairs tell him to.

    On these issues he probably gets a C- at best, probably a D at the end of the game vs. Seattle.

    Maybe he’ll do better this weekend, probably not.

  21. citizenstrange says: Jan 16, 2013 11:00 AM

    Even is the Falcons get blown out by the Niners on Sunday Smith should keep his job.

    It would be very hard to find a better coach to battle with Sean Payton and the Saints twice a year every year.

    If the Falcons miss the playoffs or go one and done three or five years in a row though you have to see if you can’t do better.

  22. JackAcid says: Jan 16, 2013 11:28 AM

    He would not have been fired, but if they lost, he would have been fired with no playoff win NEXT year.

  23. dallascowboysdishingthereal says: Jan 16, 2013 11:32 AM

    It seems hard to believe but when you consider all that was done after their playoff loss last season, Blank does seem on a mission.

  24. Mr. Wright 212 says: Jan 16, 2013 11:50 AM

    Remember Blank issued the ultimatum before the season. He would have been fired– to answer the actual question at hand– had they been one and done. Whether it would have been prudent is another story and is now moot.

  25. turfrage says: Jan 16, 2013 1:11 PM

    Smith’s weakness is the 2nd half. Few adjustments are made, play calling can be frustrating, and luck pulled them through several of those wins this year.

  26. nawlinssaints1956 says: Jan 16, 2013 1:20 PM

    I’m pretty sure if you were to take a poll of Saints fans, it would be a landslide in favor of Mike remaining as the Failcons HC for a long time…

  27. seacab1972 says: Jan 16, 2013 1:38 PM

    Yes. It would have been the biggest come from behind victory in the play-offs. Lucky for him his QB stepped it up with 30 sec.

  28. kksshopping says: Jan 16, 2013 3:56 PM

    Why is no one talking about the bonehead final timeout that Mike Smith called with 13 seconds to go, only to kick a FG? It was that timeout which actually gave the Hawks that chance to throw the hail mary or FG??

  29. paullyons20 says: Jan 16, 2013 4:18 PM

    The reason why is because they won. It doesn’t matter any more what he did at the end of the game. Yes it was a bad call but it didn’t change the fact that they won. If they lost yes, we would be talking about that timeout.

  30. phil063 says: Jan 16, 2013 4:48 PM

    The onside kick late in the game was not Mike’s call. Miscommunication by the kicker who also botched two punts in the game.

  31. dzor22 says: Jan 16, 2013 5:31 PM

    nawlinssaints1956 – A Saints fan talking trash about our coach…now in the NFC Championship game. So tell me how your team did this year; and what was up with your coach? Your O line coach just bolted too. Cap issues much? Yeah – you’re in a great position to take shots at Coach Smith.

  32. db105 says: Jan 16, 2013 7:52 PM

    Firing Smith would be a shortsighted decision. The Falcons are and have been a solid contender. Fire him and hire someone with inferior less credentials and risk being mediocre?

  33. dblr0910 says: Jan 17, 2013 4:04 AM

    The aptitude of the general public never ceases to amaze me. Anyone writing or commenting about football players or coaches should be required to pass a test demonstrating one ounce of knowledge about the sport. Mike had no choice but to call time out with 13 seconds left to assess field position and determine if the team needed to run one more play (pass to the sideline) to get in field goal range. At that point, every second may have been needed to be saved and you don’t have time to ponder your decision. As for the ensuing kick off, the book calls for a squib kick. Unfortunately, the kicker didn’t execute it as well as he could have and the Seahawks astutely put extra players up front to field the kick so as to have a shot at a Hail Mary.

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