Is Falcons coach Mike Smith the Riverboat Gambler?

Falcons coach Mike Smith sporting the team's secondary "ATL" logo hat after Monday's practice. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/Dledbetter@ajc.com)

Falcons coach Mike Smith sporting the team's secondary "ATL" logo hat after Monday's practice. (D. Orlando Ledbetter/Dledbetter@ajc.com)

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons coach Mike Smith has not been shy about going

The Riverboat Gambler

The Riverboat Gambler

for it on fourth down over his three seasons as head coach.

Under Smith, the Falcons have converted 25 of 41 fourth-down attempts (61 percent), which is sixth in the NFL over that period.

This season, the Falcons have converted three of five fourth-down attempts, including two in a 19-play touchdown drive against the Saints.

Last season, the Falcons ranked fourth in the NFL in fourth-down efficiency, converting 16 of 23 attempts for a 69.6 percentage.

“Coach Smith has had a lot of confidence in the offense in going for it on fourth downs,” quarterback Matt Ryan said. “The biggest thing as a player, you want to make the most of it. It’s good that they are not hesitant to make those kind of calls.”

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126 comments Add your comment

B

September 30th, 2010
7:14 am

FrontRow

September 30th, 2010
7:16 am

Consistent 2/3rds? I would be curious to see how the numbers break down according to distance.

Paul Johnson probably knows. Further, match these numbers against the percentages of FGs 45 yards or more.

Any 4th down inside the 50 yard line should be decision time.

BKJ

September 30th, 2010
7:35 am

I like the aggressiveness. They should track how many of those failed attempts result in points for the other team, though.

Season Ticket Holder

September 30th, 2010
7:38 am

Going for it on 4th down was a must against the Saints to kept Drew Brees and his high power offense on the sideline. It is demoralized the Saints defense to have a team convert 2 fourth down plays on the same drive. I would not call this a riverboat gambler attitude, but more of a you can’t stop us attitude.

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tp

September 30th, 2010
7:52 am

I’d like to see the Falcons run the ball with Mughelli a few times a game, just to change the pace a little bit. Knowing that we’ll hand off to the lead blocker will give Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes a bit more to think about, especially if we send Turner/Snelling off to the right or left and fake the pitch to them. Willis is the best in the business right now running laterally and stopping the run from sideline to sideline; slowing him down even a half-step could buy us an extra yard or two when we need it.

Dumbo

September 30th, 2010
7:52 am

hike!!!

September 30th, 2010
8:09 am

I noticed that the Falcons ran the ball in the 1st half on almost every 1st down and two more times Matt changed the play to a run. To get to the Super Bowl the play calling has got to improve.
Anyone that taped the game, please check me on this but these were mostly gains of 1-2 yards.

FalconTransplant

September 30th, 2010
8:18 am

OK so i read an article this AM about the Media’s hype about the falcons and thier superbowl chances. Well it’s week 4 and we need to worry about a hungry 49’s team that hasn’t won.
But looking forward I DO see we have an easier schedule now compared to even the schedule outlook before week 1.
The toughest road team this year will be at Philly in a few weeks and I honestly believe our toughest home game will be on a thursday night in Nov against the Ravens. (close tie for second toughest would be the saints on MNF and GreenBay)

Depending on our win-loss record in these tougher game will determine if we’re SB bound.

Resign or Resign?

September 30th, 2010
8:20 am

Remember how everyone crucified CMS for NOT going for the fourth down play against the Steelers? I wonder what he would do in that situation again.

FrontRow

September 30th, 2010
8:21 am

They’re all tough games. I am comfortable with Mike Smith managing the team as such.

All home games are must-win 8-0 at home and 4-4 on the road might get you in the tournament. We still have 3 more to get on the road.

Thinkingwemissedone

September 30th, 2010
8:28 am

4th and 1 inside the 5 at Steelers…..FG. Big mistake for a ‘Gambler’

waynelaster

September 30th, 2010
9:01 am

Of course we need to play better. We only gained yards from the middle from the Shotgun formation. The Saints really clogged the middle. Overall the Falcons are a great team.

waynester

September 30th, 2010
9:04 am

Seems to me the decision to go for 3 on that 4th down in Pitt and the second-guessing that went on afterwards may have colored Smitty’s attitude toward going for it–the team wanted to go and I’m sure he was correct as far as the odds go, but in hindsight, maybe he felt that he had let the team down by not giving them another chance to get that TD despite the fact that the Steelers were playing the run pretty well. In his post game presser he was already thinking “what if” and perhaps that made him more likely to pull the trigger on the road…..

Authur Blank

September 30th, 2010
9:10 am

I’d rather lose a game gambling then playing for ties and such, it makes the other team respect what you do.

SeenThisB4

September 30th, 2010
9:11 am

Ya’ll got lucky and ya’ll know it! Plus the officials turned a blind eye to your teams holding and illegal tripping all day long.

The Saints are going to win the Division out right. That, as Polian would say, is fait accompli.

GEAUX SAINTS! OUR TIME!!

Grady Jackson . . . . *Barber Shop*

September 30th, 2010
9:12 am

`
Mike Smith learned to “go for it” on 4th down,
by watching Paul Johnson and Georgia Tech.

Resign or Resign?

September 30th, 2010
9:14 am

b4;

How do sour grapes taste?

Resign or Resign?

September 30th, 2010
9:17 am

The difference, of course, was that the Birds were (if I recall correctly) trailing the Steelers by 3; while they were leading the ‘aints. Kicking a FG would have given them only a 6 point lead vs. 3; kicking the FG in Pittsburg tied the game.

Resign or Resign?

September 30th, 2010
9:18 am

Make that sour grapes and crow!

SeenThisB4

September 30th, 2010
9:19 am

I guess we’ll just start calling him “Doc Holiday”

SeenThisB4

September 30th, 2010
9:22 am

Sour grapes don’t taste so good, my Saints may lose to Carolina this Sunday.

SeenThisB4

September 30th, 2010
9:30 am

Resign or wayneser: Why do you enjoy posting comments using my handle? Do you have some secret desire to be like me?

The good thing about last Sunday’s game is that it has given the falcant fan base a false sense of accomplishment and strength. You believe your lucky team is a player at the table, when in fact your team is just another mark. The 49ers will come into your house this week and sober you fools up.

I’ll take those grapes, and let them ferment for awhile, and have some wine soon enough.

GEAUX SAINTS! OUR TIME!!

Gunslinger

September 30th, 2010
9:31 am

I tell you right now Falcons beat the Steelers if not for a non call on holding on the winning TD

PMC

September 30th, 2010
9:32 am

No, He’s no Riverboat gambler. He’s much more calculated than that.

He plays the numbers.

PMC

September 30th, 2010
9:35 am

If you’re not gaining much yardage from a punt it’s pointless not to go for it with a good offense that you have confidence in.

Also, he hasn’t had the best most reliable kickers in the world.

I mean…Mason Crosby was there in the 6th round… ready to be taken… but hey… we’ll stick with Jason Elam and Matt Prater.

Mark

September 30th, 2010
9:35 am

I like the aggressive play-calling on 4th down in the Saints’ game. Wish they had gone for it on 4th down in the Steelers game when they had the ball on the 5-yard-line – might be 3-0 right now.

PMC

September 30th, 2010
9:36 am

When everything you do is crafted to being a physical grinding team… why not go for it on 4th down and short?

He’s got confidence in both his offense and defense. That’s good.

It’s not like he’s out there willy nilly being reckless like Brett Farve or Les Miles.

SeenThisB4

September 30th, 2010
9:36 am

I can’t stand losing to the Atlanta Falcons, a division rival, who actually is the better team.

B-Man

September 30th, 2010
9:37 am

Falcons may have beaten the Steelers legit if it werent for the new rule that the play is called dead when the helmet comes off. Roddy got that first down and we were driving, but since the play was called dead it was 4th down and we had to punt. Coulda woulda shoulda….only thing that matters is facts. Facts: We are 2 and 1 and our only loss came to what we now realize is the best defense in the league on their home turf. Those are facts.

SeenThisB4

September 30th, 2010
9:37 am

I better get another handle, this one is shot.

PMC

September 30th, 2010
9:38 am

I don’t second guess the decision in Pittsburgh at all. He knew the pts were important and they had been whipped on the LOS all day. He knows when he’s got it and when he doesn’t.

B-Man

September 30th, 2010
9:38 am

And one of our wins came against the defending SB Champs….ON THEIR HOME TURF….

and those are the FACTS!

Zippin' Along

September 30th, 2010
9:44 am

Remember that some 4th down gambles are 4th and 12 when you’re down 14 points and you have no choice. That hurts your percentage.

B-Man

September 30th, 2010
9:47 am

@ Zippin’ – Good point

Resign or Resign?

September 30th, 2010
9:49 am

Why would I want to steal your DA handle?

dean

September 30th, 2010
9:50 am

The ONE game I HAVE TO SEE. ATL-PHILLY (other than the 2 New Orleans games), and IT’S MY WIFE’S BIRTHDAY! And she doesn’t give a rats behind about football. And she wants to go look at birds and flowers or something similarly exciting.

Can someone be a “Dam-Baby-It’s-a-Customer-With-An-Emergency” for me?

Good grief.

papadawg

September 30th, 2010
9:52 am

I like the fact he’ll gamble on 4th down but the last try on Sunday should have been a punt. He gave the ball to the Saints close to the 40 instead of maybe inside the 20.

just asking

September 30th, 2010
9:58 am

wow what a concept going for it on 4th down, stole that one from GT..Can you Falcons come up with your own strategy besides mirroring GT, just asking

dean

September 30th, 2010
10:03 am

justasking…maybe it’s GT mirroring the Falcons.

SeenThisB4

September 30th, 2010
10:04 am

I am a gayfish

G

September 30th, 2010
10:09 am

B4….I know that you know the 49ers don’t stand a chance at the dome. I also recognize that the only reason they almost beat the Saints was because they were playing on the west coast. The time change rarely works out for the team that has to travel. We will have and easy next 2 weeks and then we have to stop giving up big plays on defense. If we can eliminate those couple of plays a game everyone will have a really hard time scoring on us.

GregKennesaw

September 30th, 2010
10:18 am

SeenThisB4,

27-24 LMAO! Geaux Falcons our time!

GregKennesaw

September 30th, 2010
10:20 am

Maybe after we beat them twice, B4 will crawl away

SeenHimHateB4

September 30th, 2010
10:20 am

SeenThisB4 is another one of the aint’s fans who think that there better than the falcons v=because the won the superbowl last year. Whatever you guys won but it was a miracle year for you guys you got all turnovers were you needed them but you really wasn’t a good compltete team. Now your in our boat from last year with injuries and a Sub-par defense that has been exsposed. This is the FALCONS YEAR…STOP HATING AND RISE UP!!!!!

Authur Blank

September 30th, 2010
10:22 am

point one- usinging somebodys screen name is the sign of a lame regardless if he’s a Saint’s fan or not

point two- (this goes to Seen this B4)we ran the ball hard at the Saints and understanding you fan-hood I know you won’t keep it real and acknowledge this, but the way that game went the Saints would have been lucky leaving with a win, just don’t tarnish victories with he say she say cause thats just like somebody using ya screen name.

SeenHimHateB4

September 30th, 2010
10:22 am

SeenThisB4 go back to you lil sorry cry babie AINT’S cause ya AINT going back to the Superbowl and you might not be in the PLAYOFF’S EITHER. CAROLINA WINS IN AN UPSET. RISE UP!!!!

SeenHimHateB4

September 30th, 2010
10:27 am

SeenThisB4 meet you arch rival SeenHimHateB4. Cause I’ve always only seen you hate now get up off the ATL FALCONS BLOGS or should I say RISE UP!!! NO AINT’S ALLOWED!!!

truth

September 30th, 2010
10:30 am

Welcome back Seen. Still aint got no pride. Laughable!! I use to have alittle respect for you but you are know looking just outright STUPID. What respect I had for your has long been gone. You are embarresment to yor team and I actually feel sad for you. Your like a nerd beging for attention.

truth

September 30th, 2010
10:33 am

That long drive converting TWO 4th downs not only stripped them of their PRIDE but their MANHOOD too. BWAA HA HA!!!! The aints………..ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE AND WE DIDN’T LET THEM GET AWAY WITH IT!!!