Atlanta Falcons: Smith could join Reeves with a victory

Falcons coach Mike Smith during the victory over Denver.

Falcons coach Mike Smith during the victory over Denver.

FLOWERY BRANCH — If the Falcons defeat the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, they’ll probably have to beg coach Mike Smith to take the game ball.

“He deserves something,” safety William Moore said. “I’m sure we’ll come up with something.”

The Falcons’ humble leader likes to deflect any attention away from the head coaching office. But with another win, he’ll tie Dan Reeves for the most victories in franchise history, with 49.

The 5-0 Falcons are prohibitive favorites to defeat the Oakland Raiders (1-3) at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome.

If they win, awarding Smith a game ball, in a traditional postgame ceremony, might not go over too well. Smith probably would try to give it back to the players, his assistant coaches, general manager Thomas Dimitroff or owner Arthur Blank.

“Knowing Smitty, he probably wouldn’t be too happy if we did that,” center Todd McClure said. “He’s going to try to downplay it as much as possible. But I think it shows what this organization has done over the last four or five years. From all the way at the top, they are trying to get a winning culture around here. They brought in the right guy for that.”

McClure is the only player on the roster who’s played for Reeves, who posted a 49-59-1 record and took the franchise to its only Super Bowl appearance, and Smith.

“Those two guys, to me, are really similar,” McClure said. “Coach Reeves was even-keeled. You got the same guy every week. You knew what you were going to get. It’s ironic that both of those guys have had the most success in this franchise with that approach.”

Since being named the Falcons’ head coach in 2008, Smith has climbed the franchise’s coaching chart quickly.

He opened with an 11-5 record in 2008 and followed that with 9-7, 13-3 and 10-6 records before this season. The Falcons won the NFC South title after the 2010 season and have been to the playoffs in three of the past four seasons.

Last season marked the Falcons’ first consecutive playoff appearances since they started playing in the NFL in 1966.

If Smith ties the victory mark, don’t expect a wild party. Maybe a few fireworks from the event-day staff and a note on the scoreboard.

“I’m concerned about Oakland this week,” Smith said when asked about any celebration plans. “Then, we’ll move on to the bye week and do our preparation for self-scouting and find out where we are at. We are going to have big challenge this week.”

It’s that doggedly methodical approach to football that has allowed Smith to turn the Falcons into winners.

Mike Nolan, Mike Smith and Dirk Koetter (Curtis Compton/CCompton@ajc.com)

Mike Nolan, Mike Smith and Dirk Koetter (Curtis Compton/CCompton@ajc.com)

“He stays grounded, and he has to keep us grounded,” Moore said. “We need to stay focused and worry about the next week.”

For Smith, football is simple.

He has the team rally around a few basic concepts that embody a team approach to winning.

Smith has helped change the fortunes of the Falcons by getting the players, some who are still with the team and others who have moved on, to buy into his five pillars of success.

In every team meeting after a game, on either Monday or Wednesday, he let’s them know how they did with penalties, turnover ratio, time of possession, opponents’ field-position start and the Falcons’ field-position start.

“You want to be the least-penalized team in the league or close to the top,” Smith said.

All of those stats involve the offense, defense and special-teams units performing at a high level.

“If you’re at the top of the league in those five things, you’re usually going to like where you’re at, believe it or not,” Smith said. “The offensive guys look at yards. The defensive guys look at yards given up. But if you look at those five things, it’s really important in terms of the success of a team.”

The Falcons currently lead the NFL in fewest penalties (16 for 127 yards) and are tied for first in turnover differential (plus 10). They are fourth in time-of-possession average (32:47).

Smith had never been a head coach at any level before being selected to lead the Falcons. After 16 years coaching in the college ranks, he cut his teeth in the NFL working with the Baltimore Ravens and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Smith, who switched offensive and defensive coordinators this offseason, believes in delegating and holding everyone accountable.

 Falcons head coach Mike Smith (left) and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan (right) will want to see better third down defense against the Dolphins after Cincinnati converted on 8 of 14 (54 percent) on Thursday.  Here they are keeping a close eye on the cornerbacks during drills in Flowery Branch on Saturday, July 28, 2012.      CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Falcons head coach Mike Smith (left) and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan (right) will want to see better third down defense against the Dolphins after Cincinnati converted on 8 of 14 (54 percent) on Thursday. Here they are keeping a close eye on the cornerbacks during drills in Flowery Branch on Saturday, July 28, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

“I don’t believe in micromanaging,” Smith said. “I believe you’ve got to have a macro view. When you are a position coach or a coordinator you’ve got to have a micro view. You’ve got to concern yourself with only one thing and not really worry about anything else. I’ve been very fortunate to have a great staff, guys around me that have been doing a great job of preparing their groups.”

After being hired as the head coach, Smith vowed that he never call a play on offense, defense or special teams on game day. He prefers to put his hands on things during meetings and practices during the week.

“I’ve been pretty good at it,” Smith said. “I can’t say that I’ve not done it, but not very often. I’m not smart enough to call a defensive game and be the head coach.”

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94 comments Add your comment

SeenThisB4

October 13th, 2012
12:40 pm

lowdownjj

October 13th, 2012
12:44 pm

Could not be happier with Smitty. Had no idea who he was when Mr Blank hired him but what a GREAT hire it was. Teams often take on the personality of their head coach. Smitty is humble, hard-working and steady during the work week but don’t let that fool ya cause he is a fire breathing competitor on Sundays. Smitty treats his players like grown men, giving them the the freedom and space neccesary to make plays and take care of their business without big brother constantly looking over their sholders. And his players, in return, would run through walls for this man. Smitty is, without doubt, the very best coach my Falcons have ever had. Here’s to many more years to come…RISE UP!

prepdaa

October 13th, 2012
1:22 pm

Mike Smith wasn’t the falcon’s first choice but he damn well was the right choice. Go Falcons to hell with seen this trick before and them 1-4 aint’s.

FALX UP!

October 13th, 2012
1:29 pm

They need to throw a parade for this guy!

Kane337

October 13th, 2012
1:35 pm

Love coach Smith and the job he has done with the Falcons. I hope he accepts the game ball when we beat the Raaay-Dah’s. Hard to believe that in less that 4 in a half years he will have tied with the most wins in Falcons history. Then again Falcons history has been really bad. Cheers Coach Smith

Kane337

October 13th, 2012
1:37 pm

Hey you got your August preseason notes below the picture of Smitty and Nolan.

Mike Franklin

October 13th, 2012
1:53 pm

Dan Reeves was the only coach to take this team to the SB.

I think Smitty is on the right road to tie that one as well.

The Real Falcon

October 13th, 2012
1:54 pm

SeenThisB4

Go Raiders!

Guess you would say that since the A’ints are so horrible. Do they still play football in LA?
Will be at the game cheering my team to victory!

DavidGilmour

October 13th, 2012
2:51 pm

…..Bowing before Coach Smith…..

Thank you for your expertise, passion and steadiness.

Yes Mike, I agree….. Saints fans ARE Turds

DawgNole

October 13th, 2012
2:59 pm

It’s a worthy accomplishment, but until/unless his team experiences some measure of postseason success, it will always ring hollow.

Whadda Ya Know?

October 13th, 2012
3:02 pm

Seen go back to your swamp shack in nawlins and don’t come out until we’re playing in the superbowl at that toilet bowl of a dome.

Falcons Rule.

October 13th, 2012
3:22 pm

Angry birds will destroy the raidazz 49-3….undefeated season baby. You clownazz doubters need to stay away…..NO BANDWAGON HOPPERS need apply. Falcons will sweep the AINTS and the Ice man will win the MVP. BOOK IT.

Michael M.

October 13th, 2012
3:24 pm

That first comment was cute……………………..lets be realistic here………..this is a trap game for sure…………….a trap set by Atlanta once the whistle blows………………..hehehehe

Atlanta – 45 Raiders – 17

Esquire

October 13th, 2012
4:05 pm

Drive by trolling……………..!!

Esquire

October 13th, 2012
4:06 pm

Falcons Rule.
October 13th, 2012
3:22 pm

Angry birds will destroy the raidazz 49-3….undefeated season baby. You clownazz doubters need to stay away…..NO BANDWAGON HOPPERS need apply. Falcons will sweep the AINTS and the Ice man will win the MVP. BOOK IT.
*****************************************************

It’s a large bandwagon, everyone’s welcome!

[...] to Original Content From Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog): read more Related Articles Share About Author [...]

Just Sayin.....

October 13th, 2012
4:19 pm

1,000 regular season wins don’t mean much if you fail to win a single playoff game.

Just sayin…..

Falcon James

October 13th, 2012
4:23 pm

Smitty has given the Fan and the City something to be proud of. Glad he does what he do. He know how to bring out the best in the team. Nothing I would like more that to see him take this team all the way.

STB4 has finally gotten behind a team worth cheering for. The Raider will lose tomorrow, but at least they a better team than the Saint will ever be.

Esquire

October 13th, 2012
4:32 pm

5-6-7-8
Everywhere we goooO,
Everywhere we goooO,
People wanna knooOw,
People wanna knooOw,
Who we aaa are,
Who we aaa are,
So we tell theem, So we tell theem,
We are the FALCONS!! We are the FALCONS!!
MIGHTY MIGHTY FALCONS, MIGHTY MIGHTY FALCONS !!
OHH AHH OHH YEEAHH

Esquire

October 13th, 2012
4:45 pm

Just Sayin…..
October 13th, 2012
4:19 pm

If the past doesn’t matter, there would not be a use for the Hall of Fame, which is based on past performance.
***************************************************
Let me answer that like this. Any Hall of Fame (not limited to sports) is a further promotion of the entertainment product that is represented. You will find archival libraries, educational information, resource centers, memorabilia of significant and/or historical moments. Also established for any field of endeavor to honor individuals of noteworthy achievement. The NASCAR Hall of Fame just opened an exhibit entitled “Wrecks! Dramatic Crashes of NASCAR honoring the significant failures in that sport. For crying out loud, there are Quilting Halls of Fame…..!!! It’s not where have you been, it’s where you are right this very moment and where you are going.

Right now, we are 5-0. Where are we going? 6-0 Baby!!!!

Just sayin.

Esquire

October 13th, 2012
4:48 pm

Falcon James
October 13th, 2012
4:23 pm

STB4 has finally gotten behind a team worth cheering for. The Raider will lose tomorrow, but at least they a better team than the Saint will ever be.

***********************************************************

Falcon James has been awarded the “POST OF THE DAY” Award……!! Congratulations!!

Just Sayin.....

October 13th, 2012
4:50 pm

@Esquire

That thing you call a song is lame.

Just sayin…..

Just Sayin.....

October 13th, 2012
4:52 pm

72-23

Just sayin…..

[...] cut his teeth in the NFL working with the Baltimore Ravens and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution   [...]

dean

October 13th, 2012
5:33 pm

Do pro team cheerleaders actually do cheers?

Just wondering…

Seen This B4

October 13th, 2012
5:46 pm

“Whadda Ya Know?” is the typical falcan’t blogger, commanding a diminutive mental capacity with a propensity to launch into obscenities and name calling toward opposing teams, cities and fans. Weak. Imagine what he would post if it were not for the AJC.com’s filters.

@falcan’t james: My team is the New Orleans Saints, but you very well know that. But I also cheer for whichever team is playing the falcan’ts; I’d cheer for Al Qaeda if they were playing the falcan’ts.

Esquire

October 13th, 2012
5:52 pm

Just Sayin…..
October 13th, 2012
4:50 pm

@Esquire

That thing you call a song is lame.

Just sayin…..

*********************************************
http://tinyurl.com/8h7y695

Esquire

October 13th, 2012
6:16 pm

Seen This B4
October 13th, 2012
5:46 pm

My team is the New Orleans Saints, but you very well know that.

*******************************************
You don’t have to embarrass yourself like that.

Esquire

October 13th, 2012
6:21 pm

Anyone who would cheer for Al Qaeda should be investigated…………that’s not about disliking our team, this dude supports murder of American’s, an un-American SOB. A new low for even you piss-ant.

phil

October 13th, 2012
7:08 pm

Ultimately, Smith will fail us…..they always do.

Fire Smith now!!

falCANS

October 13th, 2012
7:09 pm

No contest..falcons 100 Raiders 0….Aints 1-5

Falcon James

October 13th, 2012
7:24 pm

STD-B4- Everybody know you be having more crabs than a $2.00 hooker

ConnecticutFalconFanSince'91

October 13th, 2012
7:36 pm

And to think i heard rumblings about getting rid of Smitty….yea bring back June Jones lol! Stability is the name of the game! Go Birds 6-0! Let’s get it!

bigbobbles

October 13th, 2012
7:39 pm

first we have just sayin, (choke in drag) and then the comment from seen this before, chokes baby brother……Get lost or bring some real game!

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution Go to Source Category: Football News. Top Rated [...]

Manny

October 13th, 2012
8:06 pm

Good for Coach Smith, but I can personally care less without a playoff win. That’s all I care about right now. And from what I’m hearing from Coach Smith, that’s the least thing that will make this season acceptable.

You gotta win one if the playoffs. Everything else is window dressing.

Falcons Rule.

October 13th, 2012
8:18 pm

GET THE F out Just Sayin’. We don’t need pessimistic doubters like you. That’s the problem with the Falcon base…..Never damned satisfied. Falcons will destroy the raidazz…You doubters will only believe WHEN the Ice Man is hoisting that Lombardi and Superbowl MVP in the superdome. Esquire…you sound like you have a large prolapsed hemorrhoid.

DawgNole

October 13th, 2012
8:22 pm

Manny
October 13th, 2012
8:06 pm

Good for Coach Smith, but I can personally care less without a playoff win. That’s all I care about right now. And from what I’m hearing from Coach Smith, that’s the least thing that will make this season acceptable.
You gotta win one if the playoffs. Everything else is window dressing.
_______________________

Co-sign!

DawgNole

October 13th, 2012
8:25 pm

Falcons Rule.
October 13th, 2012
8:18 pm

GET THE F out Just Sayin’. We don’t need pessimistic doubters like you. That’s the problem with the Falcon base…..Never damned satisfied.
____________________

46 years–their entire existence–w/o a championship. What are we supposed to be “damned satisfied” about?

[...] The rest of the article can be found here: Atlanta Falcons [...]

Falcons Rule.

October 13th, 2012
8:55 pm

DawgNole….you go on with your loser attitude….THIS IS A NEW ERA. YOU GOTTA BELIEVE TO ACHIEVE. You keep doubting and stay away….I’ll be in section 117 cheering the birds on. RISE UP!!!

DawgNole

October 13th, 2012
9:40 pm

Falcons Rule.
October 13th, 2012
8:55 pm

DawgNole….you go on with your loser attitude….THIS IS A NEW ERA. YOU GOTTA BELIEVE TO ACHIEVE. You keep doubting and stay away….I’ll be in section 117 cheering the birds on. RISE UP!!!
_____________________

No loser attitude here, Mr. Light in the Loafers. I want to win as bad as anyone, but it hasn’t happened in 46 years, so I’m reserving my enthusiasm until I see some PLAYOFF RESULTS. You keep cheering on them birds, though, and so will I.

FalconUGAFan

October 13th, 2012
10:20 pm

“I’d cheer for Al Qaeda if they were playing the falcan’ts.”

That statement just affirms what kind of person you are.

Falcons Rule.

October 13th, 2012
11:21 pm

DawgNole
October 13th, 2012
9:40 pm

so I’m reserving my enthusiasm until I see some PLAYOFF RESULTS

Like I said….you go on with your loser attitude. I’d rather be “light in the loafers” than live life looking at the glass half full. I bet you are great company……….NOT.

DawgNole

October 13th, 2012
11:25 pm

Falcons Rule.
October 13th, 2012
11:21 pm

DawgNole
October 13th, 2012
9:40 pm

so I’m reserving my enthusiasm until I see some PLAYOFF RESULTS

Like I said….you go on with your loser attitude. I’d rather be “light in the loafers” than live life looking at the glass half full. I bet you are great company……….NOT.
___________________

And you go on with your delusional attitude. By the way, how has that worked out for you and the Falcons these past 46 years, dope?

Tommie H.

October 13th, 2012
11:55 pm

I’m with you Falcons Rule. People like DawgNole are the ones who come to game late and leave early just waiting for the Falcons to fail. That is if he comes to the game. What a way to go on life. Go Falcons.

DawgNole

October 14th, 2012
12:02 am

Tommie H.
October 13th, 2012
11:55 pm

I’m with you Falcons Rule. People like DawgNole are the ones who come to game late and leave early just waiting for the Falcons to fail. That is if he comes to the game. What a way to go on life. Go Falcons.
___________________

Haven’t had to wait long.

How long have you waited for a championship?

FalconJim

October 14th, 2012
12:15 am

Loved Coach Reeves, and the same goes for Smitty!!! We’re damned lucky to have had both, especially Coach Smith. I think Smitty will surpass Reeves in the win column, eventually, and well deserved I might add.

And, STB4 — please, go crawl back under you rock!!!

backatcha

October 14th, 2012
12:27 am

Congrats to Coach Smith and the entire Falcons organization,

For years I’ve watched the Falcons during those prosper (very few) and lean (tremendous amount) years! We have to be appreciative for the culture that has been established. We’ve always had one or two gamechangers on the roster at all times but these guys are playing as a single entity and cutting back on the premature celebrating! I still remember our guys pouring gatorade on the coach after a monster 13-3 season then they couldn’t even look at each other as they were being decimated by the Pack! I want to see our boys bring the trophy home, and this is reminiscent to the run the Braves put together in the early 90’s right before we beat the Indians in game 6, (I still remember screaming my head off when Marques Grissome caught that fly ball for the last out!) Anyways, congrats to the staff for what they have put together and are putting together! We are no longer the laughingstock of the league!!! God Bless! Also, SeenThisB4, I understand your frustration, but you must say that you’re enjoying this season (I know that I am!) The Raiders will play us hard. We must get an early lead and establish the tempo and make them one dimensional. I believe we’ll win, but it won’t be as easy as the experts are anticipating! Everyone thought that Carolina would be a walk in the park and we almost lost!!! Go Falcons!

FalconJim

October 14th, 2012
12:29 am

Did I mention that I bring Mr. Dimitroff and Coach Smith their morning paper every day. Lucky me. Anyone wanting to come watch the game with me tomorrow? I could use the company. Oh and I make the best pink lemonade in town!