Mike Smith’s Atlanta Falcons in Statistics

A Look at the Falcons in Mike Smith’s Six Seasons

Smith in Stats (AJC)

Mark Twain famously penned that there are “lies, damned lies, and statistics.” While it’s easy to get to a point of paralysis by analysis, statistics can point to trends, prove or disprove commonly held beliefs, and open eyes in some cases. Mike Smith has been the man in charge of the Atlanta Falcons on the field play for 6 seasons. Many believe it takes at least three years to get good data, so the Falcons six years under Smith can definitely provide some interesting feedback. A look at the Falcons the past six seasons:

Mike Smith’s Regular Season Record

96 Total Games = 60 wins, 36 losses (62.5%)

Playoff Record: 5 games = 1 win, 4 losses (20%)

Record vs. NFC South – 18 wins, 18 losses (50%)

Analysis - This one’s really no secret and is commonly known. Smith has done a very good job in the regular season, compiling one of the best records of any NFL team over the last 6 years (obviously excluding the 2013 nightmare). And then it’s the polar opposite when it comes to the playoffs. His record is abysmal when it’s time for the postseason, as Falcons fans know painfully well. 3 of the 5 games played were close (squeaking by Seahawks; close losses to Cardinals and 49ers). The other two were downright embarrassments (Debacle in the Dome to the Packers; Meltdown in Meadowlands to Giants). Obviously, the first is the reason Smith earned another year after the 2013 trainwreck and the latter was the reason many fans were ready for a change.

Falcons Sole Pass Rush for 5 years (AJC)

Those were already pretty well known. An eye opener, however, is looking at the division record against the NFC South. The biggest part of the loss equation with the NFC South is his terrible record against the Falcons biggest rival. He’s 3 – 9 vs. the Saints overall, but he’s 2-8 vs. Sean Payton. A record like that for many college and NFL coaches alone would call job security into question. A 50% win percentage isn’t necessarily terrible by itself. The problem, though, is how poor the other two teams have been overall. The Bucs have been through 3 different head coaches and just hired their 4th and compiled an overall record of 37-59 in those six years. Carolina won the NFC South in 2008 and 2013, but were mired in many sub .500 seasons in between. They’ve put together an overall record of 47-49. When put in that context, that’s not very good.

Atlanta Falcons Offense (2008 – 2013) – Rank among 32 NFL Teams

Total Offense – Yards Per Game

2008 – 6th; 2009 – 16th; 2010 – 16th; 2011 – 10th; 2012 – 8th; 2013 – 14th

Average – 12th

Passing Yards Per Game

2008 – 14th; 2009 – 14th; 2010 – 15th; 2011 – 8th; 2012 – 6th; 2013 – 8th

Average – 11th

Rushing Yards Per Game

2008 – 2nd; 2009 – 15th; 2010 – 12th; 2011 – 17th; 2012 – 29th; 2013 – 32nd

Average – 18th

Points Per Game

2008 – 10th; 2009 – 13th; 2010 – 5th; 2011 – 7th; 2012 – 7th; 2013 – 20th

Average – 10th

Sacks Given Up

2008 – 5th; 2009 – 8th; 2010 – 3rd; 2011 – 6th; 2012 – 7th; 2013 – 20th

Average – 8th

Analysis - Nothing outrageous here, other than the rushing yards per game. It started all the way at the top and finished last year all the way to the bottom. Interestingly, even when the Falcons finished 13-3 and secured the NFC #1 seed, they earned a ranking only 3 spots from last place. The easy description for the 2013 woes was to spotlight the poor rushing total. They were only a handful of spots different, but one team became the best in the NFC and the other became one of the worst in the NFL. A poor rushing total definitely contributed to a boatsink 2013, but it wasn’t the only reason. The rushing has been on a gradual decline since Smith’s first year, and bottomed out last season.

Smith Should Thank Ryan (AJC)

Generally, the Falcons have done a pretty good job on offense under Smith. The only interesting part is that Smith was big on running the ball and stopping the run early on, but the obvious strength of the Falcons has been their passing game. It has been one of the only areas the Falcons have consistently performed well in the last three years at any position on either side of the ball. Sacks given up is pretty stunning. They generally ranked not nearly as bad as fans would think. However, much of that number not being higher has to be Matt Ryan’s ability of getting rid of the ball.

Atlanta Falcons Defense (2008 – 2013)

Total Defense – Yards Per Game

2008 – 24th; 2009 – 21st; 2010 – 16th; 2011 – 12th; 2012 – 24th; 2013 – 27th

Average – 21st

Pass Defense

2008 – 21st; 2009 – 28th; 2010 – 22nd; 2011 – 20th; 2012 – 23rd; 2013 – 21st

Average – 23rd

Rush Defense

2008 – 25th; 2009 – 10th; 2010 – 10th; 2011 – 6th; 2012 – 21st; 2013 – 31st

Average – 17th

Points Per Game

2008 – 22nd; 2009 – 14th; 2010 – 5th; 2011 – 18th; 2012 – 5th; 2013 – 27th

Average – 15th

Sacks

2008 – 11th; 2009 – 26th; 2010 – 28th; 2011 – 19th; 2012 – 28th; 2013 – 29th

Average – 24th

Forced Fumbles

2008 – 29th; 2009 – 5th; 2010 – 16th; 2011 – 16th; 2012 – 13th; 2013 – 14th

Average – 16th

Interceptions

2008 – 19th; 2009 – 16th; 2010 – 4th; 2011 – 10th; 2012 – 5th; 2013 – 29th

Average – 15th

Passes Defensed

2008 – 19th; 2009 – 26th; 2010 – 4th; 2011 – 9th; 2012 – 6th; 2013 – 31st

Average – 16th

3rd Down Stops

2008 – 13th; 2009 – 32nd; 2010 – 22nd; 2011 – 29th; 2012 – 25th; 2013 – 32nd

Average – 26th

Analysis – Average. Mediocre. Below Average. Underachievement. These are the most descriptive terms for this Atlanta Falcons defense under Mike Smith. The offense has had it’s moments of ineptness, to be sure, but generally that’s the reason for the Falcons major success the past six seasons. The defense has rarely pulled their collective weight and have never been anything more than mediocre. The defense has made a change with almost every position coach possible, and that includes two different coordinators. Generally, they can’t stop the run, despite Smith’s “belief” about doing as such. They can’t defend the pass and they can’t pressure the quarterback. And although they’ve had a few bright spots here and there with creating turnovers, they aren’t a dynamic defense either. The only thing they can hang their hat on is keeping teams out of the end zone and holding them to field goals. Not exactly a defense you think of winning the Lombardi Trophy.

The Days of Running the Ball Well (AJC)

Fans have waited and waited for this defense to do something, anything in fact, to make a move up the charts and turn into some type of identity and the only identity they consistently cling to is that they’re a hugely disappointing and underachieving team. They are some of the worst in the NFL at missing tackles, a theme that continues every year with little improvement. The same goes for getting off the field on 3rd down, specifically 3rd and long. Not surprisingly, they rank in the cellar for 3rd down stops, gracing the very bottom of the drain in 2013. The front office can scapegoat as many defensive assistants they want, but the abject failure rest on one person, and that is the defensive minded head coach. He got the job because of his success as a defensive coordinator in Jacksonville. His defenses are some of the most average and underachieving in the entire NFL. They have added free agents, top draft picks, and nothing has made a dent. If a head coach’s specialty and the reason he got the job is an epic failure, what else can be a better benchmark?

Pro Football Focus Rankings (subscription required)

Overall Offense

2008 – 6th; 2009 – 12th; 2010 – 3rd; 2011 – 8th; 2012 – 5th; 2013 – 24th

Average – 10th

Passing Offense

2008 – 5th; 2009 – 13th; 2010 – 3rd; 2011 – 8th; 2012 – 1st; 2013 – 15th

Average – 8th

Rushing Offense

2008 – 8th; 2009 – 12th; 2010 – 29th; 2011 – 15th; 2012 – 26th; 2013 – 19th

Average – 18th

Pass Blocking

2008 – 16th; 2009 – 9th; 2010 – 9th; 2011 – 9th; 2012 – 13th; 2013 – 30th

Average – 14th

Run Blocking

2008 – 9th; 2009 – 10th; 2010 – 9th; 2011 – 17th; 2012 – 26th; 2013 – 32nd

Average – 16th

Spoon's on the Clock (AJC)

Analysis – Pro Football Focus uses a lot more metrics involved than standard NFL statistical rankings, but they’re much more generous to this Falcons offensive line than meets the eye. They have the OL ranking more in the middle of the pack on average of the past 6 seasons, but that seems a little generous.

Overall Defense

2008 – 12th; 2009 – 13th; 2010 – 21st; 2011 – 11th; 2012 – 20th; 2013 – 26th

Average – 17th

Run Defense

2008 – 22nd; 2009 – 15th; 2010 – 26th; 2011 – 15th; 2012 – 27th; 2013 – 25th

Average – 22nd

Pass Rush

2008 – 6th; 2009 – 8th; 2010 – 18th; 2011 – 5th; 2012 – 18th; 2013 – 32nd

Average – 15th

Pass Coverage

2008 – 14th; 2009 – 24th; 2010 – 10th; 2011 – 17th; 2012 – 19th; 2013 – 26th

Average – 18th

Passing a Consistent Strength (AJC)

Analysis – While they’re really generous on the pass rush (they must see something we don’t), they’re more critical on run defense. The common theme of being very average, below average, and having major underachievement is proven here once again. They rank right in the middle or well below the middle in every category, and that’s about right for this helpless defense at times.

Penalties / Special Teams

Offense Penalties

2008 – 17th; 2009 – 21st; 2010 – 2nd; 2011 – 2nd; 2012 – 10th; 2013 – 20th

Average – 10th

Defense Penalties

2008 – 1st; 2009 – 7th; 2010 – 11th; 2011 – 12th; 2012 – 1st; 2013 – 12th

Average – 7th

Special Teams

2008 – 4th; 2009 – 1st; 2010 – 2nd; 2011 – 14th; 2012 – 4th; 2013 – 10th

Average – 6th

No Caption Needed on Konz (AJC)

Analysis – Credit is due where it’s deserved and they’ve been one of the best, mostly, in the NFL in terms of not hurting themselves and special teams. That was one of Smith’s cornerstone beliefs in being successful and he’s generally followed through in that area. Smith and special teams coach Keith Armstrong also should get some praise in having one of the best and most consistent special teams units in the NFL over the last 6 seasons. Most fans want to see some more dynamic playmaking in that part of the team, but in terms of execution and efficiency, they’re one of the best.

In-Depth Record Breakdown

Record vs. Teams that Made Playoffs at End of Year

13 wins – 29 losses; (31% winning percentage)

Record vs. Teams with 8 Wins or Less

46 wins – 13 losses; (78% win percentage)

Record vs. 9 Win Teams

5 wins – 2 losses; (71% win percentage)

Record vs. 10 Win Teams

5 wins – 4 losses; (56% win percentage)

Record vs. 11 Win Teams

1 win – 5 losses; (17% win percentage)

Record vs. 12 Win Teams

2 wins – 6 losses; (25% win percentage)

Record vs. 13 Win Teams

1 win – 6 losses; (14% win percentage)

(Hasn’t played a 14 win team)

Record vs. 15 Win Teams

0 win – 1 loss (0% win percentage)

Total Record Analysis

Percent of Total by Wins Over Teams with 8 Wins or Less

46 Wins / 60 Wins = 77%

Percent of Total by Wins Over Teams with 9 Wins or Less

51 Wins / 60 Wins = 85%

Percent of Total by Wins Over Teams with 10 Wins or Less

56 Wins / 60 Wins = 93%

Number of Wins Over Teams with 11 Wins or More

4 Total Wins = 2008 Carolina Panthers; 2010 New Orleans Saints; 2010 Baltimore Ravens; 2012 Denver Broncos

Trufant a Bright Spot (AJC)

Analysis - Some will see this as making the data fit a pre-ordained narrative. That may have some truth to it, but even when the Falcons were winning big in 2010 and 2012, the national media’s criticism was that the Falcons were devouring on weak opponents while always coming up short against tougher opponents. While you can’t control your opponents or schedule, going 14 – 24 (36%) vs. teams with a winning record and the winning percentage drops off a cliff the tougher teams that you play, is abysmal. The fact that 78% of Mike Smith’s wins have come vs. teams with a .500 0r losing record and 85% of Mike Smith’s wins have come against teams with 9 wins or less proves absolutely that the Falcons eat up the weaker teams and struggle mightily when faced with stiffer competition. He’s 9 – 22 (29%) vs. teams with 10 wins or more and that’s just unacceptable for an organization that claims they want to win titles (plural), which also goes right in line with Smith’s terrible post-season record (1 win – 4 losses) and lack of success vs. playoff teams, 13 – 29 (31%).

3rd Quarter Struggles

Total Score by 3rd Quarter

Falcons – 394 vs. Opponents – 522

Total 3rd Quarter Score in Playoffs

Falcons – 7 vs. Opponents – 52

Amount of Times Falcons have Scored Zero Points in 3rd Quarter

42 Times / 96 Games = 44%

Amount of Times Falcons have Scored 3 Points in 3rd Quarter

18 Times / 96 Games = 19%

Amount of Times Falcons have Scored 3 Points or Less in 3rd Quarter

60 Times / 96 Games = 63%

Matt Ryan 4th Quarter Comebacks – 17

Matt Ryan Game-Winning Drives – 24

Analysis – One of the biggest complaints by fans has been the awfulness that is the Falcons after halftime. Do the Falcons actually fall apart in the 3rd quarter or is it a myth? This data clearly shows it’s a pitiful reality. While being outscored by 128 points over 6 seasons isn’t that big of a deal, that trend leads to an absolute disaster in the playoffs. The fact that the Falcons have been outscored in the playoffs by a margin of 7 to 52 in their five playoff games is just outrageous. Ironically, the only time they scored anything in the 3rd quarter (7 points vs. Seattle), they won.

Can Worrilow Finally Move this D? (AJC)

42 times the Falcons have scored zero points is almost half of all games in 6 seasons. If you bring in the total amount of times the Falcons have scored a field goal or less, it jumps to 63%. Do teams that win Super Bowls get destroyed after halftime like that? People can claim all they want about how little an impact that halftime adjustments have on the game, but the Falcons opponents are making use of it and the Falcons clearly are not. Finally, many believe that if not for Matt Ryan saving the day, that Smith wouldn’t have near the record he does. 24 times out of 60 wins (40%), Ryan has led the team on a game winning drive. While it’s obviously a team game and all get credit for comeback wins, fans that think that Ryan saves Smith’s bacon a lot are at least partially justified.

Are the Atlanta Falcons really only a few tweaks away from winning the Super Bowl?…..You be the judge.

(***Note — lots of numbers, data, and calculations, so please feel free to let me know of any errors***).

560 comments Add your comment

SG

January 19th, 2014
1:42 pm

Screen Pass

January 19th, 2014
1:47 pm

Brought over from last blog;

“SP

Give me a few and I will be right back with a proper, fitting reply to your question. Want to research one key point.” – SW

No worries, take your time. I don’t need anything epic :) , just a little concerned that by the time the draft rolls around some people will be claiming our O-line was full of All- Pros. I know you will tell it like it is, good or bad. Anyone else want to chime in go ahead…I am already tired of seeing mocks that have completely blown off fixing the O-line.

SG

January 19th, 2014
1:49 pm

From Previous discussion:

SW – I believe Nolan got the extension just to ensure he didn’t jump at any other DC opportunity that opened up. That would be bad news in the further development of the young turks he did a decent job of bringing together this year plus it allows him to contribute to evaluating this draft class.

Regarding your 11:27. I agree. What the Birds are missing is we don’t expect a Lombardi every year but it would e nice to have a solid vision / plan in place that didn’t apear to be conceived by the Marx Brothers. To expand on your Vandy video, I don’t know if you saw this “Power of the Program” read

http://espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs/2013/story/_/id/10312270/afc-championship-participants-new-england-patriots-denver-broncos-display-ability-rise-injuries-adversity

48 year Falcon fan with 0 Super Bowl wins !

January 19th, 2014
1:50 pm

In the 6 years Mike Smith has been head coach, his players have always played hard for him. He handles himself very professionally, is very well respected and is by far the best coach Atlanta has ever had. I hope he stays Atlanta’s coach for many more years. The best teams keep their head coach for a long time and do not switch out when things go wrong.

The problem with the Falcons is that they are cannot draft to a Super Bowl level. Compare Atlanta to Baltimore, Seattle, New England, etc. These teams sometimes miss on their draft picks but their overall hit rate is better. Atlanta is more than a few tweets away. They have more holes to fill than Swiss cheese and unless they consistently draft better, we will not be a consistently elite team with multiple Super Bowl wins.

Seminole Warrior

January 19th, 2014
1:57 pm

Outstanding!! Simply, outstanding, my brother!!

Mike in Minnesota

January 19th, 2014
2:00 pm

D3 – You switched as I was writing…I’ll read this later but I wanted to address Ken’s post…real quick
so pardon me for going back and doing a “cut and past” to the last post.

Ken – I do not think Hill would not have initiated the cross training on his on !…I do think Nolan “could” have thought “it” up…but I don not think he would have initiated it with out Smith’s consent…I do think Smith ( being a former DC “might” have told the other two “this is what you’re going to do !” )…anyway you look at it I still think Smith had something to do with it…I do believe we may see a different Smith during preseason…IF there are O/D scheme changes or IF we see the OC/DC enacting their policies as THEY see fit , IF your right ( which I think you are ) and IF our schedule is “softer” than this year which it should be since we played so poorly…I think we’ll have a good year…and IF I am wrong Smith will be gone…IT’S A WIN WIN SITUATION !

JB Falcon

January 19th, 2014
2:01 pm

Lot of work there D3. Gonna be a lot of pages on this one. Hope AB reads this!

Mike in Minnesota

January 19th, 2014
2:05 pm

Ken – First sentence ….( I do not think Hill “would” have initiated…)…miss typed !

Mike in Minnesota

January 19th, 2014
2:11 pm

(***Note — lots of numbers, data, and calculations, so please feel free to let me know of any errors***).

I’m not complaining….GREAT JOB !

Screen Pass

January 19th, 2014
2:16 pm

“Finally, many believe that if not for Matt Ryan saving the day, that Smith wouldn’t have near the record he does. 24 times out of 60 wins (40%), Ryan has led the team on a game winning drive. While it’s obviously a team game and all get credit for comeback wins, fans that think that Ryan saves Smith’s bacon a lot are at least partially justified.” – D3

That 40% is a very high number indeed. I see many who constantly barf up boy love fandom about Aaron Rodgers as the bestament QB evah so let’s look at his stats in the GWD and 4QC categories ( http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/R/RodgAa00.htm ). We see the Football God Himself Rodgers has accumulated 9 GWDs and five 4QCs in his nine year supremacy over the NFL. That equates to less than 2 a year for the most bestament cutest QB evah!! Since A. Rodgers is so damn good we will give him credit for 2 a year even if an average replacement might only average one a year. This means in Smittys 6 year career the FOOTBALL GOD A Rodgers would have 12 wins stolen from defeat. This costs Smitty 12 wins however from being stuck with the terrible, horrible, worst QB evah M. Ryan…for shame!!

Smitty’s theoretical win/ loss record with A. Rodgers at the helm – (48 – 48) .500 win percentage

Smitty’s theoretical win/ loss record with a league avg QB – ( 42 – 54 ) .4375 win pct.

Yep, obviously M. Ryan sucks and Smitty is a football GAHD like A. Rodgers :) .

Oh yeah, great job on stats D3!!

Seminole Warrior

January 19th, 2014
2:20 pm

SP

The offensive line issues in Atlanta are a direct result of an inept front office and a lack of vision by the CFA. The personnel have been placed in bad situations too darn often.

From 2004 to the onset of this regime, the Falcons were a ZBS themed team. They ran their offense out of West Coast philosophy. Warrick Dunn and Mike Vick, until 2007, spearheaded a rushing juggernaut.

80% of the offensive line, again with zone blocking as its primary method, was in place when this regime arrived in January 2008. Todd McClure, Todd Weiner, Justin Blalock, Tyson Clabo, and Harvey Dahl were in place. The philosophy did not match the talent.

This regime even went out and acquired a FOUR time All American who excelled in a ZBS scheme. In the same draft, they had acquired the quarterback of the future; a quarterback that excelled in a West Coast offense and the zone blocking scheme that allowed for the maximizing of not only his skills as a quarterback but the team’s ability to rush effectively.

See the problem in Atlanta is not the offensive line. It is the men tasked with orchestrating a plan for the team.

Seminole Warrior

January 19th, 2014
2:20 pm

Blog monster got me…..

Wings

January 19th, 2014
2:24 pm

D3 I know you spent gobs of time putting all of those facts together. We all benefit from your hard work.

falcon21

January 19th, 2014
2:33 pm

Excellent write up D3, a lot of time and effort put in, I think The Cage Fam need to start paying you. Thanks for your dedication to this blog!

Seminole Warrior

January 19th, 2014
2:34 pm

The Tee Pee takes a very controversial approach here.

I do not consider Mike Smith to be the most successful coach in Falcons history. He is simply the most opportunistic coach in team history. Sure, he has 60 plus wins and that is top among the coaching ranks. But of all, that does not say much at all when you consider the monumental failures the franchise has had at coaches (exceptions: Bennett, Mora, and Reeves).

For six years, this “genius” has been stuck in neutral and has failed to develop talent, maximize potential, and amplify the strengths of players on the roster.

I will give him credit for his ability to navigate us through some difficult times after the darkest hours in the franchise’s history. But if you want to crown him as the greatest, then I would suggest that you are making a critical mistake.

For to be the greatest, you have to have something in your legacy that is distinguishing in nature; a pattern of sustained excellence or achievement.

The CFA has neither…thus, in the opinion of the Tee Pee, he is sustainable, not great.

Seminole Warrior

January 19th, 2014
2:48 pm

SP

I have tried twice to answer your question but the Monster struck in both cases.

In short, the CFA and his staff wasted a golden opportunity when they arrive in ATL. Over the previous four years, the offensive line had been the focal point of one of the most prolific rushing offenses in the NFL. It fell off dramatically in 2007 due to injuries. Passing was a weakness for sure.

During that 2004-2007 stretch, the Falcons used the zone blocking scheme. Players from that scheme would constitute 80% of the offensive line composition in place when the CFA arrived in 2008. Rather than build on a strength, they chose to abandon it. And they equally failed to bring in players better suited for the new approach of power blocking.

To further indicate the disconnect, the new regime made two moves that offset each other. They acquired a large, bruising back for the running game. Then in the draft, they took, with the first two selections, personnel (Matt Ryan and Sam Baker) that rose to prominence on the NCAAF scene in the West Coast Offense and the zone blocking scheme which was a key component there of.

So, in summary, I do not think the offensive linemen are the issue. I think they are just as darn confused as we are about the lack of vision, scheme, and commitment to an approach.

And Mike Tice offers nothing, from my point, that makes me feel, things are going to be any better.
He is not a ZBS authority and his last OL gig, Chicago, was a noted failure.

marko

January 19th, 2014
2:56 pm

Great work D3. You’d think even Smitty would find it useful. I once remember someone saying that the opening drive of the third quarter was the most important of the whole game. you set the tone for the rest of the struggle. This is an area where we’re clearly mailing it in. Lot’s of great stuff here. You’re going to keep busy on this one for quite awhile.

Seminole Warrior

January 19th, 2014
3:00 pm

SP

You are on point. While we all know that pass rush is an issue with the Falcons, the most pressing need is addressing the offensive line. If we can not rush the ball effectively on first and second down, if we can not use effectively the intermediate passing game to move the chains, if we can not secure the pocket from which Ryan will pass, then we have no chance of being competitive going forward.

Personally, the Tee Pee thinks that the draft class from last year was a better offensive line class. While there is considerable (last year, I used the word significant) value in the draft, the depth is very, very suspect in many positions that the Falcons need to fill.

I know I bet this drum often but a fundamental change in vision (or in our case, a commitment to one) is seriously needed.

If anyone thinks the Clown will be a better draft pick than Yankey if given the choice, they are punch drunk. The tangible results from a secure pocket are far GREAT in the big picture than the 8-12 sacks we could get from the Clown (if he even gets near those figures…and that is a BIG IF).

Flo-Ri-Duh

January 19th, 2014
3:09 pm

Seminole Warrior I don’t think the Falcons have had a “greatest” since they have never (since 1966) won a Super Bowl. Dan Reeves came the closest. What Smith is good at is beating bad teams. He usually wins the games he is supposed to win.

D3 … Excellent – to the point and 100% correct ! MS got the Falcons to respectability from doormat and I give him credit for that but is it in him and TD to get the Falcons to the next level with their current philosophy and tactics? That is in question.

D3

January 19th, 2014
3:09 pm

SW / SG — - Posts are out!

Thanks for all the praise guys. I wanted to go through and do a full-scale inventory on Mike Smith, his record, his teams, and put in a viewpoint from a purely statistical point of view. While it’s true that I already had some opinions and narrative before I researched (3rd quarter; feast on weak; famine on tough), these were all things that have been talked about for years, but never put in a purely statistical analysis. Sure, there’s probably things that are good (we likely outscore out opponents really heavy in 1st quarter), but the 2nd half has more to do with a win than does the first half, as we know well.

I think of all the stats, these 3 stick out the most:

1) 31% vs. playoff teams

2) 85% of Smith’s wins have come vs. teams w/ 9 wins or less

3) Outscored 7 – 52 in 3rd quarter in all playoff games

There’s just no way to spin that this dude can take us all the way. No way.

Flo-Ri-Duh

January 19th, 2014
3:11 pm

blog monster strikes again!

Seminole Warrior

January 19th, 2014
3:15 pm

SW – I believe Nolan got the extension just to ensure he didn’t jump at any other DC opportunity that opened up. That would be bad news in the further development of the young turks he did a decent job of bringing together this year plus it allows him to contribute to evaluating this draft class. (SP)

I respect your point here but I am going to go Missouri here. This “evolution” on defense has to show me that it is the future, not a blip from “scared” times. The infusion of youth was by default and not by choice as we all know.

I’m just not sold on the Nolan effect to the degree most of my Cage family brothers and sisters are.
And the hiring of Bryan Cox still has me scratching my head. When we look at it, is the defense any better today than it was with BVG? New blood sure but what were the results? Porous rushing D, suspect secondary play, and forced changes at linebacker due to injuries.

Just not feeling Nolan…

Seminole Warrior

January 19th, 2014
3:16 pm

The monster is greedy as heck today……damned!!

Flo-Ri-Duh

January 19th, 2014
3:17 pm

Game on ! Pats vs Broncs! Brady vs Manning!

I expect a low scoring game in the 20’s.

Guess I will pull for the Broncs and a good Dawg Knowshon.

Seminole Warrior

January 19th, 2014
3:17 pm

SG,

I saw the ESPN piece that you referenced. Ryan Clark was on target. And I agree. Those front offices do get it. And quietly, teams like Buffalo and Indy are getting it too.

Flo-Ri-Duh

January 19th, 2014
3:20 pm

Will wait a while to see if my comments come through – if not will send again.

D3 – I praised you for your wisdom concerning what’s wrong with the Falcons – right on point!
SW – YES blog monster will snatch your thoughts right out of your head! Ouch!!!

Flo-Ri-Duh

January 19th, 2014
3:24 pm

D3 – Jamie Collins is going to being All Pro some day…. Falcons need to hire you as they can’t tell the difference between a Mercedes and a Yugo when it comes to judging talent.

Flo-Ri-Duh

January 19th, 2014
3:27 pm

SW- MS is good at one thing – beating the teams below .500. Dan Reeves was the only HC that came anywhere within the universe of being labeled “great” as he was the only one to take the Birds to the Super Bowl. Shortly after the Management dumped him….

Seminole Warrior

January 19th, 2014
3:31 pm

D3

Allow me to gloat here if I may for both of us. You NAILED it with Jamie Collins last spring in the draft process and I am quite happy with Logan Ryan whom I wanted as one of those value cornerbacks.

Looks like both are going to be stars for years to come.

Amazing what commitment and quality player development can do for a team, huh?

Seminole Warrior

January 19th, 2014
3:33 pm

Flo

I think the Falcons brass have a mole in my home office…LOL.

And my statement on the “greatness” of Falcons coaches speaks for itself. Reeves should have never been fired.

Chop Buster

January 19th, 2014
4:18 pm

D3, great job in backing up what we fans already knew with the facts. For a defensive guy our HC has had a very below average defense since his arrival. It just shows that he was never that great in Jacksonville as a DC and still cannot produce a top defense. Those 3rd Qtr stalls are due to his 15 play script sheet. By the time the 3rd Qtr begins he’s run outta plays.

Chop Buster

January 19th, 2014
4:20 pm

SW – Reeves should have never been fired. AMEN!

Flo-Ri-Duh

January 19th, 2014
4:27 pm

Brady appears a bit off on his passes today…. must be the air in Denver?

Seminole Warrior

January 19th, 2014
4:38 pm

Flo

He will settle down in the second half. I think they are right where the want to be (the Pats) that is.
No major mistake made and still in the game at the half.

JB Falcon

January 19th, 2014
4:57 pm

Brady is almost as pouty as Scam. If he’s going to pull out a comeback, now would be a good time to start.

Grits Blitz

January 19th, 2014
5:09 pm

Brothers D3 & Warrior – Did you see my previous posts from this morning before they switched the new CAGE for this week? Hope so. Just wanted to give our esteemed leaders your props!!!! Keep delivering the truth and rain. I’ll keep learning from my friends, appreciating the nuggets of wisdom, and try to keep a hold on sanity! Following gelding football by the Suite Branch can be insane but truth, rain, and Prozac is an assificity poltace is medicinal to my asylum “disconnections”. Amen and carry on!

JB Falcon

January 19th, 2014
5:12 pm

I’m liking the D lineman for Denver named “potroast”. Seems like the Falcons have a bunch of porkchops, thin sliced.

falcon21

January 19th, 2014
5:12 pm

Priceless, yep, I did like that sack!!!

Seminole Warrior

January 19th, 2014
5:16 pm

JB F

Clearly, Fox and his staff are on their game with the interior pressure being applied.

Question?

Terrence Knighton. Was out there in 2012 as a free agent and Denver got him this past off season for 2 years, 4.75 million.

Just saying……

Seminole Warrior

January 19th, 2014
5:17 pm

Grits,

Thanks and you can count on it to be pointed and frequent from the Tee Pee.

[...] News here – Atlanta Falcons: The Cage ← Atlanta Weather | Winter Weather [...]

snacktastic

January 19th, 2014
5:35 pm

D3: You appear to have said “Panthers” when you meant to say “Buccaneers” in the paragraph about the regular season. But enough of my nit-picking.

Six years should give you a pretty clear idea of where a franchise is when its head coach stays the same, but looking at 2012 compared to the other years, Smitty looks like an enigma. Obviously, we can attribute a lot to the coordinators, and for things to go so well that year, you wouldn’t thing Smitty would try to make the OC/DC do things his way, but rather the other way around. And yet 2013 looked like the four years prior to 2012. Worse, even. But I haven’t a clue who or what to blame.

Smitty deserves a great deal of credit. He turned around a broken franchise with two things: Discipline and consistency. That’s why the Falcons had the fewest penalties in NFL history in 2012, and why we could count on about ten wins a season in spite of some glaring faults. However, it’s easier to count on discipline and consistency when you have a team full of veterans who have been hearing that message, and we cut a lot of them last year. Not to mention the injuries to other vets who would ordinarily be on the field. Perhaps the team would still have been trending up.

But to stick with the theme of the write-up, there’s one thing that matters to me most: Division wins. If you can’t beat the teams in your own division, getting into the playoffs is a roll of the dice. And beating teams as competitive as the ones in the NFC South should be an indication of how they’ll do in the playoffs.

All the other stats will work themselves out, or they won’t. So many of these stats are a consequence of our O and D lines, which are bound to be overhauled with Tice and Cox coming in. One can only hope they’ll have as much impact as Nolan and Koetter did in 2012.

That’s my take. It’s going to be a long offseason, but we’ll survive, Cagers.

Seminole Warrior

January 19th, 2014
5:39 pm

SP

Here is the reply I promised you regarding the offensive line question.

We will never know how effective this offensive line will be because we will never have a true offensive philosophy that, in my opinion, maximizes the talent of the assembled members until we change the composition of the front office.

Personally, I think that this IGNORANT approach to cross training of personnel has degraded the talents of our personnel and set them back. In addition, the failure to implement a true conditioning program as well as ensure quality depth is at the root of our offensive line woes. Distractions in the front office and an inept head coach DID NOT give Paul Boudreau, Paul Dunn, and Pat Hill the troops needed to implement and develop appropriately.

Did you and others know that 80% of the offensive line was in place when the CFA and his team took over the reigns in 2008?

Todd McClure and Todd Weiner emerged in Atlanta under the Mora regime. The same regime found a practice squad talent named Tyson Clabo and brought him into the ATL fold. It was the Petrino group that draft Justin Blalock and instantly made him a starter while at the same time, found another PS stud in Harvey Dahl.

These five OL players would be key elements in the evolution of one of the league’s most feared rushing attacks from 2004- 2007. Behind Vick and Dunn, with zone blocking themed offense, the Falcons were prolific at times. This Alex Gibbs themed approach worked well and has continued to work effectively WHEN a premium is placed on the acquistion of talent.

Keep that point in mind as we move forward.

Did you and others know that the CFA and his staff have only invested ONE “High level” draft pick on the offensive line?

The team went away from Dunn in 2008, going with FA Michael Turner. They drafted a quarterback that came from a West Coast offense which used, with excellent results, the intermediate passing game AND the zone blocking scheme. They (the new regime) even traded UP, back into the first round to select a FOUR TIME ALL-AMERICAN left tackle, from a ZBS team, to be the blind side protector for the new quarterback.

But again, philosophical differences seemed to have derailed the evolution of this approach.

Did you and others know that on TWO occasions, in drafts where offensive linemen was at a very nice premium, the Branch wasted opportunities by “trading” up for so-called impact players?

NOTE: Both of the impact players, by the way, have had careers in Atlanta that been riddled with extended periods of injury.

Lamar Holmes was a joke from the minute he was selected. If you looked at the limited film on him, it was clear that he needed a lot of work. Recall, this is a player that they had been watching for not weeks or months BUT years. And he has been an absolute train wreck. Reynolds, a true RT, is yet another case and point of criminal negligence on the part of this staff. And let us not forget the role that the infamous WPP has played in all this.

In summary, this offensive line is a major work in progress. And until there is a true commitment to a philosophy, weakness will be its hallmark.

Seminole Warrior

January 19th, 2014
5:41 pm

SP

As promised…..

We will never know how effective this offensive line will be because we will never have a true offensive philosophy that, in my opinion, maximizes the talent of the assembled members until we change the composition of the front office.

Personally, I think that this IGNORANT approach to cross training of personnel has degraded the talents of our personnel and set them back. In addition, the failure to implement a true conditioning program as well as ensure quality depth is at the root of our offensive line woes. Distractions in the front office and an inept head coach DID NOT give Paul Boudreau, Paul Dunn, and Pat Hill the troops needed to implement and develop appropriately.

Did you and others know that 80% of the offensive line was in place when the CFA and his team took over the reigns in 2008?

Todd McClure and Todd Weiner emerged in Atlanta under the Mora regime. The same regime found a practice squad talent named Tyson Clabo and brought him into the ATL fold. It was the Petrino group that draft Justin Blalock and instantly made him a starter while at the same time, found another PS stud in Harvey Dahl.

These five OL players would be key elements in the evolution of one of the league’s most feared rushing attacks from 2004- 2007. Behind Vick and Dunn, with zone blocking themed offense, the Falcons were prolific at times. This Alex Gibbs themed approach worked well and has continued to work effectively WHEN a premium is placed on the acquistion of talent.

Keep that point in mind as we move forward.

Did you and others know that the CFA and his staff have only invested ONE “High level” draft pick on the offensive line?

The team went away from Dunn in 2008, going with FA Michael Turner. They drafted a quarterback that came from a West Coast offense which used, with excellent results, the intermediate passing game AND the zone blocking scheme. They (the new regime) even traded UP, back into the first round to select a FOUR TIME ALL-AMERICAN left tackle, from a ZBS team, to be the blind side protector for the new quarterback.

But again, philosophical differences seemed to have derailed the evolution of this approach.

Did you and others know that on TWO occasions, in drafts where offensive linemen was at a very nice premium, the Branch wasted opportunities by “trading” up for so-called impact players?

NOTE: Both of the impact players, by the way, have had careers in Atlanta that been riddled with extended periods of injury.

Lamar Holmes was a joke from the minute he was selected. If you looked at the limited film on him, it was clear that he needed a lot of work. Recall, this is a player that they had been watching for not weeks or months BUT years. And he has been an absolute train wreck. Reynolds, a true RT, is yet another case and point of criminal negligence on the part of this staff. And let us not forget the role that the infamous WPP has played in all this.

In summary, this offensive line is a major work in progress. And until there is a true commitment to a philosophy, weakness will be its hallmark.

Seminole Warrior

January 19th, 2014
5:44 pm

Prater

Another one that got away from the Branch.

JB Falcon

January 19th, 2014
5:53 pm

Somebody bring Tom a towel to put over his head. Tom and Scam sitting in a tree, p-o-u-t-i-n-g..

Ken Strickland

January 19th, 2014
5:53 pm

MIKE IN MINNESOTA-The cross training approach was put in place sometime after his 1st season as HC when Mularkey was the OC & Boudreau was the OL coach. Despite coaching changes being made at OC & OL coach, Smitty has insisted on maintaining the approach. The best OLinemen we’ve had at each position during Smitty’s tenure weren’t cross trained says everything.

Any OLineman that’s an UDFA, or drafted after the 2nd rd, is obviously in need of some degree of development at his OL position. Why would anyone be stupid enough to think these OLinemen would be better off learning multiple positions & techniques when they’re in need of development at their primary OL positions?

Many of the NFLs best & most experienced OLinemen have difficulty making the simple adjustment of moving to the opposite side, or mastering the techniques & adjustments required in switching to a different position alltogether. But our STUCK ON STUPID HC sees no problem in forcing UDFAs & lower rd OL draft picks to make all of those adjustments at once.

Former HC Dan Reeves was fired because he was power hungry & wanted control over everything. He started out as the HC, OC, DC & GM. He battled with ABlank over that control & Blank subsequently mandated that he turn some of that control over to someone else. As a result, he hired a DC Wade Phillips, but held onto total control everywhere else.

He wasn’t fired because he was a bad HC, but because he was a bad GM. In the OFF season after taking the Falcons to the SB, he made bad decisions that led to the loss of numerous key OFF & DEF starters. As a HC, he proved with the Broncos(QB Elway), Giants(RB Middleton), & Falcons(RB JAnderson & QB MVick), that he couldn’t coach a team through injuries.

It’s not a matter of who we shouldn’t have fired, but who we shouldn’t have hired.

Seminole Warrior

January 19th, 2014
6:00 pm

Show Me Time….

Pat Hill’s offensive lines surrendered 28 sacks in 2012 and 44 in 2013. He got canned!!

Ohhhhhh joy…here comes Mike Tice.

The offensive line coach that once allowed his offensive line to surrender NINE sacks in a half.

An offensive line coach that saw his line give up an average of 51 sacks a season over his three year Chicago tenure.

And this is supposed to be reason for hope. Got to show me….

falcon21

January 19th, 2014
6:05 pm

Brady bites the dust, LMAO. Now it is time for Kap to bite the dust!

Seminole Warrior

January 19th, 2014
6:15 pm

Looks like Marcellus Wiley was right all the time. Denver’s defense and especially the defensive front played a great game.