FLOWERY BRANCH — On a hot day in July, Mike Smith made reference to January. That was the new beginning, the coach said, the day his Falcons beat Tampa Bay to finish 9-7. Not that Smitty was celebrating the 9-7.
“We got the result we wanted to get us over the hump with the consecutive winning seasons,” he said Friday, “but I have to tell you I was very, very disappointed in the final result of the season. Internally our goals were much, much higher.”
In Tampa, Smith told his players: “This is the first game of 2010. We need to start 2010 in the right fashion.”
And they did. And the Falcons have scarcely put a foot wrong since. They signed Dunta Robinson. They drafted Sean Weatherspoon. They re-signed Brian Williams. And now here they were, after the first practice of Training Camp 2010, hot but happy.
“The fact that it’s 100 degrees doesn’t matter,” said Tony Gonzalez, the tight end.