Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith inherited a franchise that lacked an identity after former quarterback Michael Vick’s legal troubles. The Falcons finished 4-12 in 2007 before Smith’s arrival. Most NFL observers believed Smith’s hardest job would be making Atlanta competitive.
Smith guided Atlanta to an 11-5 record during his first season in 2008. He created the illusion that Atlanta could compete for a Super Bowl title, and that currently is his biggest problem.
Atlanta finished 13-3 and advanced to the NFC Championship Game last season. The offseason acquisition of Steven Jackson, plus the return of tight end Tony Gonzalez, was supposed to solidify Atlanta’s championship run in 2013.
Instead, Atlanta is currently 2-5 after a 27-13 loss against the Arizona Cardinals this past Sunday. Jackson rushed 11 times for six yards against the Cardinals, while quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked four times. Atlanta’s defense allowed Arizona running back Andre Ellington to rush for 154 yards and one touchdown.
Factor in Smith’s 1-4 playoff record and it appears Atlanta should move in another direction after this season.
THIS WEEK’S THREE HOTTEST SEATS
Greg Schiano, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Even Schiano must wonder, “What does a guy have to do to get fired around here?” Schiano’s team is 0-7 and showed little fight during a recent loss against the Carolina Panthers. Cornerback Darrelle Revis is not sure players believe in their coach, while Bucs fans are ready for a change. Tampa Bay’s owners and Schiano could be the only group of people content with things remaining the same.
Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans
The coach is placing his job security into the hands of undrafted rookie Case Keenum against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Considering Matt Schaub did not help his coach this season, Keenum is not a bad option. Houston has dropped five straight games, and Kubiak needs a win very soon.
Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta’s victories this season have been against St. Louis (3-5) and Tampa Bay (0-7). If you are not impressed, imagine what team owner Arthur Blank must be thinking.
Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins
A year after making the playoffs, Shanahan’s squad is 2-5 and ranked 29th in defense. Quarterback Robert Griffin III has been average this season, and despite playing in a weak division, Shanahan does not appear to have any answers.
Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers
Carolina is above .500 for the first time since 2008, and that is enough to take Rivera off the hot seat. We will know more about the Panthers and Rivera’s coaching ability after his team’s next four games (Atlanta, San Francisco, New England and Miami).
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