Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank spoke for the first time this season on the state of his head coach and general manager, and he expressed confident in both despite the team's 2-8 record.
Blank spoke to the media following a disappointing 41-28 loss — one that was not as close as the score indicated — and, per ESPN's Vaughn McClure, showed strong support for both Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff amid the wreckage.
"We love our head coach and we love our general manager," Blank said. "It's up to them to candidly look at everybody — candidly, honestly, critically — and see what we have to do. There should be nobody that escapes that critique. That's their job, and I have confidence they'll do it. And they are doing it. And they will do it."
Previously, Dimitroff said he supported Smith, but with the losing continuing, now some of the fire has turned to whether even he deserves to keep his job.
Despite the Falcons being within a few snaps of the Super Bowl this past February following a 13-3 record and a home appearance in the NFC title game, Blank said he only need remind himself of the franchise's unsettled past before Smith and Dimitroff showed up as reason enough to be pleased with the state of the Falcons.
"The old days, the Atlanta Falcons were going up and down every year — 36 years — so we've had five great years, second-most wins in the league," Blank said. "Obviously what's disheartening is this year, when you're sitting at 2-8 with the expectations that were reasonable coming into this year. It's very disappointing for our fans [and] for everybody connected to the franchise."
Asked if he had complete confidence in the abilities of Smith and Dimitroff to dig the team out of this hole, Blank was unwavering.
"I absolutely do," Blank said. "They've earned it over the last five years. This is a tough business, and we've had a lot of injuries. [There have] been a lot of other issues on top of the injuries, and that's pretty obvious.
"These guys are proven leaders and proven by success and proven by their record. They'll do the work that has to be done, with my full support. We'll get back to what we have to do."
That's good news for the coach and front office, who now can focus on what it will take to turn the ship around, but as Blank said they had earned it with a five-year pattern of success that few teams in the league can boast.
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