Despite a miserable 4-12 season for the Atlanta Falcons, the futures of head coach Mike Smith, general manager Thomas Dimitroff and team president Rich McKay never were in doubt apparently.
All three were given contract extensions Monday, the team announced, as they try to return to being one of the NFL's most competitive teams as it had been before the 2013 season.
Part of the team's prior success has been credited to having a strong structure where everyone knows their place under the ownership of Arthur Blank, one of the more respected team owners in the game. That continuity should continue for the foreseeable future.
The Falcons' coaching staff just finished a week in which they coached the North squad of the Senior Bowl, and the front office received some help with the addition of former Kansas City Chiefs GM Scott Pioli, who was named the team's new assistant GM.
Dimitroff and Pioli worked closely together with the New England Patriots and are close friends, and Pioli and director of player personnel Lionel Vital have roots dating back to the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens in the 1990s. All three spent several years together under Bill Belichick in New England and are considered strong talent evaluators.
"There’s no issue at all,’’ Dimitroff told ESPN.com. "Scott and I have an incredible working relationship. We always have. We he was in charge in New England, we were very mindful of each other's roles and we could still close the door and have some very candid conversations. Rarely did it get heated.
"We were passionate about what we talked about. That will not change with the role reversal. I’m incredibly confident with our maturity in this business. I’m even that much more confident with our ability to have very insightful, interactive, and collaborative conversations. … I’m not at all concerned about any of the insinuation that there might be a struggle with personalities.’’
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