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Monday, 29 December 2014

Falcons Dismiss Mike Smith as Head Coach of Team

Mike Smith’s time in Atlanta has finally come to an end. The Atlanta Falcons have announced they have parted ways with Smith and will be searching for a new head coach. Smith has been released from his contract with the team, according to team sources.

“Smitty’s contributions to our club, team and city over the last seven years are numerous,” team owner Arthur Blank said.  “His accomplishments on the field made him the most successful coach in the 49-year history of the Falcons, and we are grateful for the foundation he has laid for us for the future.”

Smith joined the Falcons as its 14th head coach in 2008.  During his seven seasons with the Falcons, the team compiled a 66-46 (.589) regular season record and captured two NFC South Division titles.  Smith was the first Falcons head coach to put together back-to-back winning seasons, and he went on to add three more for a string of five over his seven years.  In his first stint as an NFL head coach, Smith reached the 50-win milestone in 71 games, the third-fastest head coach to accomplish the feat since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.

Prior to joining the Falcons, Smith served as the defensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars for five seasons (2003-2007).  Before joining Jacksonville, he spent four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens defense (1999-2002) and contributed to the team’s first Super Bowl championship in 2000.

The Falcons have already begun the search process as they have asked permission to talk with Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase.

"I'll be involved in the search completely, so I'll be in the middle of that process," Blank said. "So we'll go through the process as diligently and as thoughtfully and with as much painstaking detail that we can, and we'll come to a collective decision. But at the end of the day, the decision will be mine."

Blank vowed to give offensive- and defensive-minded coaches equal weight. He also said power would not be an issue in the end, which would indicate the new coach would have to be onboard with Dimitroff or else more change might occur.

"Thomas is our general manager," Blank said. "If there are any changes, obviously we'll let you know about that."

Blank was pressed on keeping Dimitroff, who has two years left on his contract.

Dimitroff will be involved in the coaching search along with the organization's internal team. Blank confirmed consulting with Joe Banner, a former executive with the Browns and Eagles. The Falcons also hired the search firm Korn Ferry to assist in identifying candidates.

Korn Ferry assisted in the searches that landed Andy Reid in Kansas City and Bill O'Brien in Houston.

Blank dismissed any notion that hiring the firm was a distraction for Smith and the Falcons going into the final game, considering the news went public well before kickoff.

Don’t count out other candidates like Josh McDaniels who is the offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots. McDaniels has ties to the organization. Assistant general manager Scott Pioli worked in the Patriots organization with him.


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