The Atlanta Falcons announced Monday that they’ve extended the contracts of president Rich McKay, general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith. Perhaps it’s only a coincidence that the guy who has headed the drive to build a new stadium was handed four more years — a rather presidential increment — while the two guys who assembled the team that just went 4-12 got only one-year bumps.
Then again, perhaps not.
Arthur Blank has missed no opportunity to express his confidence in the tandem of Smitty and Dimitty. Still, a one-year extension — both are now under contract through 2016; McKay’s deal runs through 2019 — is open to interpretation as a hedged bet. It’s akin to saying, “I love you guys, but I really didn’t love that product you just put forth. Please do better soon.”
Which is no different than what most right-thinking Falcons fans would say. Dimitroff and Smith are the best at their respective jobs this long-suffering franchise has ever known. Heck, they’re the reasons that Falcons fans went five whole years without suffering much at all. But the NFL isn’t a business where the historical cuts much ice. Andy Reid took the Philadelphia Eagles to four consecutive NFC title games in the early part of this century; come 2013, he found himself coaching the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Falcons won more regular-season games from 2008 through 2012 than any NFL team save New England. That run of excellence was the doing of Dimitroff and Smith. This year saw the Falcons fall from 13-3 to 4-12. That likewise came on their watch.
Do I believe they’re capable of fixing what just broke? Yes. But if I were them, I’d make haste in the fixing. The last thing this owner wants is for that shiny new stadium to house a broken-down team.