The Falcons’ abject failure was a failure of coaching

The winning kick sails home, and Julio Jones is not amused. (Matt Dunham/AP photo)

The winning kick sails home, and Julio Jones is not amused. (Matt Dunham/AP photo)

The winning kick sails home, and Julio Jones is not amused. (Matt Dunham/AP photo)

The winning kick sails home, and Julio Jones is not amused. (Matt Dunham/AP photo)

London — These short takes are presented as a companion to the Falcons-Lions game column, which can be found here. The Lions somehow won 22-21.

1. A well-coached team doesn’t lose this game. I’m on the record (many times) as believing that Mike Smith is the best coach the Falcons have ever had, but the whiffs in clock management — at the end of both halves — and simple execution cannot be seen as anything other than a indictment of coaching. A 59-yard touchdown on third-and-25 on a play that bore a striking resemblance to the 74-yard pass caught by the Bears’ Alshon Jeffery two weeks ago. A terrible interception by Matt Ryan, who of all people should know better. A holding penalty that stopped the clock with 1:50 remaining when Detroit had no timeouts. A stirring first-half performance that yielded only an excruciating loss. As owner Arthur Blank said: “There’s just no way you lose that game.”

2. With a bye week at hand and his team 2-6, does Blank move to fire Smith? I can’t see it, nor do I think it should happen. (There’s no real precedent for an NFL team improving after a midseason coaching change.) I think Blank likes Smith and wants to give him every chance to right this, but my guess is that even the owner has come to wonder if this staff is capable of fixing things. The Falcons just played their best non-Tampa Bay half of the year and lost to an opponent that didn’t have Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush and that lost Nick Fairley in the first half. This was a terrible, terrible loss.

3. Apart from the outcome, how was the England experience? The atmosphere at Wembley was first-class. It didn’t feel like a game being played in a foreign county. It felt like a real game of (American) football in a real football stadium. “I wasn’t too thrilled about the food over here,” guard Justin Blalock said, “but everything else was nice.” And what of the crowd of 83,532, at least 55,000 of whom appeared to be rooting — at mostly the proper times in the proper way — for the Falcons? They were great, Blalock said. “I thought they just might get excited about the kicking game,” he said, smiling a pained smile.

Reader Comments 4

452 comments
GrayHairedFalconGirl
GrayHairedFalconGirl

wow - just watched Matt Ryan throw interception for a 103 yard touchdown.  

GrayHairedFalconGirl
GrayHairedFalconGirl

I only got to see the last quarter of the game Sunday thanks to my stupid Uverse DVR.  After watching the first half of the Falcons game today, I have a revised opinion.  I felt the D line played extremely well and I don't have any complaints although I would have liked a sack or turnover.  They blocked, they were where they were suppose to be, they created hurries.  Even Hester had a nice run.  I am happy with the way the O line performed as well.  They protected the QB.  They blocked.  Ryan made adjustments by getting rid of the ball laser fast and completing.  I'm happy.  As for the second quarter, I am going to go take some barbiturates and come back to talk about it.

MoreyP
MoreyP

mike and thomas will be wanting huge raises from arthur at the end of the year from all the stress they are under this year with this terrible team and all the extra work they are having to do to get these bad players to show up

RoseUp
RoseUp

I was born in Atlanta before the Braves or Falcons were here. In my lifetime we've had three titles, one each for the Bulldogs, Yellow Jackets and Braves. During that time, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Miami, Cincinnati, Green Bay and Dallas have had multiple-championship runs. 


Atlanta is a very sad town in which to be a local sports fan. It is the doormat of American sports. 


If I were Arthur Blank, I would rebuild this team, starting right now. Clean house and start over. Start with the biggest center and the meanest nose tackle available, then add guards and tackles. Start from the middle and build from the inside out. That's how you build a solid house, or business, or team, or anything. Arthur should understand this. 


If you put lipstick on a pig it's still a pig. This Falcons team is a fat, ugly pig right now. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are the lipstick. Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff are the makeup artists. They've got to go. Trade Ryan and Julio for linemen and build a team around them. They are both good players but NFL games are won or lost in the trenches, where the Falcons are the worst team in the NFL.


Remember the Hawgs of the Redskins? Pittsburgh's Steel Curtain? The Vikings Purple People Eaters? Heck, even the Falcons own Gritz Blitz. Championship teams have solid lines.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@ThomasBrownUGA

So desperate for hits on your Dawg blog that you're soiling Falcon blogs now, ThomAss?

tlmaddox
tlmaddox

Atlanta calling a time out in the last 1/2 minute speaks volumes.

DixieRoss
DixieRoss

Obviously they have "plateaued" with Smitty and should get another coach who can take them further.  (deja vu!?!)


I say get another GM and make another assessment on coaching from there.

SaintsREAM
SaintsREAM

That picture is hilarious. Mike Smith = begging; Julio =can't believe he dropped another ball; Harry Douglas = decides to pleasure himself. LMAO

ATLACE
ATLACE

The problem starts with Blank. Rewind to 07 to the GM and head coach search. Dimitroff was an exec from New England, coming here to bring NE winning ways. Smith was "settled for" after it was apparent that Blank repelled great calibre coaches due to his meddling reputation. This meddling reputation rears its ugly head every time he shows up on the sidelines during a game. Dimitroff is an empty suit. Does a talented evaluator give up 6 picks for a great wide receiver? I thought the NE way was to trade down and find talent in the 3rd, 4th and 5th round. Dimitroff hoodwinked Blank into thinking he was a capable and competent GM. But hey Arthur will be building a sparkling new stadium to showcase his stumbling no direction team.

zuzu331
zuzu331

@ATLACE Best assessment Ive seen on here so far. Smith would probably prefer just going back to being a Defensive Coordinator. He's made that big HC money for a few years,hes done his best,nice guy,whatever. We wouldve had Bill Parcells in here If it werent for Blank blowing that deal out. I doubt with Blank at the Helm the Falcons will ever do much but flop and flail around. The playoff loss to SF was the Pinnacle,that was it.

zuzu331
zuzu331

@ATLACE Let me correct myself,that TERRIBLE playoff loss to SF. Just awful.

BravesFan79
BravesFan79

After yesterday I think the Saints will run away with the division. And hopefully the Lion's can make the NFC title game. Seeing the best receiver ever in big games is always good for the league... And fans! Calvin needs to stay off that ankle and rest up for the end of the season! As for the Falcons, their not gonna get back to being a dominant team again in the next 2 years without a top stud defensive draft pick, and a top defensive free agent like D Suh. Who cares how we loose em... Just loose!

Mutley
Mutley

You miss the point. Atlanta needs to hire a witch, a warlock or have a city wide seance to remove the "Scorched Earth Curse " put on Atlanta by Gen. William T. Sherman. Until this is done futility rules.

Bogey
Bogey

OH, and by the way, you caption under the photo above says Julio is not amused.....he shouldn't be since he could just have caught a simple swing pass he could have taken another 40+ seconds off the clock - that combined with a penalty on Stone on a running play for God's sake gave Stafford too much time.

Savdon
Savdon

After further review, even though I did not get to watch the game, and based on the game article at Grantland, this loss WAS worse than the 1980 loss to the Cowboys.  1 lucky misstep by Too Tall Jones and 2 blown coverages by Roland Lawrence pale in comparison to the ineptitude that was apparent yesterday. 

Bogey
Bogey

In college football, it is not unusual for a coach to be fired in November to provide the AD more time to get the right replacement in for a full recruiting season


In the pros, there's no reason to do let the coach go prior to the end of the season (unless you have evidence he's about to show absolutely no class and scream out "Pig Soooey" at a press conference the very next day).


Also, if you wait you'll have a larger pool to choose from for your next head coach coming from all the other fired head coaches - sad but true. Seriously though it does improve who will also be brought in as assistant coaches.


Dimitroff HAS to go at the end of the season, and Smith and company will be immediately after.

zuzu331
zuzu331

@Bogey Pig Sooey! Ha,Ha.

GrayHairedFalconGirl
GrayHairedFalconGirl

$$hitty is giving a interview now at flowery branch.  Can't stand to even hear his voice.  He finally takes some responsibility.  So if you know you are to blame - RESIGN!

Esquire
Esquire

Ok, so who is Arthur gonna hire?  Head coach?  GM?  We have to make a change. Black Monday will be here before you know it.  Let's give a shot to someone not previously a head coach in the NFL, can't be worse than what we've got.  

JosephBragg
JosephBragg

@Esquire I'm available for an interview...  I know Basic Clock Management... I think that means I'm already better off.

Esquire
Esquire

@JosephBragg    You might be on to something..........send Arthur your resume

.

zuzu331
zuzu331

@JosephBragg @Esquire If you cant pucker up and smooch King Artie's fanny real well dont bother. Blank should just go all out with the commercialism,make the Unis orange and white,call 'em the Atlanta Nail Drivers,give 'em all dumba** reality shows. Meh.

ATL89
ATL89

What upsets me the most, is that I like Mike Smith, and thinks he's a great guy, but he has to go, and Dimitroff has to go too!

tyger
tyger

Chickens have come home to roost...


Smith's brain farts amplified by losing streak...

Otherwise, not  that bad, players didn't execute...

Which players? Matt Ryan and Julio Jones...


The highest paid players did not come thru...

Again, a mis-evaluation/allocation of assets ...

That is not Smitty's fault...he is complicit however...


Giving away the farm to Ryan, Julio, Baker...

Haunts this franchise...firing Smitty changes nothing...

ATL didn't have picks nor money to improve...keep pace...

Signed players not elevating performance to compensate...


Doesn't excuse not running ball on 3rd down, but...


When its bad, it "bees that way sometimes"...

GrayHairedFalconGirl
GrayHairedFalconGirl

Money is the only think that talks when it comes to rich folks.  Get rid of your tickets and do not fill up the dome until some changes are made.

ATL89
ATL89

#FIREMIKESMITH and #FIRETHOMASDIMITROFF, at the end of the season of course; there is no point in firing them now.

Susan89
Susan89

Eventhough I DESPISE the Falcons, I felt bad for them in a way when they lost to Detroit.  The same exact thing happened to the Saints the week before.  They won at the last second by 1 point.  That is NOT a good win.  A lot of people always says a win is a win, but teams that win like this on a regular basis do not end up playing in the Superbowl.  Look at the Falcons a few years ago...prime example.  Oh well..  WHO DAT???!!!

warfalcon
warfalcon

In two weeks[Monday 11/10/14] we will be saying WOW after we lose to the Tampon Boys.


Empty GA. DOME  on  11/23/14.

Ruffski
Ruffski

@warfalcon Not empty... Full of rabid, noise-makin Browns fans looking to make it a home game for them. Falcon fans should be wearing paper bags. 

Esquire
Esquire

@Ruffski    I think the Aints own some kind of patent on the brown paper sack look.  

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

#1 - Yep, Coach is to blame for lining up that offensive line he has little confidence in (for good reason), and putting Ishmael, Ryan, and Soliai in the game.


#2 - The main problem is in the front office (Owner-GM), not the coach. Smith didn't make all those draft picks, sign those dud free agents, trade a draft for one player, overpay a quarterback and several replacement level veterans.


#3 - One has to wonder (aloud) if the Falcons lose that game in the dome.

baseball sucks
baseball sucks

@DawgDadII It's  apparent  you don't know  how a team 's draft board is put together ,or you wouldn't made such a    comment  about Mike Smith  NO  role in draft selections ,and free agents signing,  Mike Smith and GM Dimitroff   , put together   a  draft  list of   players  entering the draft ,and  long before the  draft day    have already  pretty much decided  who the team is looking at and where in the draft they  expect to draft  them ,Smith's hands might be  all over the  defensive picks ,especially  with his  resume coming to Atl. was suppose to be that of a defensive cord. and we see what a disaster the drafting and free agent evaluation of  talent has been horrible....Blanks  and most owners  try to hire  a gm who have  similar vision of building a team like they have Looks like Blank and Dimitroff decided  to throw everything including the kitchen sink  at building a high power explosive  type offense  judging by the  quarter of a billion dollars  in contracts  they have tied up  on that side of the ball on a Qb, Receivers, Backs, and TWO  first rd picks on the  OL.The reason why Ryan and the offense  is catching so much heat is  their play have been at best  Mediocre  to Fair ,for  qb and offensive that has  suck up most of the team's assets  that would be drafting ,and free agent signing,.... try to remember what White said  others said coming out of camp this year, that this team should score 31 points a game,  bad defense or not  if the falcons average 31 points a game this team is 7 AND 1

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

@baseball sucks @DawgDadII  ". . . or you wouldn't made such a    comment  about Mike Smith  NO  role in draft selections ,and free agents signing . . ."


WHERE did I say this??? Nowhere. I said he does not MAKE the picks and SIGN the free agents.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

@baseball sucks @DawgDadII Look -- I WROTE IT! Nowhere in there do I say or imply Smith has NO role. Nowhere. NO means "NO"; to the best of my knowledge no President has redefined that word yet..

GrayHairedFalconGirl
GrayHairedFalconGirl

@DawgDadII @baseball sucks It's a little confusing the way you word it.  It sounds like you say he is to blame in #1 and in #2 you snatch it back and say it's  B&D.  I guess you were trying to be sarcastic in #1 but instead you  pissed off baseball.  LOL.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

Sorry, didn't mean that Oci human-urine thing below. Funny, but that's what the iPad came up with when I said it. Actually I kind of like it.

SaintsREAM
SaintsREAM

The picture above says it all.  Mike Smith with that "praying" body language is not that of a  Head Coach that has a plan of how to right the ship. This is when he must earn his Head Coaching money....when times are tough.

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

@SaintsREAM Like the way your defensive players tried to hurt other players for $$$. CSP, what a good coach.

Susan89
Susan89

@gtcaryd @SaintsREAM WOW!!!  You really should do your homework.  If you had then you would know that was NEVER PROVEN in the end...get over it.  Your team sucks!!!!

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

@Susan89 @gtcaryd @SaintsREAM


Calm down Susan.  Your team stinks is 3 and 4, lost to the Falcons and is in the worse division in football.  Geez...have something to cheer about! You dont have to wear your paper bags until Thursday! Geez! You would think you Nutria have a little respect on our blog! 

GrayHairedFalconGirl
GrayHairedFalconGirl

@Susan89 @gtcaryd @SaintsREAM Um. yours'

kinda does too and btw- we beat you :) so what does that say about the saints?

baseball sucks
baseball sucks

@Susan89 @gtcaryd @SaintsREAM  Notice you said " It Was Never Proven" ,so that makes it right huh ,i guess it would living in THE most historically CORRUPT state in America , anything goes  if you don't make prison  time.... If the NFL Commissioner  wasn't  trying to get this soil stain of a organization   scandal out of the headlines ,i wonder if N.O would even have a franchise. What should have happen  players past and present  who played the Saints  during this time  should have  went for  criminal and civil  charges against the  thugs down there, where is Ken Nugent and the other ambulance chaser ,and instead of worrying about the quality of the Falcons , you should be worried about the quality of living  of  thousands of New Orlean citizens still living in trailers  and makeshift living conditions Billions of dollars in aid post Katrina ,  ask those folks was rebuilt over Super Dome  more urgent than a decent place to sleep,YOUR TEAM AND YOUR STATE SUCKS!!!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Mike Smith did was he does best: horribly mismanage the clock. (The Atlanta Journal Constitution puts the loss squarely on Smith’s […]

  2. […] MARK BRADLEY: The Falcons abject failure was a failure of coaching […]

  3. […] MARK BRADLEY: The Falcons abject failure was a failure of coaching […]

  4. […] past two losses — separated by 28 days and the Atlantic Ocean — have come because of time mismanagement. We can say the Falcons have a thin roster or a bad defense or an overmatched defensive coordinator […]