Sports Outside the Beltway

Atlanta Falcons hire Mike Smith to be head Coach

He had been defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars since 2003. From AP-

ATLANTA – The Atlanta Falcons’ new rookie coach already is sounding like the veteran who took the team to its only Super Bowl. Mike Smith, the former Jacksonville defensive coordinator hired by the Falcons on Wednesday night, could have been reading from former Atlanta coach Dan Reeves’ script.

“My goal is to build a well-disciplined, hard-nosed football team that will be able to run the football on offense and stop the run on defense,” Smith said. “I’ve always believed that’s what makes championship teams.”

Reeves used that formula to take the Falcons to the NFC championship in 1998. Reeves’ successor, Jim Mora, also stressed the run in his three years. Then came Bobby Petrino, who lasted only 13 games.

In announcing his first hire as general manager, Thomas Dimitroff said Smith “possesses all of the key qualities we were looking for in a head coach.”

Dimitroff said the 48-year-old Smith, a 26-year coaching veteran and the Jaguars’ defensive coordinator since 2003, “has strong experience with winning teams, a track record of success, a solid, smart approach to the game, and high character and integrity.”

Unless I’m mistaken, Smith was on no one’s hot list for potential head NFL coaches. That can change rapidly, I never heard of Tony Sparano till the Miami Dolphins hired Bill Parcells.

Smith faces a daunting task in Atlanta. Sometimes miracles do happen, who thought Chuck Noll would turn around long-time NFL cellar dweller Pittsburgh. I wish Mike Smith good luck, he’s going to need it.

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