Once again, the Atlanta Falcons have failed to advance to the Super Bowl after a very successful regular season. Atlanta did manage to record their first playoff win under head coach Mike Smith and QB Matt Ryan, but fell short of reaching the big game once again yesterday, losing to the San Francisco 49ers. When does head coach Mike Smith become accountable for this dismal 1-5 playoff record?
For the second time under Smith, the Falcons secured home field advantage throughout the playoffs with the number one seed. The Falcons are a dominate team at the Georgia Dome so you would think home field advantage would springboard the Falcons to the Super Bowl. Think again.
For the Falcons, the playoffs were a tale of two halves. Atlanta jumped out to three score leads against both the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers, outscoring them 44-14 in the first half. The second half was a different story, only managing 10 points while opponents put up 42. Is this a lack of making proper adjustments? Isn’t the coaching staff responsible for that?
Since 2001, the San Francisco 49ers were just 1-27 when trailing by 17 or more points. Until yesterday. Sunday marked the biggest comeback in NFC Championship history.
There have been excuses made after playoff loses in recent years. Not enough playmakers,so the Falcons give up a draft in order to secure WR Julio Jones. The coaching staff was changed after last season’s playoff loss. So what happens this year?
Enough emphasis has been placed on the offense in recent years, but it’s obvious that the pieces are not in place on defense. The Falcons ranked 23rd against the pass and 21st versus the run this season. Atlanta ranked 31st in total tackles with 950 and ranked towards the bottom of the league with just 29 sacks on the year.
During the Niners comeback in the second half, you could just see the attitude of the Falcons players change. Camera shots of defenders on the sidelines showed listless players that seemed to sense what was about to happen. The mental toughness of this team needs to be questioned.
Ultimately, Mike Smith is the head coach of this team and while he gets credit for the wins, he must assume responsibly for the losses. Smith is running out of excuses and really needs to find a way to get the Falcons to the Super Bowl or he will quickly become known as the next Marty Schottenheimer.