In trying to put the nightmare that was the 2007 season behind them, the Falcons have announced that Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Smith is their new head coach. The hiring of Smith ends a search that included the likes of Colts assistant coach Jim Caldwell, USC’s Pete Carroll, Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Fraizer, and Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan.
The 48-year-old was a darkhorse all along, as many were surprised at the hiring, which came late on Wednesday. “Mike possesses all of the key qualities we were looking for in a head coach,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “Among them, he has strong experience with winning teams, a track record of success, a solid, smart approach to the game, and high character and integrity. I’m sure our players and staff will quickly gain loyalty and respect for Mike, and I’m personally looking forward to working with him.”
To say that Smith will have his work cut out for him with the Falcons is an understatement. The team went 4-12, and had a season that saw some of the wackiest situations ever to hit a team. First the Michael Vick saga, then the DeAngelo Hall/Bobby Petrino feud, then Grady Jackson release, and to top it off Petrino leaving the team high and dry after 13 games.
“I’m thrilled and excited to be the new head coach of the Atlanta Falcons,” Smith said. “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. I’ve always believed that’s what makes championship teams.” The Falcons were 29th in total defense, so hiring a guy whose specality is defense is not much of a surprise. Good luck Mike, your going to need it.