The Atlanta Falcons lost their first playoff game for the second straight year and for the third time in the last four years.
Since Mike Smith came to Atlanta in 2008, the Falcons have had a lot of success. The dirty birds have four straight winning season and three playoff births in the last four years. They have two NFC South Championships and have won at least 10 games in three of the four years Smith has been in town.
The Falcons have been a consistent offensive powerhouse, and the defense has improved steadily since Smith took over. The team as a whole has been getting better and better since 2008. The Falcons finished 2011 at 10-6 and earned the fifth seed in the NFC. They were ranked 10th in the NFL in offense and 12th in defense.
Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and Roddy White have each led the team in their respective positions for the past four years. Young defensive play makers like Sean Weatherspoon, Curtis Lofton, William Moore and Brent Grimes have helped the defense improve drastically.
However, despite all of the Falcons' improvements since 2008, they have yet to win a playoff game under head coach Mike Smith.
Smith has a record of 43-21 since joining the Falcons and he has been near unbeatable in the Georgia Dome. Smith has done a lot of things for the Falcons since that disastrous Bobby Petrino led '07 season, but he has not won Atlanta a playoff game.
We all know that playoff wins and Super Bowls are truly the only things that matter in the NFL, and Smith has yet to get close to a championship with the Falcons.
I am not suggesting that the Falcons need to go out and get a new head coach this offseason, and probably not even next year. However, if Smith makes the playoffs next season and Atlanta does not win that game, then a red flag needs to go up in the Falcons' organization.
We have seen many coaches that can win a lot of regular season games, but just cannot seem to win in the playoffs. Jim Mora, Marty Schottenheimer and Norv Tuner are are examples of guys who just can't seem to put it together in the playoffs. Smith needs to win one soon so that he does not fall in this category.
The Falcons have just about all the talent that they need to make a run at a Super Bowl, but they have yet to put it all together in one game, much less a whole season. It seems as if there is not a single piece missing from the Falcons, but at the same time they cannot win in the playoffs.
If Smith can win a playoff game next year, then that will be a big accomplishment. However, Smith will need a victory in the playoffs soon, otherwise we may be talking about who Atlanta's next head coach is sooner than we thought.
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