Forgive Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith if he's seem confident. Forgive him if he's not focusing on the dismal performance by his team in a 30-20 loss to Carolina. Forgive him if he doesn't engage in coach speak about how and why it happened. Forgive him if he isn't scared stiff heading into Sunday's match-up against the Giants. Forgive him if he doesn't sweat the small stuff.
But don't forget he's been here before. This is the guy who has led the Falcons to nineteen wins after a loss. The last time his team lost back-to-back games was back in 2009. Don't forget it's only happened three times since he's been at Flowery Branch.
Rare as they are, rebounds have become a hallmark of Smith's tenure. A tenure that is focused more on windshield than rear-view. More forward than reverse.
Which is why you won't hear much about the loss to Carolina. No talk about a 24-2 loss to the Giants in last year's NFC Wildcard game. No mention of the Giants five game series win streak. Not a word of Eli Manning's 661 yards in the last two meetings.
For Smith, to peer in the rear-view is to put this ride in reverse.
“It’s the mindset that you try and get the guys in after the ballgame,” Smith told reporters in his daily media briefing posted at AtlantaFalcons.com. He added, “You want to stop the streak at one when you don’t get the outcome that you want. That’s what we’ve talked about from the very beginning. You got to flush the previous game out as quickly as possible.”
Forward for the Falcons means starting fast and finishing strong. Since 2008, Atlanta is 40-10 when scoring on their opening possession. So far in 2012 they've totaled forty-four points on their first possessions. Ranking them second in the league.
On defense the theme is much the same. Defend the run early before the Giants get established. Finish strong on third down without giving their opponent a fresh set of downs. The Falcons have allowed thirteen third-down conversions on twenty-two opportunities. In the past two games.
For all Atlanta's accomplished in 2012 much remains. The remains are a potential bye week in the playoffs. And home-field advantage.
Forgive Smith if he doesn't focus on the accomplishments. But don't forget he's focused on what remains.