|In Mike Smith's five seasons as coach, the Falcons are 56-24 in the regular season with two division titles. (US Presswire)|
Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith joined elite company on Friday when he was named Sporting News Coach of the Year for the third time in five seasons.
Smith joined Paul Brown, Chuck Knox and Joe Gibbs as the only coaches to win the award three times. Don Shula received the honor four times in his Hall of Fame coaching career.
In Smith's five seasons in Atlanta, the Falcons have compiled a 56-24 (.700) regular season record with five straight winning seasons, three straight playoff berths, and two division titles. Smith also captured the award in 2008 and 2010. With a 30-28 defeat of the Seahawks in the NFC Divisional Playoffs, the Falcons won a playoff game for the first time since 2004. Atlanta also hosted the NFC Championship for the first time in franchise history, but saw its season end in a 28-24 defeat to the 49ers.
|The home of the Super Bowl|
“It was not our goal this year just to win a playoff game, our expectations are a lot higher than that,” Smith said Monday in his season-ending press conference. “I think it was a very good learning experience this entire season for us as a football team, as a coaching staff. It allows us to take some of the good and some of the bad that took place this season (and) work on it in the offseason.”
Smith reached the 50-win milestone in 71 games. He is the third fastest head coach to accomplish the feat since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Only George Seifert (62 games) and Knox (65 games) reached 50 wins faster than Smith during that span.
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