|Arthur Blank (at left, with Mike Smith) says Smith's seat is plenty cool. (Getty Images)|
Because he hasn't won a playoff game since taking over the Falcons, there's a notion that Mike Smith might be on the hot seat in Atlanta.
To rational people (and, um, those of us who picked Atlanta to win the Super Bowl this year), that idea is absolute insanity. Falcons owner Arthur Blank is clearly a rational person, telling D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Smith's seat is perfectly chilled, as is that of GM Thomas Dimitroff.
"He's not on any hot seat," Blank said. "Coach Smith, he and Thomas, I particularly feel really blessed -- and I don't use that word every day, all day long -- I feel blessed having them both in place."
But this isn't breaking news; Blank previously told CBSSports.com's own Pete Prisco that Smith wasn't on the hot seat after random rumors started springing up that Smith could be in trouble.
Blank went on to make some salient points, citing Smith's multiple Coach of the Year Awards, Dimitroff's pair of Executive of the Year Awards and the "back-to-back-to-back-to-back winning seasons" after "42 years of not having back-to-back winning seasons."
I mean, really. Smith has made the playoffs three of his four years, he's posted a .672 winning percentage, and he's averaged more than 10 wins per season since he took over the Falcons in 2008, when the franchise appeared to be in shambles. What, exactly, do people want?
Ah, right. Playoff wins. The Falcons have lost three playoffs games in four years, but no one likes to point out they've lost to either the eventual Super Bowl champ (twice) or the eventual NFC champ (once). That would make too much sense.
But winning playoff games is also something that needs to happen in order to justify Matt Ryan's place in the quarterback hierarchy, which is something Blank understands all too well.
"I think that Matt is certainly one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. I think that most people would put him the top 10 in the league," Blank said. "Frankly, he knows this, as well as our fan base knows it, to get to that top four or five, we have to win some playoff games. Matt clearly understands that."
See, this is where the "is Mike Smith's job on the line" questions come from. An owner wanting to win playoff games doesn't equate to anything other than just that. All owners want to win playoff games. Putting a coach who wins double-digit games on an annual basis on notice because he lacks one playoff win in four years is silly. So is worrying about Ryan -- people said the same thing about Aaron Rodgers before and during 2010 and that worked out just fine.
But the chatter won't stop until Atlanta actually pulls of that playoff win. With a new-look offense and defense, there's good reason to think this is the year it happens.
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