Well, that didn’t take long.
Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith turned to goo after just one game this season.
Instead of taking responsibility for blowing a 16-point, fourth-quarter lead to the New Orleans Saints at home in Atlanta on Sunday, Smith blamed the media.
It’s the oldest trick in the book. By all accounts, bush league.
If Falcons owner Arthur Blank was serious about fixing his team and its culture, he’d fire Smith for going that route after an improbable loss.
It tells you where your coach’s head is. He’s more focused on stories written about his team than how to fix it.
The media is the least of a team’s worries. A story in the newspaper or on a website isn’t going to change a team’s fortune.
And in ripping the press, we are still waiting to hear a coach say that the reason a team won a championship is because of all the great coverage from sportswriters that season.
Silly? Of course. Just like Smith’s comments.
On script, the Falcons had an epic meltdown. They dominated most of the game, only to let the Saints steal a sure victory in the final quarter.
Did Smith blame his coaching? Or the offense that stalled in the second half? Or the defense that had more holes in it in the fourth quarter than a golf course?
No, the reason the Falcons were on the wrong end of another epic collapse (remember that Super Bowl vs. the Patriots) was because of what the media wrote months ago.
Yes, these stories written on laptops by sportswriters are the reason the Falcons are, well, the Falcons.
“You guys wrote our obituary back in May,” Smith said after Atlanta’s ugly 27-26 loss to the Saints. You’ll continue to write our obituary. Who cares?”
Apparently, it’s Smith.
He should be concerned that the Saints won despite having a new coach and a bunch of players coming back from injuries. And on the road, no less.
This should have been a win all day.
But the Falcons, famous for historic collapses — none bigger than when they blew a 28-3, second-half advantage and lost the Super Bowl to the New England Patriots in 2017 — allowed a shocking 17 points in the fourth quarter.
Saints’ kicker Will Lutz won the game with a 51-yard field goal. It capped the Saints’ march from their own 20-yard line with just 48 seconds left and no timeouts.
Yes, it was the media that played piss-poor defense at the end of the game, including that 40-yard pass from Saints’ QB James Winston.
Instead of giving Falcons fans some insight as to what went wrong at the end, Smith continued to talk about the media.
Coaches can’t honestly believe that reporters care about whether a team wins or loses.
The media is there for the fans. Since the fans can’t ask what happened, the media is there to do it. It’s simple.
“Write whatever y’all want,” Smith said. “Same guys that ranked us 45th.
“You buried us in May, bury us again. We don’t care. We’ll get back to work.”
For sure, Smith, in his second season at the helm, must be feeling a lot of pressure. The Falcons are trying to win games after moving on from longtime QB Matt Ryan. Marcus Mariota is the new starting quarterback and was hardly impressive. He had no TDs and 215 passing yards for a quarterback rating of 79.7
Smith came over to the Falcons last season after being the Tennessee Titans’ offensive coordinator. In his first season in ATL, his team went 7-10 and didn’t make the postseason.
And that was the prediction for this team again — it would struggle and fail to make the playoffs.
Smith calls it writing an obit or burying the team. It’s called analysis. That’s what reporters do, try to figure out if a team has everything it needs and whether it will excel and make the playoffs.
Smith is truly barking up the wrong tree. So many coaches have tried to go after the media in this way. It always backfires.
Shame on Smith.