The problem takeitdown, which I'm sure I, you, and others have said many times before now is that for these things to happen, it's goign to take a complete philosophical overhaul within the Falcons organization. And it's something that I've only recently embraced in the past few years because I used to be one of those people that said, we didn't need to dump Michael Jenkins or replace him because we were good enough. That was myself, and this organization embracing mediocrity.
The question is: Is Smitty too conservative for his own good?
There is nothing wrong with being conservative. But there is a threshold you can cross where IMO your conservatism can actually hurt you. And as I've said numerous times before, I think that factor is what kept teams coached by Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy, John Fox, Jeff Fisher, and Marty Schottenheimer from being able to reach their full potential on a yearly basis. And by that, I mean being able to compete for a championship on an annual basis.
And by this team's actions, inactions, etc. over the past two years, it's becoming increasingly apparent to me that Smitty may fall into that category. It doesn't stop them from winning games during the regular season, but it makes it harder for them to win in the postseason. Which is very frustrating because the Falcons are quickly becoming the San Diego Chargers of the NFC.
Yeah, I actually think it's a big problem. It makes it harder for me to get excited about the team. A lot of people are big into the "well we won didn't we" philosophy in the regular season. I never have been. I'd rather lose with 2 fluke interceptions, but with 6 yards per carry, and 9 yards per attempt, and a grand defensive performance, than win on the other side of that battle. And that's because if I see all of that dominance, I know the flukes won't keep happening, and that's a team that can be modified just a touch to contend in the postseason. It's why I'm not as giddy over ugly wins as some...I'm always looking at what does how you played say about who you are as a team right now?
I think Smitty has been content to stay on schedule, keep it close, and rely on the other team to mess up. Which will, as we've discussed, make you a solid 8-8 to 12-4 team depending on schedule, but will leave you flat against good teams and in the playoffs.
My hope (though not my belief) is that Dimi understands this, and pushes in that direction, and that Smith's 4th down bravado signals that he's not so conservative, and can move in that direction. But, as I said, it's not what I actually think.
My more realistic hope is that they realize they need to be able to stretch a defense more, even though they cling to the run game. That's why I've advocated the 2TE/2WR 1 RB personnel for this offense. I think Smith could feel they're still a power team, but could still stress a defense in the pass game. I prefer 11 personnel myself, but I figure the above is more what Smith might bridge to. And I think that's good enough to make it a really good team.
But I do think now is the time Smith has to declare to himself and the world (through coaches/schemes, not words) that he's not MartyBall deluxe. He needs to show he can adjust to the world as it is in the NFL and roll from there.
But I am concerned he's too conservative, and that (combined with what that seems to do to our personnel shopping) has made it much more difficult to be excited about the Falcons the last 2 years. I love seeing them in the playoffs, but I don't define being a contender as being in the playoffs, but rather being a team who could win it all...and those are two very different things. The Falcons team who looked the most like they could win it all was the one with Ryan as a rookie, when Turner was running like mad, and Ryan was completing deep passes. So I've liked the winning seasons, but I haven't once felt like we were a better than 50% shot to beat a playoff team except for that first year. I want to see the team that makes me think "if we bring our A game, no one's beating us" not the team that makes me think "well, if we play perfectly, and the other team brings their C game, we can win."