Philadelphia Eagles 32, Atlanta Falcons 6?
Someday, we're all going to look back at the start of "The Arthur Smith Era'' and giggle at the insignificance of what went wrong on Sept. 12, 2021.
But for now? The NFL world isn't laughing with the Falcons. It is laughing at them.
"I did a really poor job getting us ready to go," Smith said after his head coaching debut. "I feel awful for our fans and everybody who showed up today. We'll do a better job moving forward. That game is not going to define us.''
Smith simply must be correct on that final point; a head coach who gets "defined'' by 26-point losses doesn't end up being called "a head coach'' for very long.
He might also be right about his club being ill-prepared. It's the valiant thing to say, removing the blame from players, shouldering the heat all for himself.
But maybe Smith isn't being noble here.
Maybe it is his fault.
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Let the record show that while Atlanta is expected to be a 2021 have-not, Philadelphia is in the same boat. It's a good bet that the Eagles, who also have a rookie coach and who have a QB (Jalen Hurts) with four career starts, will not over the course of the next 16 games win very many of them by 26 points.
The Falcons were penalized 12 times, so the training-camp punishment of running laps for such gaffes did not work. The numbers from QB Matt Ryan and prized pass-catchers Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts demonstrate they didn't work. The bottom line proves that new defensive coordinator Dean Pees' fresh-look philosophy didn't work, either.
Ryan said he "appreciate(s)'' Smith "taking responsibilities for those things.'' But in truth, there are no medals for admitting that 32-6 is the fault of the head coach.
Because it's obvious: 32-6 is the fault of the head coach.
Luckily, this thing will get fixed, and someday we will all look back and laugh at this inauspicious start.
READ MORE: What Went Wrong?