Of all the 2021 NFL rookie head coaches, only Brandon Staley of the Los Angeles Chargers has more wins than Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith.
Sunday's win against the Jacksonville Jaguars confirmed that the Falcons would have more wins than a year ago, and the calendar had yet to flip to December.
That doesn't mean there has been an absence of lows during the 5-6 start. Four of the team's six losses have come by more than 20 points, which has put into question how far the Falcons are from becoming a winning squad.
But, Smith said, “We’re finding ways to win games. We’re 5-2 in one-possession games. That was a big thing here. You’re trying to build a winning culture. Again, the ultimate goal is to build a sustainable football team that wins football games. So that’s what we’re trying to accomplish short-term and long-term.”
In the NFL, success is measured in winning, but it can often hide what's happening beneath the surface. The losses the Falcons have accrued this season have shown that this team has work to do and raises questions as to whether Smith is the guy for the job.
It can be argued that Smith's early wins have yet to show that he is the man for the job. But no argument here: those expectations will continue to grow the longer he develops and leads the team, and with that will come fewer doubts.
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On this episode of "Locked On Falcons," host Aaron Freeman discusses the scrutiny and pressure that Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith is under to turn the team around and start winning.
First, he discusses Deion Jones' potential return to the lineup on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (preview here) and how it impacts the matchup before diving into why he tends to avoid the "civil war" amongst Falcons fans surrounding quarterback Matt Ryan.
Then, he discusses why it's important that the team get improved play-calling in addition to a talent infusion if they hope to achieve success during Ryan's final years in Atlanta.
Finally, he breaks down the challenges that the Falcons will have to overcome from a drafting, team-building, coaching, and development standpoint to achieve success along short and long-term timelines.