The brain trust of the Atlanta Falcons was given a vote of confidence Monday, albeit a tepid one.
The team announced that head coach Mike Smith, general manager Thomas Dimitroff and president and CEO Rich McKay all received contract extensions from the club on the heels of a disappointing 4-12 campaign.
The Falcons noted that McKay signed a four-year add-on to his deal through May 2019. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Dimitroff and Smith inked mere one-year extensions, per a team source. That keeps Smith under lock and key through 2015, but the subtext is clear: Despite a 60-36 regular-season mark over six years, his 1-4 postseason record and this year’s nosedive have Smith under pressure to win again right away.
The Falcons still have plenty of talent on an offense that includes quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones, but the loss of Tony Gonzalez and problems along the offensive line suggest Atlanta is no sure bet to rebound to double-digit wins. Especially with a defense lacking difference-makers at every level.
While the pressure on Smith is palpable, it’s hard to imagine the Falcons deciding to part ways with Dimitroff. He remains one of the league’s brightest young general managers and, besides, he was given the power last week to hire his longtime friend Scott Pioli as part of a plan to quickly mend the depth chart and fill holes before next season.
Still, this is the NFL. Every coach and front-office hire knows he’s one horrific campaign away from the bread line. One-year extensions don’t impart much confidence, but reversing that 4-12 record next season will put all insecurities to bed.