Falcons owner Blank backs Smith, Dimitroff

TAMPA, Fla. — Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank spoke about the state of the team for the first time this season and expressed confidence in both coach Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff moving forward.

As his team dropped to 2-8 with Sunday’s 41-28 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Blank briefly addressed the media.

“We love our head coach and we love our general manager,” Blank said. “It’s up to them to candidly look at everybody — candidly, honestly, critically — and see what we have to do. There should be nobody that escapes that critique. That’s their job, and I have confidence they’ll do it. And they are doing it. And they will do it.”

Blank was asked to describe the most disheartening part about this season after watching the Falcons go 13-3 a year ago and make it to the NFC Championship Game.

“The old days, the Atlanta Falcons were going up and down every year — 36 years — so we’ve had five great years — second-most wins in the league,” Blank said. “Obviously what’s disheartening is this year, when you’re sitting at 2-8 with the expectations that were reasonable coming into this year. It’s very disappointing for our fans [and] for everybody connected to the franchise.”

Blank said the current state of the team has no bearing on the new stadium plans.

Blank again expressed support for Smith and Dimitroff when pressed on whether he had complete confidence in them.

“I absolutely do,” Blank said. “They’ve earned it over the last five years. This is a tough business, and we’ve had a lot of injuries. [There have] been a lot of other issues on top of the injuries, and that’s pretty obvious.

“These guys are proven leaders and proven by success and proven by their record. They’ll do the work that has to be done, with my full support. We’ll get back to what we have to do.”

Smith said he appreciated Blank’s support.

“It means a whole lot,” Smith said. “It means a whole lot to have the support of Arthur, Thomas, Rich [McKay] — knowing that we’re not playing the type of football that we need to play. And they are very supportive.”

The Falcons, with six games remaining, can finish no better than 8-8. It will mark the first time the Falcons will finish .500 or below since Smith took over in 2008.

“We’ve got to do a better job,” Smith said. “We’ve got to do a better job coaching. We’ve got to do a better job executing. And, like I said, we are all responsible for it. Don’t point fingers in one direction — we are all responsible.”

  • Covered Bears for seven seasons at Chicago Tribune
  • Also worked at Chicago Sun-Times, Fresno Bee
  • Honorable mention, Football Writers Association of America for enterprise writing, 2002

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