There comes a point in every football season when aspirations for trips to the playoff become unlikely. Sitting at 2-7 on the season, there are plenty that say the Falcons aren’t headed to the playoffs, a trip they’ve made in four of the last five seasons, but Falcons head coach Mike Smith said Monday that nothing changes about this season in terms of the team’s preparation and goals for each individual game.
“Our No. 1 goal each and every week is to win the football game,” Smith said. “We’ve got to do that and as I said yesterday, we owe that to our team, we owe that to our fans, we owe that to everyone associated with the Atlanta Falcons. This season is not over. I know people want to say ‘doom and gloom.’ That’s not the case.”
Stranger things have happened in a football season and the history of the NFL is littered with 9-7 teams making the playoffs. On the surface, after three straight double-digit losses, it would appear that Atlanta isn’t headed for a third straight playoff appearance this year, but the team has adopted a game-to-game attitude all season and that won’t change now. Smith said they will resume work this week and seek their third win of the season on the road against Tampa.
“We’ve not played the type of football that we would like to play in the first nine games,” the head coach said. “It is well below our expectations and we are going to continue to work and get ready to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.”
While injuries have placed rookies into starting roles this season, Smith said there is no plan to give younger players more snaps in an effort to scout the roster in advance of the upcoming offseason. Smith said the amount of playing time players receive will continue to be about what happens each week in practice.
“I don’t think that any time do you want to not try to win the football game, but we will take a good, hard look and have competition in practice,” Smith said. “The person that wins the competition in practice will have the opportunity to play in the football game. We’re not going to make wholesale changes and say we’re going to play this guy because of what our record is at this time.”
Playoffs or not, Smith said following Sunday’s game, the Falcons will continue to try to win each game. As a representative of the city of Atlanta, the Falcons franchise and the fans of the organization, playing for anything other than a win each week is out of the question and they will continue to put their best 11 players on the field to start getting wins.
“We’re going to go out there and try to score every opportunity we can,” Smith said Sunday evening. “That is the competitor in me, that is the competitor in this organization and that is the competitor in the players that are out there playing. “