After three playoff losses in his four-year career in Atlanta, speculation during this offseason — on the heels of a 24-2 loss to the New York Giants in the wild card round of the playoffs — has been rampant about head coach Mike Smith's future with the Falcons.
The term "hot seat" has come up several times to describe a future that from the outside looks tenuous, despite leading Atlanta to its first four consecutive winning seasons in the franchise's history and an overall 43-21 record — good enough for best in team history, as well.
In a column by CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco on Friday, however, that perception is hardly accurate, and that's coming straight from owner and chairman Arthur Blank.
"I think if you tell me Mike Smith is on the hot seat, then find a hot seat on the North Pole," Blank told Prisco. "That's as hot a seat as he's on. That perception is about as far from the truth as you can get."
Blank takes things a step further later in the column, stating that Smith "will be here for a long time."
Since Smith's arrival, the Falcons are the only team in the NFC to have a winning season in each of the past four years. On the all-time list of coaching wins in their first four season, Smith is only behind current Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh, former L.A. Rams head coach Chuck Knox and legendary San Francisco head coach George Seifert.
A two-time recipient of the Sporting News' Coach of the Year award, in 2008 and 2010, Smith boasts the second best home record in NFL history in his first three seasons as a head coach.
"These guys have built a team that has had sustainable success." Blank said. "I have complete faith in these guys."