There's a lot of history swirling around the Falcons right now. Last week's win gave the Falcons their first 5-0 start in franchise history. Quarterback Matt Ryan seemingly breaks franchise records just by stepping on the field. Tight end Tony Gonzalez is one touchdown away from 100 in his career, making him one of eight players in league history to accomplish the feat.
Perhaps most exciting of all is the next win that will come for head coach Mike Smith. Already a holder of a number of records with the team, the 6th win of the season will give Smith 50 in his head coaching career with the Falcons. That will make him the winningest coach in Falcons history, after just five years on the job.
But no one in Atlanta's locker room is thinking about history right now. They've maintained a singular focus on the next game and they players and coaching staff have made sure they've found things to work on week after week. Finding faults in the details has kept them motivated.
"I think the thing is as long as we can keep saying 'win one more and get to the next one,' (we'll be OK)," center Todd McClure said. "I think the biggest thing is we've got a lot of areas we can improve in and we're still winning ball games. I think as long as we peak at the right time, we're going to have some fun things happen this year."
Smith has opted out of questions regarding his 50th win and what it might mean to him, continuing to say he's focused only on Oakland and win No. 6. On Wednesday, however, he shared some head coaching tactics that have helped him be so successful in Atlanta.
"In terms of a head coach, there's different philosophies, but I believe in you hire an offensive coordinator, a defensive coordinator and a special teams coordinator," Smith said. "They can devote so much more time than you can to looking at the offense, defense and special teams. You allow those guys, with the staff, to work with the guys. I don't believe in micro-managing. I believe you have to have a macro view. When you are a position coach, or a coordinator, you've got to have a micro view. You can only concern yourself with one thing and not really worry about anything else. I've been very fortunate to have a great staff, guys around me that do a great job in preparing their groups."
The respect for Smith is evident up and down the roster and hard work and fun permeates the entire locker room. There's a sense the players would like to get this win for Smith to put his name on top of the franchise record books and keep adding wins to it, though there's no added pressure to do it simply for their head coach. Just like in 2009 when players were clearly playing to put behind them and the franchise the lack of back-to-back winning seasons, these Falcons would like to get this one "Smitty", but the simple point remains that it's still the next win in a string of what they hope is many.
Regardless of when the win comes, the Falcons will be honored to help Smith achieve it.
"Coach Smith is a heck of a coach, especially off the field," safety William Moore said. "He really gets into your personal life; he wants to know what's going on, in a good way. He's really a coach. He comes (into the meeting room), I can speak for the defensive backs, and pulls the paper out and says 'This is what we're doing'. He's really a coach, not just a head coach that walks around eating sunflower seeds. He really gets after it. He deserves everything he's been doing. I've been here since the beginning. I'm looking forward to (the future) and the things that we're doing around here."