Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff expressed his support for head coach Mike Smith amid rumors that Jon Gruden may be interested in taking over the franchise, ESPN reports. The Falcons fell to 2-7 on the season after a blowout 33-10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
Dimitroff, via ESPN:
"Mike Smith is a hell of a football coach; he's the leader of this team," Dimitroff told ESPN.com. "Mike's going nowhere."
Atlanta's season may be in the tank, but Smith's success since taking over the Falcons in 2008 should give him some grace. The Falcons have made the playoffs in four of the last five seasons. Last year, the team went 13-3 to earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC heading into the playoffs, and made the NFC Championship Game where they lost to the San Francisco 49ers, 28-24.
The Falcons have been plagued by injuries this season, particularly on offense where Julio Jones, Roddy White and Steven Jackson have all suffered season-ending or long-term injuries. A typically high-powered Falcons offense currently ranks 18th in the NFL in total offense.
Tight end Tony Gonzalez was also supportive of Smith after the loss to the Seahawks.
Via ESPN, again:
"I know the NFL is a performance-driven business, but it seems like people don't look at your body of work," Gonzalez said. "They always want to know, 'What have you done for me lately?' But if you look at what Coach Smith has done since he's been here ... obviously last year, we were in the NFC Championship Game.
"We have a lot of injuries this year -- key injuries. And it's hard to win like that. So I don't think he deserves any type of blame."