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Jeff SchultzJeff Schultz

Falcons may see tougher Mike Smith in ’14

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Falcons coach Mike Smith was candid about the team's weaknesses. (Kent Johnson, AJC)

Mike Smith was candid about the Falcons’ weaknesses. (Kent Johnson, AJC)

I’ve posted a column on MyAJC.com on my Tuesday conversation with Falcons coach Mike Smith. Having spoken to the man a few hundred times since his hiring in 2008, I can attest he was as candid as he has ever been. (Going 4-12 last season after a string of winning seasons might left him believing there was little reason to hold back.)

Smith didn’t talk about specific players. But he admitted he saw warning signs about the team’s offensive and defensive lines as far back as training camp in July and August, particularly when the Falcons held practices against the Cincinnati Bengals in Flowery Branch.

He also admitted that he didn’t take some of the team’s obvious shortcomings as seriously as he should have, probably stemming from the fact the Falcons went 13-3 the year before and reached the NFC title game.

“When you’re winning, like we were in 2013, things get overlooked,” he said.

Smith is entering his seventh season with the Falcons, making him the NFL’s seventh-longest tenured coach. He acknowledged that sometimes the same message from the same coach can get stale over a long period, and he might have to do something more to get his players’ attention. He also will strive to end the “myth” that he’s not tough enough on his players.

“Do I have to kick ass more? I think I have to dispel some myths: Mike Smith is not a nice guy,” he said.

There’s a lot more in the column. You can click here to give it a read. Thanks.

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