Falcons to hire Smith as head coach

Jan 23, 2008 - 8:00 PM ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Mike Smith evidently will be faced with the task of turning around the Atlanta Falcons.

Smith will be hired as the Falcons' new head coach Wednesday, according to a report on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's web site.

Citing team sources close to the situation, the newspaper reported that Smith and the Falcons currently are negotiating terms of a contract.

The Falcons likely will officially name Smith as their new coach at a news conference later Wednesday.

Smith, 48, has spent the last five years as the defensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars, overseeing a defense which ranked 12th in the NFL this past regular season.

In Atlanta, Smith will undertake the daunting challenge of reviving a Falcons team reeling from arguably the worst season in franchise history.

In addition to quarterback Michael Vick landing in jail on federal dogfighting charges, the Falcons endured a coaching change during the season when Bobby Petrino unceremoniously walked away after 13 games to take the Arkansas job.

The Falcons went 4-12 this season, finishing last in the NFC South Division and placing 29th in the league in total defense.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank began the rebuilding process January 13 when he hired Thomas Dimitroff as the team's new general manager.

The former director of college scouting for the New England Patriots, Dimitroff has been orchestrating an extensive search for a new head coach.

The Falcons reportedly also have shown interest in Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and Pete Carroll, the current head coach at the University of Southern California.

But Atlanta evidently has chosen Smith, who worked closely under the defensive-minded Jack Del Rio for the past five years in Jacksonville. The Jaguars ranked second in total defense in 2006 and placed sixth the previous season.

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