EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Former Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith today became the sixth candidate to interview for the vacant Giants’ head coaching position.
The 56-year-old Smith coached the Falcons from 2008-14. He was 66-46 (.589) in the regular season and 1-4 in the postseason, including a 24-2 loss to the Giants in a 2011 NFC Wild Card game. In his first five seasons, Smith’s Falcons were 56-24 (.700), won two NFC South titles and earned four postseason berths. Atlanta advanced to the 2012 NFC Championship game but lost to San Francisco, 28-24. He was selected the Sporting News NFL Coach of the Year in 2008, 2010 and 2012.
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Smith reached the 50-win milestone in 71 games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he needed the third-fewest games since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to accomplish the feat. Only George Seifert (62 games) and Chuck Knox (65 games) reached 50 wins faster than Smith during that time.
Smith was the first coach in Falcons history to produce back-to-back winning seasons (2008-09), and he was the first Atlanta coach to lead the team to three consecutive playoff appearances (2010-12).
The Falcons were a combined 10-22 in Smith’s final two seasons as head coach.
Smith has coached for 33 seasons, including 16 in the NFL. Prior to joining the Falcons, he was the Jacksonville Jaguars’ defensive coordinator from 2003-07.
Smith entered the NFL in 1999 as a defensive assistant/defensive line coach with the Baltimore Ravens, positions he held for three seasons. In 2002, he coached the Ravens’ linebackers.
A former linebacker at East Tennessee State, Smith began his coaching career as an assistant at San Diego State from 1982-85, the last three years as linebackers coach. After spending the 1986 season at Morehead State, Smith moved to Tennessee Tech for 12 years, the last three as defensive coordinator.
Smith is the third Giants candidate with prior NFL head coaching experience. The others are Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo (St. Louis, 2009-11) and Jacksonville assistant head coach/offensive line coach Doug Marrone (Buffalo, 2013-14), who interviewed on Saturday.
Offensive coordinators Ben McAdoo of the Giants and Adam Gase of the Chicago Bears, and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin of the Detroit Lions also interviewed for the position. Gase was named the Miami Dolphins’ new coach on Saturday.
The Giants’ opening was created last week when Tom Coughlin announced he was stepping down after 12 seasons as the team’s head coach.
5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MIKE SMITH
By Dan Salomone
1. Smith is the all-time wins leader as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, serving for seven years from 2008-14 and compiling a record of 66-46 (.589) in the regular season. His teams went 1-4 in the postseason, and one of the losses was to the Giants’ in the wild card round of their Super Bowl XLVI championship run. Smith was released from his contract on Dec. 29, 2014.
2. Smith was named the Sporting News Coach of the Year in 2008, 2010 and 2012, as well as the Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year in 2008.
3. Smith led Atlanta to five winning seasons and four playoff berths. He posted a pair of 13-win seasons in 2010 and 2012 to earn the NFC’s top seed twice in three seasons. He became the first coach in franchise history to produce back-to-back winning seasons (2008-09) and the first Falcons coach to lead his team to three consecutive playoff appearances (2010-12).
4. With a background in defense, Smith was the defensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2003-07 prior to taking over in Atlanta. Before that, he coached for four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, first as a defensive assistant/defensive line coach (1999-2001) and then as their linebackers coach in 2002. That season, the Ravens featured All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis and Pro Bowl linebacker Peter Boulware.
5. Before joining the NFL ranks, Smith spent 12 seasons at Tennessee Tech from 1987–1999, working his way up from defensive line coach to special teams coordinator and then to defensive coordinator. He also was an assistant at Morehead St. (1986) and San Diego State (1982-85). Smith played college football at East Tennessee (1977–1981).