NEW ORLEANS - There was no anger or panic in Arthur Blank’s voice as he reflected on the Atlanta Falcons’ season.
The owner watched as his team came up 10 yards short of getting to the Super Bowl for only the second time in franchise history. Blank’s not happy, but he’s not ready to start firing people.
“It certainly was a very disappointing conclusion to a great season,’’ Blank said Friday while visiting the Super Bowl media center. “I love where the organization is. I love the work that (general manager) Thomas (Dimitroff) and (coach Mike Smith) have done together over the last five years. I think that’s produced a lot of wins for us. But we’re not where we need to be. Smitty would be the first to say that and Thomas would be right at his side saying that. We’re not going to be happy until we’re playing in the Super Bowl and winning the Super Bowl.’’
The Falcons went 13-3 and won in the postseason for the first time in the Smith-Dimitroff era when they defeated Seattle in the divisional round. That victory might have pacified Blank.
But what I heard from Blank made me think he’s an owner who realizes he has a good coach and general manager in place and they have the Falcons close to where they want to be. I don’t think the Falcons are going to simply stand still, but I don’t think you’re going to see the kind of panicked moves we’ve seen from other owners when their teams have been coming up short of where they want to be.
I think Blank is more patient than he was in his early days as an NFL owner. He desperately wants to win a Super Bowl. But he also is smart enough to trust that his coach and general manager might need to make only a few tweaks.
“I think what’s important for now is we have created a sustainable winning organization,’’ Blank said. “We have a team that’s in the mix every year. We have a tremendously talented team on both sides of the ball. We’ll evaluate how to get better. For us, the playoff victory was an enjoyable experience and I think it will be an important experience for us going forward. I feel like we have a lot of the pieces in place. It’s a matter of continuing to fine tune and evaluate to get to where we want to be.’’