When he meets with the media, Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith almost always comes across as polite and not very emotional.
But he’s a football coach and you get the sense there’s a lot more inside of him. A glimpse of what a Smith pep talk to his team must look like emerged Thursday night as the Falcons held their annual State of the Franchise event. You can see the video here (skip ahead to about the 59-minute mark to see Smith get really animated).
“I’ve talked to the team about it and I’m going to share it with you as well," Smith told a crowd of several thousand fans. “I’ve heard it a lot. After I came out of a week and a half of not sleeping and not watching the Super Bowl, I heard a lot of people talking about, 'We were 10 yards away.'"
It’s well known that the Falcons were 10 yards away from the Super Bowl as a last-minute drive came up just short as Atlanta lost to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. But Smith put that close call into perspective as it pertains to the 2013 season.
"Listen folks, that was 2012," Smith said. "Our only focus right now is on 2013. We’re not 10 yards from the Super Bowl. We’re like every other team in this league fighting to get to the same place. We’re 261 days from going to New York and getting a chance to go play in that. So we’re done talking about that 10 yards. We’re moving on and looking forward, folks. It can’t get here quick enough."
Smith’s right. Although the Falcons appear loaded on paper, they have a long road ahead and they’re not starting off 10 yards from the Super Bowl.