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Mike Smith

head coach, Atlanta Falcons

Mike Smith is the current head coach for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons. He previously served as the defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars since the 2003 season. In his first season as Falcons Head Coach, Smith was recipient of the NFL Coach of the Year Award by the Associated Press. Raised in Daytona Beach, Florida, Smith played linebacker at Father Lopez Catholic High School, earning All-State honors. Collegiately, he played for East Tennessee State University between 1977 and 1981, being named defensive MVP twice. Professionally, Smith briefly played for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League for the 1982 season before retiring. Smith decided to take up coaching after his playing days were over, and would serve at several Division I colleges before moving onto the NFL: San Diego State (1982-1985), Morehead State (1986), and Tennessee Tech (1987-1998). He was hired as linebackers coach for the Baltimore Ravens in 1999, and tutored such players as Ray Lewis, Peter Boulware, Jamie Sharper, and Adalius Thomas. Smith was a part of the 2000 Ravens that captured Super Bowl XXXV. On January 21, 2003, Mike Smith was named defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars for the incoming head coach Jack Del Rio. In 2008, the Atlanta Falcons named him their Head Coach. In his first season with the team, Smith named rookie Matt Ryan the starting quarterback for the season opener against the Detroit Lions Smith was helped by players like Michael Turner, Roddy White, Michael Jenkins and John Abraham to carry the Falcons to their first playoff berth since 2004. The Falcons lost to the Arizona Cardinals in the wild-card round of the 2008 NFL playoffs. He was named the 2008 AP Coach of the year and NFL Coach of the Year beating out Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano in the voting.