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Falcons name new head coach

Jan. 23, 2008 at 10:04 PM

ATLANTA, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Jacksonville defensive coordinator Mike Smith became the new head coach of the Atlanta Falcons Wednesday.

"Mike possesses all of the key qualities we were looking for in a head coach," Atlanta General Manager Thomas Dimitroff said. "Among them, he has strong experience with winning teams, a track record of success, a solid, smart approach to the game, and high character and integrity."

The Falcons suffered through a difficult 2007 season, during which quarterback Michael Vick went to prison for his role in a dogfighting ring.

Bobby Petrino began the season as the Falcons' coach, but he left the team after 13 games to take the head coaching job at the University of Arkansas. Emmitt Thomas took over on an interim basis and the Falcons finished at 4-12.

Baltimore defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, Minnesota defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo reportedly were all considered for the Atlanta job.

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