INDIANAPOLIS — Fourth-and-short is a slippery slope for NFL coaches, something Mike Smith knows all too well. He was 0-for-3 in critical fourth-and-short situations last season, including two failed QB sneaks in the Falcons’ playoff loss to the Giants.
But Smith remains undeterred, telling the media assembled Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine that he’ll “remain very aggressive” in such situations.
“I still have a strong belief in short yardage,” Smith said. “Statistically, you should be able to convert. Unfortunately, we didn’t. When it doesn’t work, it’s not a good call. When it works, it’s a great call.
“Believe me, we do a critical analysis of everything that we do, and fourth down-and-1 was at the top of my list this year, I can assure you.”
Michael Turner likely will continue to play a major part in that approach, but Smith said he’s reevaluating how he uses his featured back, acknowledging that the wear and tear on runners today is “unbelievable.”
“I think the thing we have to do as Michael gets a little older is we have to start putting him on a pitch count in terms of the number of carries,” Smith said. “Michael has over the last four years been a guy that’s had over 300 carries, and I think it’s very important.
“We want to keep him as our featured back, but we definitely need to make sure that we get some of the other guys some carries as well.”
— Aron Angel