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Mike Smith assured of coaching Atlanta Falcons in 2014

For the second time since 1999, the Atlanta Falcons have gone from a conference title game appearance to eight losses in the first 10 games of the following season. Over that span, they are the only franchise to suffer that ignominy.

Although the Falcons have devolved into the NFL's second-least competitive team behind the Jacksonville Jaguars, coach Mike Smith's track record is keeping him off the hot seat.

Several sources familiar with the situation tell NFL Media columnist Michael Silver that Smith has been personally assured by owner Arthur Blank that he will return as head coach for the 2014 season. That job security goes for two-time NFL Executive of the Year Thomas Dimitroff as well.

Silver's report backs up Dimitroff's insistence after a Week 10 loss to the Seahawks that Smith is "going nowhere."

After last week's debacle at Tampa Bay, Blank expressed confidence that Smith and Dimitroff can right the ship next season once Julio Jones and Roddy White get back to full health.

"I do. I absolutely do. They've earned it over the last five years," Blank explained. "This is a tough business ... The guys are proven leaders and proven by success. Their records speak for themselves. They'll do the work that has to be done with my full support."

Dimitroff has faced criticism for his unwillingness to consider a Tony Gonzalez trade before last month's deadline, but one Falcons source tells Silver the Falcons simply weren't ready to throw in the towel on the 2013 season.

"If that had happened," the source said, "it would have sent a horrible signal to our fans -- and to our team -- that we were giving up."

The Falcons haven't given up, but the Jones injury marks the transformation between hopeful contender to possible No. 1 overall draft pick.

Before the Falcons lost Jones, all four losses went down to the game's final possession. Since losing Jones, all four losses have been blowouts.

Smith and Dimitroff will have to oversee major construction projects on the offensive and defensive lines, but they have to be buoyed by the 2014 return of Jones -- and perhaps the addition of a game-changing defensive player such as South Carolina's Jadaveon Clowney or UCLA's Anthony Barr.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" previewed "Thursday Night Football" and "stuck a fork" in three unlucky teams.

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