New Falcons coach Mike Smith has his ATL team at 4-2, matching ATL's total wins for all of last season.
More importantly, he's revived the team's spirit, which was badly damaged after the Michael Vick crisis and the abrupt departure of former coach Bobby Petrino.
To help jumpstart the process, Coach Smith created an "Over 30 Club" -- made up of the 11 veteran players on the Falcons' roster who are 30-years-old or older -- "to meet with them regularly to discuss anything they had on their minds, from practice schedules to the overall mood of the team."
According to this article, after the first meeting of the group (which took place in Coach Smith's office), "The grateful players went back and forth with the coach on a few topics, goofed on one another in the process and left the room blown away by what had just gone down."
Said one member of the "Over 30 Club":
“Twice a month Coach Smith gets the older guys together and lets us know what’s going on and what he’s thinking. He entrusts the team to those veteran leaders, and he lets us sell his system to the young guys and patrol the locker room. It’s nice to be able to go up there and have that relationship with the man in charge.”
Coach Smith's positive persona and coaching style has also helped energize the Falcons and change the organization's culture. As the author puts it:
"Through the tenets of positive thinking and open communication, [Coach Smith] has turned a once miserable workplace into a fruitful one."
Said Coach Smith, who assembled a veteran coaching staff that's understands the importance of teaching and stresses solid fundamentals:
“I’m a very communicative guy, and I want my players to communicate with me as well. We’ve tried to focus on camaraderie, teamwork, resolve and positive energy. It’s kind of a novel thing, huh?
One of the things I say to the team is, ‘Rules without interaction will lead to rebellion.’ You’ve got to have interaction – that’s just being a good person, and it’s important in any business.
There’s got to be a time for some levity, enjoyment and having fun. If you can’t do that around each other, it’s hard to be successful.”