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Season premiere of 'What will Dan do?'

The Falcons have slid back into the morass they've inhabited for their entire history — save that one magical season — and the debate over Dan Reeves' future as head coach is in full swing. Again.
Last January, NFL coaches started dropping like flies the minute the regular season ended. Because the grind got to Jets coach Bill Parcells (who, like Reeves, had undergone heart surgery), and because the Falcons stunk so thoroughly, a lot of people speculated that Reeves might hang it up, too.
He didn't. But the Falcons were no sooner 2-4 this season when the talk began again. The rhetoric turns shrill now that Bobby Ross has cashed it in in Detroit.
If you think Dan Reeves is going to do the same, you haven't been paying attention.
Is Reeves tired after 35 years of playing and coaching professional football? You bet. Tired of losing. Tired of penalties and turnovers. Tired of the Falcons making fundamental errors.
Reeves is 56. He has plenty of money. He wants to spend time with his wife, Pam, while they're still healthy enough to enjoy life. He has two brothers, a sister, and several cousins who keep talking about how great retirement is. Last Christmas, one of his cousins told him, "If it's 70 degrees, I go play golf or I go fishing. It it's below 70, I go hunting. It it's below 30, I just get another cup of coffee."
But Reeves has a job to do and he hasn't done it. Not winning the Super Bowl, necessarily, but establishing a winning tradition with the Falcons. Reeves thought he had accomplished that in 1998, and he had a right to think so. The Falcons had a great record, a Cinderella season, because they played fundamentally sound football. They played solid, aggressive defense. The offensive line was tough as nails. The running game ground it out.
They played exactly the opposite way last year, and not because they lost Jamal Anderson in the second game of the season. Sure, as NFC Champions they had a tougher schedule. But the real problem was that one good season went to their heads.
This year, the offensive line is young, and Reeves' odd personnel decisions are proving to be washouts for the most part. No one argues that he has an eye for talent, but he is a good fundamentals coach. And he has another year left on a coaching contract, not a front-office contract. That kind of commitment matters to him.
That's the reason Dan Reeves won't leave. He is determined to make this team better. Not for only one season. For good.
Hot shots: What's hot in atlanta sports
$50.02 — Average price of a ticket to an NBA game, the highest of any of the pro sports. And they wonder why there are so many empty seats.
"MY [BLEEPING] HEAD HURTS." — Chris Chandler, asked what he was thinking as he lay on the floor of the Georgia Dome after yet another sack caused yet another concussion.
IF IT WEREN'T FOR TECH ... — there'd be no decent football being played in this town.
IF IT WEREN'T FOR TECH ... — there wouldn't be much hope for basketball, either.
AND SPEAKING OF THE HAWKS — OK, they're off to the worst start in franchise history. But they don't give up in the middle of the game. That alone makes this season better than the last.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? — Can Tiger Woods live without the PGA Tour?
FANTASY LEAGUE — Who would you rather have on your team: Jeff Gordon or Jeff Burton?

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