Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jones, Reeves Enter the Pink (Slip) Zone

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jones, Reeves Enter the Pink (Slip) Zone

Article excerpt

The Atlanta Falcons started over again Monday, firing coach June Jones after a 3-13 season that kept alive the team's streak of never having back-to-back winning records.

Team president Taylor Smith, whose family has owned the franchise since it was founded 31 years ago, vowed to hire a proven winner as coach or general manager and give that person total control of the franchise.

Jones, who had a 19-29 record in three seasons as coach, met with his players in Suwanee, Ga., for less than five minutes after Smith told him that he was being fired with two years left on his contract. Jones was equally terse with the media, refusing to answer questions in a brief news conference. "I'm thankful for the opportunity the Smiths gave me," said Jones, who was in his first head coaching job. "I had a good time while I was here, but it just didn't work out. That's the nature of this business. Hopefully, the next guy will have better luck." The players were hardly surprised by the decision, which came less than 24 hours after the Falcons lost their season finale at Jacksonville, 19-17, when Morten Andersen missed a 30-yard field goal with four seconds left. Atlanta has a 175-284-5 record in the regular season since it entered the league in 1966. The .377 winning percentage is better than only one team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Jones, 43, who guided the Falcons to only their fifth playoff berth in 1995, endured a tumultuous season that included a sideline argument with quarterback Jeff George in the third game. George was suspended after that incident and eventually released, which meant the Falcons got nothing in return for a player who cost them two No. 1 draft picks. Forced to go with journeyman Bobby Hebert at quarterback and saddled with one of the league's worst defenses, Atlanta lost its first eight games. And the second half of the season included a humiliating 59-16 rout by the Rams and a 34-10 loss to San Francisco in a Monday night game. …

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