Arthur Smith is not always as patient as he needs to be or certainly wants people to think he is. He’ll preach positivity to his players after losses and remind fans and media to have perspective, even when somebody effectively screams, “We stink, and I blame you and everybody who looks like you!” But, yes, sometimes he has weak moments and loses patience in Year 1 of this process.

“It’s human nature,” the Falcons’ head coach said. “I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’ve gotten frustrated. We want to win soon. We expect it. As dumb as it may sound, 6-7 would sound pretty good, based on our current situation.”

Smith said this the other day when the Falcons were 5-7, and he’s right. Because after Sunday’s 29-21 win over the Carolina Panthers elevated Atlanta to within a game of .500 — hardly the line of demarcation for Super Bowl contenders — it’s pretty good.

It’s remarkable, really. Because what shouldn’t be lost by anybody is this team is playing with a team comprised of more than half of relative minimum-waged players and has churned through 64 players on the 53-man roster to get to this point.

The Falcons are 6-7, and they are in an actual playoff race, and even if the obvious counterpoint to this is, “Well, they haven’t really beaten, anybody,” that completely misses the point, which is … Atlanta is the team that all of those other teams were supposed to beat.

It’s a credit to the players. It’s a credit to general manager Terry Fontenot for picking players who won’t unravel in adversity (too often a Falcons trademark). But mostly it’s a credit to Smith. He’s a head coach for the first time in his life. The Falcons have had a few horrible performances this season, but Smith has accomplished what he needed to most in his first season — built mental and physical toughness needed to win games and resilience to rebound from bad performances.

That was lost under Dan Quinn.

“He doesn’t let us get down,” running back Mike Davis said. “He makes sure we know exactly what we’re doing. … He shows us our mistakes and how easily they can be changed. He shows us how we can be better and how it looks. He makes sure we’re not down. He keeps us upbeat.”