Falcons Hire Arthur Smith As Head Coach

Arthur Smith accepted the Falcons’ offer to become their head coach. The Falcons announced Friday afternoon they have hired the Titans offensive coordinator.

After two years as Tennessee’s OC, Smith received widespread interest. Every team with a head coaching vacancy reached out to the young coach for an interview. The Falcons landed him and will move forward with the breakout play-caller in charge.

Tennessee’s tight ends coach prior to being promoted in 2019, Smith will become the second straight Titans OC to make the leap to a head coaching job. The Packers hired Matt LaFleur in 2019, but Smith’s Titans work exceeded his predecessor’s. Ryan Tannehill revived his career under Smith, posting a historic 9.6 yards-per-attempt figure in 2019 and finishing with a 33-7 TD-INT ratio this season. Both years ended with Titans playoff berths, and each involved Derrick Henry rushing championships.

Riding their retooled offense, the Titans made a run to the 2019 AFC championship game. Henry became the first player to win back-to-back rushing titles since LaDainian Tomlinson in the 2000s, and the 2020 rushing champ’s 2,027-yard performance ranks fifth all time. After making just one playoff berth between 2009-18, the Titans went 2-for-2 in postseason qualification during Smith’s two seasons as their OC. Smith, 38, began his NFL coaching career as a low-level assistant in Washington in 2007 but was with the Titans since 2011.

This will mark a change for the Falcons, who have used defensive-oriented head coaches throughout Matt Ryan‘s career. Atlanta hired Mike Smith in 2008 and Dan Quinn in 2015. Smith will now oversee the final chapter of Ryan’s Falcons career. After an MVP season under Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta’s 2016 NFC championship season, Ryan has not made a Pro Bowl since.

The Falcons remain in search of a GM, though former GM Rich McKay played a key role in hiring Smith. Both Atlanta power brokers will now turn their attention to bringing in Thomas Dimitroff‘s successor. The Falcons are believed to be favoring Saints GM Terry Fontenot for that job. This new regime will be tasked with restoring the Falcons to contender status. They fell well off the pace late in Quinn’s tenure, starting 1-7 in 2019 and 0-5 this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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27 comments on “Falcons Hire Arthur Smith As Head Coach

  1. j_butte

    This picture cracks me up. It looks like he just farted and is hoping you don’t smell it.

    • arthur blank_for owner

      lol that picture alone makes me not like this hiring at all bwhahaha…..seriously tho, not a big fan of the hire lol…but hope I’m wrong

    • cubsnomore

      He looks like the guy who was the railroad workers boss in Blazing Saddles.

  2. Simmons>Russ

    Am I the only person that thinks this dudes is overrated and will suck.

    The the Titans OC for the past 2 season but what has he done? Cause Derrick Henry has been the one carrying this team. He joined them just after they went 9-7 with Marcus Mariota then they got Tannehill, AJ Brown and went 11-5 and then back to 9-7 this year.
    It’s not like this guy calls amazing plays, really improved the QB, started a new style or anything. He was fortunate to join them just as they upgrade at QB and drafted well at WR. Got them a few extra wins for a season then went back to 9-7.

    I really can’t see this guy doing much in Atlanta. I think they should’ve got someone that would work well with whoever they draft 4th overall (most likely Fields or Wilson). For me that should have been Eric Beinemy or Joe Brady or Josh McDaniels or along those lines

    • jhiphop

      You reversed the years. Though a lot of it was defense, they were 9-7 and a wild card with two playoff wins in 2019, then won their division this year at 11-5.

      • Simmons>Russ

        Sorry your correct. He joined them and didnt really improve the offence much although he got a upgrade at QB then this year improved them a little more but really I don’t think he improved them I think they let Derrick Henry do more

    • GoLandCrabs

      Matt Lafleur got the Packers job after doing much less in. Tennessee. That worked out fine.

      • Simmons>Russ

        LaFleur although I do like him. Drafted in a QB in Jordan Love in the first round which would’ve pissed off Rodgers. Rodgers then went on to have an MVP season and Jordan Love was never spoken about all year…

    • arthur blank_for owner

      there has to be something going on with Bieniemy…not interviewing well or something cuz doesn’t seem to be a front runner for any job atm….Chargers seem like a great fit for Bieniemy

    • wagner13

      I disagree and believe he is actually underrated based on the consensus negative reaction in the comment section.

      Derrick Henry is indeed a supreme talent, but there’s a reason the Titans offense was relatively ineffective until Smith took over: play action. Smith recognized the importance of keeping defenses honest and opened up the passing lanes for Tannehill. The former Dolphin hadn’t reached his ceiling with either Philbin or Gase, but Smith managed to unlock it. Despite losing Jack Conklin and adding next to nothing on offense, the Titans offense managed to actually improve. The difference between Smith and someone like Pete Carroll is that the former uses creative schemes to aid his quarterback. I understand Tannehill underachieved in the postseason game, but Ryan’s not an elite quarterback. He’s going to have his limitations and that’s the risk you take when you settle on a less than elite QB. Finally, what has Smith shown to prove he’s NOT worthy of the job? He did the most with what he had to work with and in an offense-driven league, is going to be desired by most teams. There’s a reason all teams with a vacancy offered an interview; it’s certainly not a coincidence

      • jay13

        I agree… he also was OL/TE coach before Lafleur even came to the Titans. He has defensive planning as well from his college rank days.

        Arthur Blank did not want to lose his GM’s guy. Its pretty much common knowledge that Terry Fontenot is the new GM in Atlanta. Fontenot had been linked to Smith as his coach if he received a promotion.

      • Simmons>Russ

        My problem is he took over the offence when the team was 9-7 and in his first year he didn’t improve the record yet the team went from Mariota to Tannehill and draft AJ Brown.
        Then in his second season they finally improved the record to 11-5 but that’s mainly off the back of Derrick Henry carrying for 2000 yards.
        So that’s where I disagree you said he made the most of what he had to work with. I beg to differ. I think the improvements the team made where more or less down to the players not to coaching.

        That’s why I wouldn’t have made this move.
        I like Eric Beinemy more, look at Andy Reid’s former assistants they often make good coaches. Plus look at his work with Mahomes and the Cheifs offence. He took over from Matt Nagy with the team at 10-6 with a pro bowl QB in Alex Smith, by all means a good team and now with Mahomes they are an elite team. Beinemy fully changed that offence and built it around Mahomes, also getting the best out of Travis Kelce. In his first season they lost the AFC championship to Brady and the Pats in OT who went on to win the Super Bowl, in his second season they won the super bowl and obviously now is about to play the Browns for the AFC title yet again.
        That’s what I would call making the most of what you have.

        • wagner13

          You can’t have it both ways. How is Henry solely responsible for his improvement but not Kelce? You don’t believe Henry rushing for 2000 yards at least partly has something to do with the blocking scheme (which Smith implemented)? Meanwhile, Kelce has been an elite talent for over five years. What does that have to do with Bieniemy?

          Besides, Bieniemy had the benefit of Reid as a head coach. Meanwhile, Smith had to work with Vrabel, who doesn’t know a lick about offense. I will give Eric lots of credit for developing Mahomes, but I believe an equal amount needs to be attributed to Smith for improving Tannehill (who was literally signed to be a BACKUP). Reid’s assistants are also not automatically good coaches. Doug Pederson just got canned and Matt Nagy is on the hot seat. I wouldn’t consider either one terrible, but also wouldn’t be particularly satisfied with either man at the helm.

          I will leave you with this final question: what more could Bieniemy have done if he were coaching the Titans this season?

          • Simmons>Russ

            Cause just look at how the offence was run. The Cheifs completely changed the offence going from Alex Smith and 10 wins to Mahomes. Apart of that huge change resulted in Travis Kelce being an elite receiver. Whereas the Titans didn’t do anything special, they upgraded at QB and WR which meant teams had to respect the passing game more which opens up the running game more for Henry. Not to mention Henry improved his game a lot. It’s not like Smith came in a set up a whole new offence, he just stuck to what the usual was, while the front office got in help.
            I will give him credit for blocking and his work with the o line but you don’t hire a HV because of his o line plays.

            As for Reid’s assistants, Philly won a super bowl with a back up QB I’d call him a good coach he just had a bad year. Nagy on the other hand he’s average at best.

            As for your last part, I think Bieniemy wouldn’t have done much but that’s because that system doesn’t suit Eric. Eric’s offences are based on QB play, either being dual threat or being able to throw a deal ball or something. He wouldn’t have done much with Tannehill.
            But the question should be who would suit Atlanta more.

            Atlanta will be most likely selecting a future QB (most likely Justin Fields) and having to rebuild that offence. I can see Smith maybe helping the o line a little, helping Gurley at RB if he’s hanging around. But I can’t see much. Whereas with Eric he would draft Fields and really help develop him while Matt Ryan can have 1 last season to finish his career. He would work on building an offensive scheme which would suit Fields and target players that suit his style. You’d see Fields and Calvin Ridley really do well together for many many seasons.
            That’s why I’d take Eric, not only do I think he’s better but I think he’s a much better fit

            • You’re making no sense. You give all the credit to the Titans getting Tanehill at QB and say the coach didn’t do anything. And then you act like Maholmes taking over for Alex Smith wasn’t a monumental upgrade at QB. And give all the credit to the coach and not the best QB in the NFL……

              • Simmons>Russ

                Mahokes taking over wasn’t an upgrade at the time. Smith was a pro bowl QB and Mahomes wasn’t even drafted in the top 10 from his class. It was Eric who developed him and built the offence around him.

                It would be a similar situation had Atlanta hired Eric. Draft Fields have Eric develop him for a year behind Matt Ryan and build the offence around Fields and then all of a sudden Atlanta are a force again.

            • UGA_Steve

              The KC offense was 6th in pts and 5th in yards under Nagy. Not saying it was as good, but lets be fair, the difference between Smith and Mahomes was evident immediately.

              In addition KC added Hunt before Nagy’s last year and he was just becoming full tuned up in the offense.

              As for your comments on Kelce, they are laughable .. he was only a first team All Pro player under Nagy and pro-bowler 3 times. Sure am glad the change to Bieniemy helped him become an elite receiver. Lord knows he sucked prior to that. SMH.

              • Simmons>Russ

                Your not listening to what I said. I said the team was good with Nagy and had Smith as QB who was an all pro bowl. They won 10 games that season. But then after Eric had a year to develop Mahomes he completely changed how the offence was played in a way which suited Mahomes style.
                As for Travis Kelce he was a really good TE, one of the better ones in the league for sure but now looking over his numbers he’s the best in the game not doubt, just broke the records and some are even suggesting if he continues this level he could be in the GOAT TE debate.

                All I’m saying is Eric helped develop Mahomes into what he is today, he built the chiefs offence around the young QB and allowed him to thrive and helped make him one of the best QBs in the league and the chiefs offence the best in the league. He also helped elevate others like Kelce and I think the Falcons should’ve gone for Eric and drafted Fields and built around him.

        • UGA_Steve

          Man, you need to let the record thing go. Seriously.

          Offense rankings
          2018 – 26th in points, 25th in yards
          2019 – 10th in points, 12th in yards
          2020 – 4th in points, 2nd in yards

          The last time the Titans has an offense finish in the top 10 in points prior to Smith was 2003.

          Let’s also not forget, this is the 5th season of Derrick Henry’s career. He signed a four year contract before the season and instead of packing it in like many big contract RB’s do, he was even better. That takes a player buying in to the coaching and not the duckets.

          I am not certain he will work out, but he improved the Titans offense FAR more than Bieniemy did with the Chiefs, and he did it with sub-par talent except for Henry. You keep talking about the QB upgrade, but Tannehill was thrown to the curve by the Dolphins in favor of Fitzpatrick. They even gave Osweiler a chance to take his position for crying out loud.

          I don’t know that he will turn things around, but I trust him more than Bieniemy, who doesn’t even call plays for the Chiefs. He is basically a shell for Andy Reid, just like Nagy was. Smith had total control of the offense, as Vrabel knew better.

          • Simmons>Russ

            Guess we will wait and see then. I think Smith isn’t bad I just don’t think he was the right choice. I don’t think the Falcons make the playoffs for another 4-5 years atleast. Whereas if they had hired Eric I think they would have been 3/4 years away for sure

  3. nentwigs

    The Atlanta Falcons are about to become a…………………..

    WORK OF ART !!!

  4. Ak185

    So, does this mean that Atlanta drafts Najee Harris? It would be interesting if they traded down, drafted Harris in the first, and rolled with Ryan for one more year before drafting their QB of the future. I’m not necessarily predicting this, but Ryan certainly has more in the tank (quite possibly more than two of his division rivals). In this hypothetical scenario, we do assume that the Titans’ offense is naturally what Smith wants to run. You never know, though, he may end up running a new style depending on the personnel he ends up with.

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