Arthur Smith‘s name came up about coordinator jobs this week, though no teams were tied to the three-year Falcons HC just yet. At least one is now.
The Steelers will meet with Smith about their OC opening Sunday, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero reports. This marks Smith’s first connection to a team since the Falcons began Black Monday — at 12:01am ET — by firing him. Pittsburgh just saw Smith’s most recent employer interfere with its OC search, and Mike Tomlin will soon gauge the veteran play-caller’s fit for his team. The Steelers are preparing to hire an OC from outside the organization; they have only done this once (Todd Haley, 2012) this century.
Zac Robinson received a Steelers OC interview request, but he has instead committed to the Falcons. When Atlanta chose Raheem Morris over Bill Belichick, an immediate connection linked Robinson to following his recent Rams coworker to Georgia. That came to fruition, with the Falcons hiring the popular OC candidate. The Steelers have also interviewed Panthers OC Thomas Brown and Texans QBs coach Jerrod Johnson.
While Smith’s stock has dropped since he moved to the hot seat in Atlanta, it is not long ago he was an in-demand HC candidate. Essentially the 2021 coaching carousel’s Ben Johnson equivalent, Smith chose the Falcons. He was unable to turn the team around, but even as Atlanta conducted a rebuild effort, Smith immediately had the team at 7-10 in back-to-back seasons despite dead money piling up. The 7-10 mark the Falcons posted in 2023 looked a bit different, considering what they had invested in the team by this point. Two ugly losses — to the Bears and Saints — prompted the Falcons to fire Smith.
Smith, 41, has worked as an NFL play-caller for the past five seasons. His two-year run as Titans OC, replacing Matt LaFleur, commanded extensive interest. The Titans journeyed to the 2019 AFC championship game, re-routing their season after a 2-4 start. Smith was given appropriate credit for reviving Ryan Tannehill‘s career. Tannehill’s 9.6 yards per attempt that season remains tied for eighth all time; only Kurt Warner has bettered that mark in a season since the 1950s. Smith also unleashed Derrick Henry, with both of the bulldozing running back’s rushing titles coming during Smith’s Tennessee play-calling tenure.
The Falcons boasted the NFL’s No. 3-ranked rushing offense in 2022, largely under Marcus Mariota, but struggled consistently to pass during Mariota and Desmond Ridder‘s seasons as the primary quarterback. The Falcons ranked 26th in scoring offense this season. Considering the Steelers are again centering an offseason around Kenny Pickett development, Smith’s recent past with QBs is notable. Given Smith’s experience, however, it would surprise if he did not receive a second chance as a coordinator.