Arthur Smith has officially been hired by the Atlanta Falcons to become their new head coach. The Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator spent a decade with the organization but has been calling the offensive plays for two years. Arthur Smith becomes the 18th head coach in Falcons history, the 13th to be employed on a full-time basis (not an interim head coach.) The Atlanta Falcons fired previous head coach Dan Quinn after the team started 0-5. They also moved on from GM Thomas Dimitroff.
NFL News: Arthur Smith's background
Arthur Smith climbed the ranking through various different positions during his tenure with the Tennessee Titans. Most notably being the tight end's coach prior to becoming the teams offensive coordinator. Since becoming the Titans' offensive coordinator, the Titans have ranked 1st in red zone efficiency, 2nd in yards per play and 4th in total scoring.
While other candidates like Chiefs OC Eric Bienemy and Panthers OC Joe Brady had an offensive minded head coach at the helm, Smith is solely responsible for the play-calling and lead development of several players in his system. Most notably, Ryan Tannehill, who became a top 10 QB statistically in Arthur Smith's system and won Comeback Player of the Year in 2019.
Of course, Smith also had the pleasure of coaching RB Derrick Henry, who broke 2000 yards this year. Arthur Smith was a hot commodity, reportedly being interviewed by every team but the Philadelphia Eagles, who joined the head coach search late.
Future of the ATlanta Falcons with Arthur Smith at the helm
Arthur Smith will likely wait until the Falcons hire a new GM (which all signs point to being Saints VP and assistant GM Terry Fontenot) before moving forward with any plans for free agency and the NFL Draft. However, rumors have been swirling for months that Falcons all-time leading passer and receiver Matt Ryan and Julio Jones could be on the move.
The Falcons sit in a poor cap situation, despite having roughly $24 million in cap. If they were to move Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, the dead cap they would incur as a result would send them into the negatives in terms of cap space. However, an offensive guru like Arthur Smith could potentially keep both Ryan and Julio and restore the Falcons offense to its former glory.
Of course, key pieces like WR Calvin Ridley and TE Hayden Hurst seem to be staying for good, with both coming off career years. The Falcons will likely be moving on from RB Todd Gurley and C Alex Mack, whose contracts expire this year.
Defensively, players like Keanu Neal and Damonte Kazee also have contracts expiring, with the Falcons likely only being able to keep one or the other, unless one takes a pay cut.
The Falcons hold the fourth pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, with top players like Ohio State QB Justin Fields, BYU QB Zach Wilson, Alabama WR Devonta Smith and Oregon OT Penei Sewell likely available at that spot. Defensively, superstar edge rusher Micah Parsons and shutdown CB Patrick Surtain II will also be considered.
The Falcons could be set for a minor reset but under Smith, could return to a high scoring offense to back up some decent defensive play that's occurred under DC's Raheem Morris and Jeff Ulbrich, who will likely return to the team.