The Atlanta Falcons have fired head coach Arthur Smith after three straight 7-10 seasons. The move comes less than 24 hours after the Falcons were blown out in their season finale by division rival New Orleans.
Background Leading Up to Firing
Arthur Smith was hired in 2021 after a successful stint as the Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator. He came in with high expectations to turn around a Falcons team that had struggled in recent years.
However, Smith was unable to produce a winning record in any of his three seasons at the helm. The Falcons hovered around .500 each year, lacking the ability to win crucial games late in the season.
While the Falcons showed flashes of potential, the team could not find consistency, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Despite having weapons like Cordarrelle Patterson, Kyle Pitts, and Drake London, the Falcons had one of the league’s least productive offenses under Smith.
Many questioned Smith’s play calling and his use of personnel this past season. There was a disconnect between the front office and coaching staff about the direction of the team. As losses mounted late in the year, it became clear that a change was inevitable.
Details on Smith’s Firing
On January 8th, 2023, Falcons owner Arthur Blank announced that the team had fired Arthur Smith. The news came less than a day after the Falcons’ 30-point loss to the New Orleans Saints.
In Blank’s statement, he acknowledged that while Smith had helped develop talent on the roster, the lack of on-field success necessitated a change:
“Decisions like these are never easy, I want to thank Arthur for his time here and his effort in leading our team… But in the end, we didn’t see the type of on-field success that we felt we needed to see.”
Defensive players Grady Jarrett and AJ Terrell expressed surprise at the firing initially but ultimately understood that winning games is what matters most. They respected Smith and were thankful for his efforts in Atlanta.
The Falcons offensive unit took the news harder, with players like rookie Drake London voicing their disappointment:
“Coach believed in me, he drafted me here… This sucks man.”
While the players dealt with the shock, Falcons GM Terry Fontenot and team president Rich McKay quickly shifted focus to finding a replacement. They outlined a comprehensive coaching search and desire to find the right leader to help the team win.
What’s Next for the Falcons
The Falcons will now dive into a coaching search as they look to replace Arthur Smith. Based on statements from Blank and Fontenot, they want an experienced coach who can come in and make an immediate difference.
Some top candidates include:
|Winningest coach in Saints history (152-89)
|Led Falcons to Super Bowl in 2016
|Fired by Panthers
|Previously took Colts to playoffs
The team wants to conduct a thorough but efficient search process. They don’t want this situation to linger like it did two years ago when they hired Smith.
The new coach will have a core of young talent to mold but will need to deliver results quickly. Players like rookie Drake London spoke highly of Smith, so keeping the locker room morale up will be imperative during this transition.
The NFC South presents a formidable challenge with contenders like Tampa Bay and New Orleans. But with better leadership and improved execution, the Falcons talent suggests this team could compete for a playoff spot soon.
While the firing brings sadness and uncertainty initially, a new voice could be just what the Falcons need to finally get over the hump. The next few weeks will prove crucial as Blank and Fontenot look to make the hire that can return winning football to Atlanta.
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