The Atlanta Falcons have fired head coach Arthur Smith after three seasons, the team announced Monday morning, making Smith the first coaching casualty on what is traditionally the NFL’s “Black Monday.”
Smith Struggled to Produce Wins in Atlanta
Smith was hired in 2021 after serving as offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans. He brought an innovative run-first offense to Atlanta but struggled to translate that into victories. The Falcons went 14-23 under Smith and failed to reach the playoffs in any of his three seasons .
2023 was seen as a make-or-break year for Smith to show progress with a roster led by veteran quarterback Matt Ryan and star wide receiver Calvin Ridley. However, the Falcons limped to a 7-10 record this season despite getting solid production from a run game powered by Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley .
In the end, team owner Arthur Blank felt the Falcons needed a change in leadership to take the next step. Atlanta has not made the playoffs since 2017 and has not won a playoff game since 2016 under previous coach Dan Quinn.
Hot Seat Entering 2023
Rumors had swirled late in the 2022 season that Smith was on the coaching hot seat . Atlanta got off to a promising 4-4 start last year before fading down the stretch with six straight losses to finish 7-10.
Behind the scenes, there was tension between Smith and veteran quarterback Matt Ryan. Ryan was traded to the Indianapolis Colts this past offseason, signaling a rebuild in Atlanta.
The Falcons then had a 2023 draft widely praised by pundits, including selecting highly touted rookie quarterback Drake London. But the influx of promising young talent was still not enough to lift Atlanta beyond mediocrity under Smith’s leadership.
What’s Next for the Falcons
The Falcons now enter yet another rebuild, looking for a head coach who can help develop young quarterback Desmond Ridder and the other promising pieces on the roster. Team owner Arthur Blank said the next coach should have an offensive background and will be someone who can “put scoring points at a premium.” 
Top candidates are rumored to include former Saints coach Sean Payton, 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, and Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.
The new coach will inherit a roster with talent at the skill positions and a top-10 pick in the 2024 draft. However, questions remain about the offensive line and overall depth on defense.
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