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May 23, 2024

Arthur Smith Fired as Falcons Head Coach After Three Seasons

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Jan 8, 2024

The Atlanta Falcons have fired head coach Arthur Smith after three seasons with the team. The move comes one day after the Falcons concluded a 7-10 2023 season with a home loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Smith’s Tenure and Firing

Arthur Smith was hired by the Falcons in 2021 after serving as the Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator from 2019-2020. He led the Falcons to a 7-10 record in each of his three seasons, failing to produce a winning record or playoff appearance.

The 2023 season saw the Falcons get off to a promising 4-4 start before collapsing down the stretch with six losses in their final eight games. A lackluster offensive performance in Sunday’s 30-17 home loss to the Buccaneers sealed Smith’s fate.

On Monday morning, Falcons owner Arthur Blank made the decision to part ways with Smith despite having two years remaining on his contract:

“This was an extremely difficult decision, but we believe it is in the best interest of our team moving forward. We appreciate all that Arthur has given to our organization over the last three seasons, but feel we need to go in a different direction at head coach. I wish Arthur nothing but the best in the future.”

The firing makes Smith the first NFL head coach to lose his job after the 2023 season. With a 27-20 overall record, he posted the eighth most wins by a Falcons head coach since the team began playing in 1966.

Reaction Around the League

The Falcons firing Smith on the first working day after the regular season was not entirely unexpected around NFL circles.

ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter reported there were rumblings over the last month that Smith was in jeopardy if the Falcons did not make the playoffs:

“You started hearing some rumblings about Arthur Smith’s future over the last month. When the losses started piling up in the second half of the season, it felt like his seat was getting warm. Missing the playoffs again this year after two prior losing seasons was probably the final nail.”

Another long-time league reporter, Peter King, believes Smith is still a strong offensive mind but may not have been ready for a head coaching job:

“I think Arthur Smith has a good offensive mind and I’m sure he’ll resurface as a coordinator somewhere. But he’s a young coach who seemed to get overwhelmed at times with all that comes with being an NFL head coach. The Falcons may have put too much on his plate too early.”

What’s Next for Falcons

The Falcons head coaching job is now one of four current vacancies around the NFL heading into the offseason. The other open spots are with the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, and Carolina Panthers.

Atlanta’s general manager Terry Fontenot will now lead the search for a new head coach. Some names being floated as top candidates:

49ers Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans
Eagles Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen
Former Saints Head Coach Sean Payton
Bengals Offensive Coordinator Brian Callahan

Candidate Current Role Background
DeMeco Ryans 49ers Defensive Coordinator Was NFL Defensive Rookie of Year in 2006, has led top-ranked 49ers defense since 2021
Shane Steichen Eagles Offensive Coordinator Has helped develop Jalen Hurts into MVP candidate
Sean Payton Former Saints Head Coach (2016-2021) Won Super Bowl XLIV, left Saints last year to work in TV
Brian Callahan Bengals Offensive Coordinator Son of former NFL coach Bill Callahan, running high-powered Bengals offense

Whoever comes in will need to address the Falcons stagnant offense and ineffective offensive line. There will also be major questions at the quarterback position, with 36-year old Marcus Mariota scheduled to become a free agent.

Fontenot offered no timetable on naming a new head coach, saying the team will be “methodical and detailed” in their search and emphasized finding the right person over acting urgently.

Smith leaves Atlanta with a .450 winning percentage, slightly below the .461 franchise winning percentage across 58 seasons. Of their 12 head coaches not named Dan Reeves, only four have left the Falcons with a record above .500

While Smith had shortcomings in his first stint as a head coach, he is still just 39 years old and will likely get looks around the league for offensive coordinator positions where he can continue developing.

As the Falcons start yet another rebuild, the six-time NFC West champions remain in pursuit of the sustained success that has largely eluded the franchise since their 1998 Super Bowl run. This latest reset pushes their Lombardi Trophy drought to over a quarter century and counting.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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