After some interviews and debate, the Atlanta Falcons finally hired their new coach –Arthur Smith. Smith was one of the most sought-after head-coaching candidates this offseason, after an impressive last few years with the Tennessee Titans as their offensive coordinator.
The move should help the Falcons move up NFL Vegas odds to win the NFC South and Super Bowl next season, as he is considered an offensive mastermind – who also has experience coaching the defence. If you are unfamiliar with the Falcons’ new head coach, let us have a look at his football career so far.
Played Minimal During His Time at North Carolina
After a successful high school career at Georgetown Preparatory School in Maryland, Smith went to play guard at North Carolina in 2001. Smith spent his first year there as a redshirt freshman. In 2002, a foot injury limited Smith to one game and the problem lingered into 2003. Smith underwent another surgery and missed all of 2003. He returned to the team in 2004 and 2005, although he played sparingly.
Early Coaching Years with Washington Redskins, Ole Miss, and Tennessee Titans
Smith spent 2006 at North Carolina as a graduate assistant before moving on to his first National Football League gig – defensive quality control coach with the Washington Redskins. Smith held that position with Washington for two years. He took 2009 off from coaching.
His next job in football was as a defensive intern and administrative assistant for Ole Miss. Smith spent only one year with Ole Miss.
While Ole Miss was not good in 2010, Titans coach Mike Munchak saw enough from Smith to hire him for the role of defensive quality control coach. The Titans ranked eighth in points allowed in Smith’s first and only season, working with the Titans’ defence.
Made the Switch to The Offensive Side of the Ball in 2012
Smith moved to the role of offensive quality control coach in 2012. While the offence slightly improved in 2012 – the defence performed much worse, allowing 154 more points than they did in 2011. Smith’s role with the Titans consistently changed for the next few years. He moved to offensive line/tight ends assistant coach in 2013.
While the Titans fired head coach Munchak following a disappointing 2013 season, new head coach Ken Whisenhunt retained Smith – although he also only retained in the role of assistant tight ends coach.
While the job of assistant tight ends coach is not glamorous, he helped Delanie Walker develop into one of the league’s most dependable tight ends. He eventually moved into the role of tight ends coach with the Titans – which he held from 2015 to 2018. While injuries derailed Walker in 2018, from 2014 to 2017, he was one of the league’s best at the position – averaging 74 receptions, 3585 yards, and five touchdowns over four seasons.
Smith was once again retained when the Titans hired a new head coach – this time Mike Vrabel. Following one more year coaching the tight ends under Vrabel, he was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2019.
His Time as Offensive Coordinator in Nashville were Some of the Team’s Best
Smith’s two years as offensive coordinator for the Titans were a rousing success. Although the team started slowly in 2019, once they made the change to Ryan Tannehill from Marcus Mariota, their offence quickly became one of the best in the NFL.
The team’s offensive success grew even more in 2020. The team scored 491 points in 2020 – the most the Titans/Oilers franchise has scored in a single season since the NFL/AFL merger. Smith turned Ryan Tannehill into a Pro Bowl calibre quarterback while also unlocking Derrick Henry – whose 2027 rushing yards in 2020 makes the Titans the only NFL franchise with two players to rush for at least 2000 yards in a single season (the other being Chris Johnson).
After seeing what he did in Tennessee, Falcons fans should be excited for Smith in 2021. While the team’s direction next year is hard to gauge (whether they keep Matt Ryan or draft a quarterback are the biggest questions of the offseason), the team’s overall prospects under Smith look great.