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Atlanta Falcons Fire their Head Coach Arthur Smith after Disappointing Season
he Atlanta Falcons have recently fired their head coach, Arthur Smith, following his 3 seasons coaching the Atlanta Falcons without a playoff appearance or a winning record to show for himself.
Smith met with Atlanta Falcons owner in Arthur Blank as well as the CEO of the Atlanta Falcons, Rich McKay, on the night of Sunday, January 7th, 2023 just a matter of hours after a 48 to 17 loss to the New Orleans Saints which happened to seal the Atlanta Falcons record of 7 and 10 for the past 2023 - 2024 NFL regular season.
The Atlanta Falcons had a slim outside chance to win the NFC South division of the NFL with a victory in their last regular season game of the NFL, but they were outscored 31 to 0 by the New Orleans Saints in the second half of that critical game. Smith finished his time as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons with an overall record of 21 and 30 during his three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.
"Decisions like this are never easy and they never feel good," the owner of the Atlanta Falcons, Arthur Blank, said in a recently released press statement. "We have profound respect for Coach Smith and appreciate all the hard work and dedication he has put into the Falcons over the last three years. He has been part of building a good culture in our football team, but the results on the field have not met our expectations. After significant thought and reflection, we have determined the best way forward for our team is new leadership in the head coaching position."
"He's an incredible guy and I think a phenomenal coach, honestly," the Atlanta Falcons defensive end, Calais Campbell, explained. "Just as a person, he does everything the right way. He came and addressed us and told us how much we mean to him."
Linebacker, Nate Landman, said that Smith's firing was, "disappointing,” and that, “someone like Art ... Art's popular in this locker room, so sad to see him go, but I trust whatever decision they make upstairs and they have the best interest for the team in mind."
The team said a search for a new head coach will start immediately during the 2024 NFL offseason. It will be led by Blank and McKay, with input from the Atlanta Falcons general manager in Terry Fontenot who has managed to keep his job for which he was hired prior to the 2021 - 2022 NFL regular season.
Tough Game for Atlanta
The Atlanta Falcons last game of the 2023-2024 NFL season vs. the New Orleans Saints was a definite low point for Arthur Smith. Atlanta scored touchdowns on their initial 2 - series of the contest, then they managed to score only 3 - points the rest of the way while allowing the Saints to outscore the Falcons 41 to 3 over the rest of an absolute must - win game for Atlanta to make the playoffs.
Smith stormed off the field irate as all hell as he yelled at the New Orleans Saints counterpart Dennis Allen as the 2 - head coaches approached each other for a postgame handshake that never ultimately occurred. Arthur was upset that the New Orleans Saints scored on a late 1 - yard touchdown run with the game all but over. Allen later on after the fact, eventually apologized to Smith, saying the New Orleans Saints players made that call and their coaching staff never intended to try and run up the score on the Falcons when the game was obviously over already.
When Smith was asked about his status following the match - up and what his case would be to continue coaching with the Atlanta Falcons and this was his response:
"With any job, you got a lot of confidence. I'm not going to give a state of the union right now of everything that's happened the last three years. The season just ended. Obviously wasn't the result we needed today and clearly the second half got out of hand. Credit to New Orleans."
Amazing Young Talent with Little Results
Smith was brought in as an offensive - minded head coach when he was hired in January of 2021, with his previous job having been offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans. Despite him having some great young offensive weapons, the Atlanta Falcons used high - first - round NFL draft picks on tight end Kyle Pitts, wide receiver Drake London, and running back Bijan Robinson their offense never took off and flourished like it should have as the Falcons finished in 26th - place in the league in scoring in 2021 and 2023, and they were tied for 15th - place in 2022. During Smith’s tenure the Atlanta Falcons never averaged more than 22 - points during a full NFL season.
Inconsistent play at the quarterback position might be very responsible and detrimental to the Atlanta Falcons short - comings over the last few years. One of the biggest questions for Smith's replacement as their new head coach will be how to handle the QB position. Desmond Ridder as well as Taylor Heinicke are under contract for the upcoming 2024 - 2025 NFL season, with Logan Woodside now becoming a restricted NFL free agent. Ridder has no guaranteed money attached to his rookie contract, and Heinicke would be owed just $2 million in dead money with $7 million of salary cap savings if he is ultimately let go from the Atlanta Falcons organization.
The Atlanta Falcons will select 8th - overall in the upcoming NFL draft in April of 2024.
Smith also burned through two defensive coordinators in both Dean Pees and Ryan Nielsen, the latter of whom turned the Atlanta Falcons defense into a formidable squad this past NFL regular season. Blank and Fontenot now embark on a search form a new head coach in order to try to turn around a proud NFL franchise that has not finished with a winning record or made the NFL postseason since back during the 2017 - 2018 NFL season. Their next HC hire will be the 7th - full - time head coach during the tenure of Arthur Blank's ownership of the team which dates to 2002.
“Atlanta Falcons fire Arthur Smith after 7 - 10 season”, Michael Rothstein, espn.com, January 8, 2024.