The Falcons have built a candidate list for their open head coaching position that skews toward the offensive side of the ball. Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady, and Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett have all been prominent candidates in their search to this point, and you’ll soon be able to add Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith to that list.
Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Tennessee’s elimination yesterday by Lamar Jackson and the Ravens made Smith a very popular man. He has already interviewed for one open job and will have interviews for every opening but the Texans job complete by the end of Tuesday.
Titans OC Arthur Smith interviewed Sunday night with the Jaguars for their HC job, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 11, 2021
Smith is scheduled to interview today for HC jobs with the Jets, Falcons and Chargers, then the Lions on Tuesday.
Jets also interviewing Saints’ DB coach Aaron Glenn today for HC job.
Smith has become a legitimate candidate for the Falcons and other teams due to his work with the Tennessee offense the past couple of years. He worked his way up through that organization and has presided over a balanced attack that has maximized Ryan Tannehill’s abilities and made the former so-so Dolphins quarterback an asset, and has managed to effectively feature several talented receiving options including A.J. Brown, Corey Davis, and Jonnu Smith. Arthur Smith is probably best known for his work on the Titans ground game, which has turned the very good Derrick Henry into a juggernaut, which is particularly impressive this year with the Titans line in flux thanks to new additions and injuries.
Tennessee ranked 4th in points per game, 6th in yards per game, 2nd in rushing yards and touchdowns, and 22nd in passing yardage and 9th in passing touchdowns. It’s an offense that has excelled at scoring and playing to its quarterback’s strengths, which is one of the most appealing traits for Smith as the Falcons move ahead with Matt Ryan and an offense that was comically inept in the red zone this year.
The hope for every team interviewing Smith is that he can replicate that with their teams. The Falcons would be hoping that Smith can revitalize a passing attack that was not nearly as effective under Dirk Koetter, and they’d likely go shopping this spring to get the kind of feature back Smith would love to have for his rushing attack. He would be able to build an interesting staff purely from Titans assistants, including Keith Carter (who has done terrific work with the offensive line in Tennessee) and Terrell Williams (ditto on the defensive line). Joe Brady is reportedly confident about his chances of getting the Falcons job and Eric Bieniemy is a strong candidate as well, per reporting over the weekend, but there’s no question Smith would be an appealing choice for a Falcons team looking for better fortunes on offense.
The question of which general manager finalists prefer which coach options looms large in this process with the team reportedly winnowing down to 2-3 finalists for that job, so we’ll see where Smith figures into that. If the Falcons really want him, they may need to move fast.