A new regime is taking over the Atlanta Falcons. The Thomas Dimitroff era of head coaches Mike Smith and Dan Quinn has officially come to an end. News officially broke on Friday that the team would hire their youngest head coach in franchise history, 38-year-old Arthur Smith as the two parties agreed to a contract, which was then signed on Saturday.
Smith was one of the hottest coaching candidates this year after his offense in Tennessee finished as the 4th best in the league, with an attack keyed by Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. NFL insiders like Ian Rapoport said Falcons’ team owner Arthur Blank and company reportedly had Smith as their top candidate all along, and they got their guy.
“We are thrilled to welcome Arthur to Atlanta and introduce him to our city and fans as the Falcons new head coach,” Arthur Blank said. “Throughout our research and interview process, Arthur stood out amongst a very deep and very talented candidate pool with an outstanding plan for our organization to return to the level of competition our fans deserve and expect. He has all the characteristics of a strong leader and while his achievements have primarily come on the offensive side of the ball, he has provided a plan that is comprehensive within all three phases of the game. With Arthur, I am very confident that our process and approach have led us to a dynamic leader for our team and I believe our players, staff, fans and community will be as well.”
The plan appears to be what won the team over. We are not sure how hard Terry Fontenot thumped the table for Smith and why Smith’s plans were more attractive to the team than Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady, but hopefully over time the Falcons will share more about the vision that separated him from Bieniemy in particular.
It’s great that the Falcons viewed Smith as their top head coaching candidate, but how did Smith feel about them? After all, there were some likely fictitious rumors that the Falcons weren’t a very desirable destination.
“I’m honored and humbled to have the responsibility of leading Atlanta’s team,” Smith said. “I’d like to thank Arthur Blank, Rich McKay and the entire Falcons organization and the city of Atlanta for this opportunity. I’d especially like to thank my family, Allison and our three children, for not only joining me, but for supporting me on this journey. We are beyond excited to become a part of the Atlanta community, embrace its culture and experience all the city and our fellow citizens have to offer. The Falcons organization stood out to us in this process primarily due to the leadership and support from the top in Arthur Blank. His actions and core values provide a great model on how to operate for so many, and align with how I plan to move forward in reaching the levels of competition the passionate Atlanta fans so richly deserve. That will all start with the culture we as a team create and thrive in. I’m excited to get started on this new journey and cannot wait to see what the future holds for our city and its fans.”
There remains several questions to be answered, such as what Smith’s thoughts are on quarterback Matt Ryan and other key starters. With the team having the No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, there’s obviously the elephant in the room of what will the team do with such a highly-coveted selection, but more than that, there’s a question of how the team will rebuild the roster and get back on track after three straight disappointing seasons.
With a new general manager in Terry Fontenot on the way, the Falcons have a new regime in place and anything can happen at this point. We’ve all gotten used to the predictability of this organization over the last few years (or more) so having some hope—even optimism—is a nice feeling.