A new regime has arrived in Atlanta, as the Falcons formally introduced general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith on Tuesday. Both hires left many of us hopeful following their introductory press conferences as they shared their thoughts on joining the organization and shed some light on what may wait ahead for the Atlanta Falcons this offseason.
One of the big questions will be the left guard position. For years, the Falcons were set at left guard due to a 2015 trade with the Tennessee Titans involving a sixth round draft pick for Andy Levitre. Overall, Levitre played three full seasons in Atlanta, including his best season in 2016 during the team’s Super Bowl run. Prior to joining the Falcons while in Tennessee, Levitre spent two seasons playing for newly hired Falcons head coach Arthur Smith, who was an offensive line/tight ends assistant coach at the time.
“Arthur Smith has always been a hard worker for as long as I have known him,” Andy Levitre told The Falcoholic. “We both are big coffee buffs, so we used to share different types of coffee and have some good early morning chats at the Titans facility. My experience with Arthur is that he is a grinder. Always in the office, looking to give the team the best advantage on Sundays. On the field, he is always looking to help his players be in the best position to be successful. I am excited to watch what he can do for Atlanta. They got a good coach who is determined to win.”
Smith was one of the most sought after coaching candidates this year after his offense in Tennessee finished as the 4th best in the league, with an attack led by Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. Not only did he help revive the career of Tannehill, he also coached Henry into becoming one of the most dominant, pure-running backs in recent NFL history. Among all offensive coordinators over the last two decades, Smith’s offenses have ranked 1st in red zone efficiency, 2nd in yards per play and 4th in scoring. With accolades like that, the excitement builds for what he may bring to the Falcons organization.
“I think Arthur will do a great job,” Levitre said. “He is a very down-to-earth person, and he will do a great job connecting with players. I have had the opportunity to watch from afar on the job he has done working his way up the ranks and being successful at all of the positions he has been put in. He has a wealth of knowledge and I know he will be surrounding himself with a great staff.”
Of the former Falcons/Titans players that I have spoken to about Smith, they all have nothing but positive things to say about the team’s new head coach. In Atlanta, Smith and Fontenot inherit a roster with cap issues, but talent on both sides of the ball. As Levitre said, Smith will need a strong staff and some interesting offseason moves to build the type of success the Titans have enjoyed over the last few years.