There’s plenty of optimism in Atlanta following the team’s hiring of both head coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot. Last week, they had their introductory press conferences where they shared their excitement and lightly touched on their outlook for the team’s future.
One of the biggest questions this year is if the team will look toward the future and take a quarterback with the No. 4 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft or keep riding it out with former league MVP Matt Ryan. On Tuesday, Smith appeared on the Jim Rome Show and was asked what initially jumped out to him about Ryan.
“Matt’s decision-making. Matt’s had a great career. He’s very decisive with the football, and he’s very intelligent and very active,” Smith said. “When you get to work with a veteran that has had thousands of reps — that certainly helps. I’ve never been one to compare guys, because he has his strengths and Ryan [Tannehill] has his. But I won’t do that, we’ll build around our guys and the strength around the team.”
It’s a big year for the Atlanta Falcons, in terms of what shape their future will be in. They’ve hired two bright minds in Smith and Fontenot, and have assembled a talented staff. Good teams don’t have a top-5 selection very often, so the team has a lot of decisions to make this offseason including what kind of mentality they want to have under the new regime.
“You still want that mentality, we’re going to play with great effort and we’ll pride ourselves with being physical and tough,” Smith said. “I know a lot of people say that but we’re going to implement that and find the right players to do that. Now having said that, our skills players they will be different than the ones we had in Tennessee. So, it’s my job to figure out what they do best and for the pieces that are currently here, play to their strengths. If we have different strengths on the perimeter, we’ll end up passing a little bit more. But we feel good, we want to be balanced but we don’t have a set number. We want to be physical and we want to be flexible and be adaptable. That’s what I want the identity to be of this team.”
It will again be a difficult offseason, as NFL team’s not only maneuver around the pandemic but specifically the Falcons fix their identity. The team has missed the playoffs in each of their last three seasons, and history says they’ll make the playoffs this year as they haven’t gone four consecutive seasons without an appearance since 1986. It’s only January though, so the Smith and company have plenty of time to decide what direction to go in this offseason.