After having defensive-minded head coaches for over a decade, the Atlanta Falcons went in a new direction this offseason as they hired the offensive-minded Arthur Smith, who spent two seasons coordinating Tennessee’s excellent offense. Smith has appeared on a couple podcasts and shows this offseason, and in the latest appearance he joined Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay and NFL insider Pete Schrager on the Flying Coach podcast for an interview that touched on Matt Ryan, the interview process he went through, and his history in coaching.
Before getting deep into the topics, Smith received some high praise from McVay who said “I’ve been copying his shit for the last couple years.” Considering McVay is thought to be one of the better offensive minds in the league, that’s some pretty high praise for the Falcons new head coach. From there, Smith did go into some detail about his job interviews and what ultimately led him to join the Falcons.
“I ended up doing six [job interviews], three in person,” Smith said on Flying Coach podcast. “So, they’re all very different. Like everything, I kinda felt like a player you know, the more reps you do, I kinda felt like I got my total shtick down. But when you get behind the curtain a little bit, you know on the Zooms, it was fascinating me how different all of their approaches were.”
“They were all very good, I enjoyed meeting all of the people. Some of them were — there were a bunch of people in the Zooms and you knew that you were being judged by different things. Whether they hired a psychologist or one of these, business consultants on it, some were pretty informal. Philly was the one that probably had the most people involved. That was the last interview I did, so I felt pretty comfortable going into that one. But it was a completely different dynamic. But it was cool, to see how everybody is set up and what they value.”
For most of the offseason, there was an argument raging in this fanbase about the future of Matt Ryan on the team and whether the Falcons would look to the future and select a quarterback at No. 4 in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Falcons ultimately went with generational tight end Kyle Pitts, keeping Ryan as “the guy” in Atlanta for at least the short term. That decision made you wonder how big of a factor Ryan was in Smith signing on to be head coach of the Falcons, and he touched on that in the interview, too.
“It was a big factor,” Smith said. “I’ve always been a fan of Matt Ryan from afar. I know a lot of people who have worked with him and know him well, and I’m just so impressed with how he handles himself. He wants to be coached and Ryan [Tannehill] was the same way. They are different players, and they both have their strengths and both of those guys, when you have players like that they come in there and they work hard. Matt’s going into year 14 and has thrown over 55,000 yards and he comes in here and works, I imagine, as hard as he did as rookie. It’s unique, it sounds so simple, but Sean [McVay] could tell you not everybody does that. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know him, working with him, communicating with him everyday. That was a big part of it as well.”
After all of the speculation, it’s refreshing to finally have Smith speak to his respect for Ryan in more detail. Considering the vast improvement Ryan Tannehill had under Smith the last two seasons, who knows what he can get out of the former league MVP? I do highly recommend listening to the full episode of Flying Coach for more, as they discuss more of Smith’s history in coaching and the Julio Jones situation.