ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported very early Monday morning that the Falcons were parting ways with head coach Arthur Smith. The Falcons subsequently released a statement confirming the news, and indicating the search for Smith’s replacement will begin immediately.
Per the Falcons’ release, the search for a new head coach will begin immediately and will be led by owner Arthur Blank and CEO Rich McKay, with input from general manager Terry Fontenot (indicating that Fontenot’s job is secure) and other members of Blank’s Atlanta Falcons and AMB Sports and Entertainment organizations.
NFL Network’s Steve Wyche (who was previously on the Falcons beat for the AJC) added some context.
This is pretty much how they have done all of their searches under Arthur Blank. GMs have input but Blank and Rich McKay tend to lead.— Steve Wyche (@wyche89) January 8, 2024
The release also states there is no timetable for filling the head coach vacancy, but the sooner Atlanta can lock up its favorite candidate, the better. Preparation for next season starts now, and once that coaching carousel starts spinning, things tend to shake out pretty quickly.
Owner Arthur Blank said the team didn’t come to the decision to move on from Smith lightly.
“Decisions like this are never easy and they never feel good,” said Blank. “We have profound respect for Coach Smith and appreciate all the hard work and dedication he has put into the Falcons over the last three years. He has been part of building a good culture in our football team, but the results on the field have not met our expectations. After significant thought and reflection, we have determined the best way forward for our team is new leadership in the head coaching position.”
Fontenot and Smith were hired in 2021 after the Falcons moved on from Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff. Under Smith’s leadership, the team finished 7-10 in each of his three seasons in Atlanta.
The Falcons will hold a press conference on Monday afternoon at 4 p.m. ET, where Blank and McKay will be available to answer questions about Smith’s firing and the search for his replacement.