NFL

Atlanta Falcons dismiss head coach Smith

By Sports Desk January 08, 2024

The Atlanta Falcons announced they have fired head coach Arthur Smith after three seasons of missing the playoffs and delivering middling results.

Owner Arthur Blank disclosed the decision in a statement released hours after the Falcons ended their 2023 campaign with Sunday's 48-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Smith went 7-10 in each of his three seasons after being hired in 2021. The 41-year-old previously served 10 seasons as an assistant with the Tennessee Titans, including the last two as that team's offensive coordinator.

The Falcons said they will conduct a search for a new head coach immediately, with Blank and team CEO Rich McKay to lead the operation.

“Decisions like this are never easy and they never feel good,” said Blank in a statement. “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.”

Smith came to Atlanta with a reputation as a successful play-caller during his time with the Titans, but the Falcons never finished in the top half of the NFL in total offence in any of his three seasons despite investing high draft choices on expected playmakers in tight end Kyle Pitts (2021), wide receiver Drake London (2022) and running back Bijan Robinson (2023).

Additionally, young quarterback Desmond Ridder struggled in his first season as a full-time starter in 2023 after displaying potential in a four-game stint as a rookie the previous year.

Smith did have the Falcons in position to end the franchise's five-year playoff drought, as the team owned a one-game lead atop the NFC South in early December. Atlanta lost four of its final five games, however, to finish two games back of the Saints and the eventual division champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Falcons last made the postseason in 2018 and their six consecutive seasons of missing the playoffs is tied with the Carolina Panthers for the longest active stretch in the NFC.

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