Falcons hire Arthur Smith as head coach

The Atlanta Falcons agreed to terms with Arthur Smith to become their next head coach on Friday.

Smith has been with the Titans since 2011 in various positions, serving under four different head coaches. This season was his second as their offensive coordinator. 

The Falcons virtually interviewed Smith on Jan. 11. The Falcons virtually interviewed Smith on Jan. 11 and then reportedly held their second interview with Smith on Wednesday. According to multiple reports, Smith was at one point in the running for all of the open head coaching gigs across the NFL. But he reportedly cancelled a trip to Detroit on Friday to interview for the Lions' vacant head coaching position, after the Falcons offered him their head coach job.

During the 2020 regular season, the Titans tied for second in yards per game (396.4) and also finished second in the league with rushing yards per game (168.1) and total rushing yards (2,690). Tennessee finished fourth in the league in scoring, putting up 30.7 points per game and 491 points overall.

Smith worked his way up in Tennessee from defensive assistant/quality control coach in 2011 and then offensive assistant/quality control coach in 2012, to offensive line/tight ends assistant (2013) and assistant tight ends coach (2014-15) before taking over as tight ends coach during the 2015 season until 2018, after which he was promoted to offensive coordinator.

The 38-year-old is also credited with turning around quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s career, when Tannehill became the Titans' starting quarterback in Week 7 of the 2019 season. Over the final 11 weeks of that season, the Titans ranked third in total offense (406.2 yards per game), third in scoring offense (30.4 points per game), first in yards per play (6.94), second in rushing (160.6 yards per game) and 10th in passing (245.6 yards per game). Tannehill also led the league with a 117.5 passer rating in 2019.

Also in 2019, Smith helped the Titans rebound from a 2-4 start to the team's first AFC Championship Game appearance in 17 years. The Titans ranked first in the NFL in red zone efficiency (75.6 percent), third in rushing offense (138.9 yards per game) and fourth in yards per play (6.12). Their red-zone percentage was the highest since the 2013 Denver Broncos (76.1). 

NASHVILLE, TN - AUGUST 19: Tight ends coach Arthur Smith of the Tennessee Titans talks with Phillip Supernaw #89 during a preseason game against the Carolina Panthers at Nissan Stadium on August 19, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Joe Robbins

Smith broke into the NFL when he was hired in Washington by Joe Gibbs. He was the Redskins' defensive quality control coach from 2007-2008. In spring 2007, he also worked as a college scouting assistant for the Redskins. In 2010, he an Ole Miss administrative assistant/defensive intern and primarily worked with the linebackers.

The Memphis native played offensive line and graduated from North Carolina before joining the Tar Heels coaching staff for one season in 2006 as a graduate assistant, working with the offensive line. He attended high school at Georgetown Prep (North Bethesda, Md.). 

Arthur Smith's Coaching Timeline:

  • 2019-20: Offensive Coordinator
  • 2016-18: Tight Ends, Tennessee Titans
  • 2014-15: Assistant Tight Ends, Tennessee Titans (Took over tight ends for the final nine games of the 2015 season)
  • 2013: Offensive Line/Tight End Assistant, Tennessee Titans
  • 2012: Offensive Assistant/Quality Control, Tennessee Titans
  • 2011: Defensive Assistant/Quality Control, Tennessee Titans
  • 2010: Administrative Assistant/Defensive Intern, University of Mississippi
  • 2007-08: Defensive Assistant/Quality Control, Washington Redskins
  • 2006: Graduate Assistant, University of North Carolina