Falcons hire Titans OC Arthur Smith as new head coach

The Atlanta Falcons landed their top choice.

Arthur Smith has agreed to terms with Atlanta to become its next head coach, the team announced Friday. He officially signed on Saturday.

The Tennessee Titans' offensive coordinator over the last two seasons, Smith, 38, was the Falcons' No. 1 choice all along, per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

Though he was the franchise's top target, Smith was one of seven coaching candidates considered by Atlanta after the Falcons fired Dan Quinn on Oct. 11. He is expected to pair with Terry Fontenot, who is currently the Saints assistant general manager/vice president of player personnel, but is slated to be hired as Atlanta's next general manager when New Orleans' season concludes.

Smith spent the last 10 seasons in the Titans organization, but stood out in his last two as Tennessee's offensive coordinator under Mike Vrabel. Tennessee advanced to the postseason in each of the last two seasons largely on the strength of an offense showcasing two-time reigning rushing champion Derrick Henry and the resurgent Ryan Tannehill at quarterback.

Under the Smith umbrella, the Titans were the only team in the NFL that ranked in the top five in rushing yards per game (153.5) and passer rating (107.0) since 2019 -- per NFL Research.

Having earned due credit for the Titans' offensive success, Smith will now look to deliver a Falcons turnabout, as the franchise has fallen upon three straight losing seasons with a 4-12 2020 campaign marked by close losses the latest in a string of disappointing campaigns.

Since the firing of Quinn, much has been made about the futures of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and receiver Julio Jones with the franchise. Should either or both be around, one must lean to this being a stellar fit for the Falcons' standout skill players, which includes receiver Calvin Ridley. As noted by Pelissero, Smith runs a similar scheme to the one the Falcons ran during their run to a Super Bowl appearance in the 2016 season in which Ryan collected AP Most Valuable Player.

Though Smith's stock has risen over the past two campaigns, he's an NFL coaching veteran of 12 seasons, with the last 10 in Tennessee.

Having moved on from Quinn, who was recently hired as Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator, the Falcons are making a move to an offensive-minded head coach. Having also previously interviewed with the Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Chargers and New York Jets, Smith also had an interview with the Philadelphia Eagles on the books, but obviously that's not happening now.

One of the most important pieces to Tennessee becoming a player in the AFC these past two seasons is moving on to Atlanta, which got younger and more offensive-minded on the sidelines, and above all else, got the coach it wanted all along.

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