Falcons Fire Head Coach Arthur Smith After Blowout Loss In Season Finale


The fate of Atlanta Falcons coach Arthur Smith was still uncertain when Sunday dawned because the team actually had a chance to not only make the playoffs but win the NFC South.

Well, the Falcons aren’t winning the division because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won their game at Carolina. That win delivered the division to the Bucs for the third consecutive season.

And now Smith is gone because he was fired late Sunday evening.

Falcons head coach Arthur Smith takes a shot at the media after losing to the Saints. (Credit: Screenshot/Twitter Video https://twitter.com/thekellyprice/status/1569064302673371138)
Falcons coach Arthur Smith talks to reporters. (Credit: Screenshot/Twitter Video https://twitter.com/thekellyprice)

Falcons Owner Arthur Blank Explains Smith Firing

Owner Arthur Blank explained his decision.

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

The search for a new head coach of the Falcons will begin immediately. It will be led by Blank and McKay, with input from Falcons General Manager Terry Fontenot, and several other appropriate members of Blank’s Atlanta Falcons and AMB Sports and Entertainment organizations, according to the Falcons.

There is no timetable for filling the role.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – OCTOBER 15: Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank looks on from the sideline during the final minutes of an NFL football game against the Washington Commanders at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on October 15, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kara Durrette/Getty Images)

Smith’s Team At It’s Worst In Most Important Game

So ultimately what the Bucs accomplished didn’t matter because the Falcons didn’t hold up their end, either. They got beat by the New Orleans Saints to confirm the fact they’re not ready for a playoff appearance.

And they got blown out by the Saints, 48-17, which helped put Smith out the door. So in the game with the highest stakes, the Falcons suffered their worst defeat.

The Falcons also saved their worst football of the season for the end. They lost four of their final five games.

A visibly upset Smith met Saints coach Dennis Allen in the middle of the field after the game, not to congratulate his counterpart but complain. The Saints, you see, scored their final touchdown with 1:10 to play on one yard run by Jamaal Williams.

It was a sad sight: Smith complaining to the opposing coach for piling on points instead of handling his own business and keeping those and 41 other off the board with his job on the line.

Falcons owner Arthur Smith had spent the past few weeks reaching out to confidants to gauge what to do with Smith. The owner had been leaning toward dismissing Smith because he’d not been able to manage a winning season in any of the three he was the head coach.

But this? This blowout loss was the culmination. And the end.

Desmond Ridder throws a pass during an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on October 22, 2023 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)

Arthur Smith Never Found A QB For Falcons

There was, of course, other reasons.

Smith was unable to find and develop a quarterback in any of his three seasons. He milked one unspectacular year out of Matt Ryan at the end of the quarterback’s time in Atlanta. But 2022 was a mess when Marcus Mariota disappointed as the starter after he was signed in free agency.

The rough part for the coach is that he vouched for Mariota. Mariota was the starter for the Tennessee Titans when Smith was that team’s offensive coordinator.

Smith also vouched for 2022 draft pick Desmond Ridder at the beginning of this season. The Falcons showed no interest in free agents such as Baker Mayfield or, most notably, Lamar Jackson.

Ridder, however, was disappointing. He was benched multiple times. And even after he was named the starter for the season-finale, he ended that game on the bench as well.

Smith finishes his time with the Falcons with a 21-30 record.

Follow on X: @ArmandoSalguero

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