The Atlanta Falcons made a lot of changes this offseason with hopes of getting back on track to being contenders. The big move was firing Dan Quinn and handing the reigns over to first-year NFL head coach, Arthur Smith.
While Smith has been deemed a quarterback whisperer across the league and credited for turning the Tennesee Titans around, one NFL insider thinks his previous success won’t translate over well in Atlanta.
Heavy is the head of those labelled a QB-guru or offensive wunderkind. People expect immediate results. And this owner resisted a full rebuild and kept Matt Ryan around (despite giving away Julio Jones for cash/cap reasons), which sends an odd signal. They have no hope of immediate success with that defense, and the QB is in decline. But the objective seems to be to win ASAP, despite a horrible cap situation and with an aging core.
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Smith’s Very Successful Tenure at Tennessee
Smith might not have brought any NFL head coaching experience to Atlanta, but that didn’t keep his resume from standing out among the others.
He spent 10 years coaching in Tennessee where he most recently was the team’s offensive coordinator and took them to a whole new level in a single season.
Before he made the jump from tight ends coach to OC, the Titans ranked 25th in total offense (312.4 yards per game) and 27th in points per game ( avg. 19.4 ) in 2018. With Smith in full control of the offense in 2019, Tennessee jumped to 12th in total offense (362.8 yards per game) and 10th in points per game (avg. 25.1).
He continued the team’s success this past season as the Titans tied for second in total offense, (396.4 yards per game) and finished with the fourth-highest scoring offense ( avg. 30.7 points per game).
Also in 2019, quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who was in jeopardy of losing his starting job, led the Titans to a 7-3 record and was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
And Derrick Henry reached 1,000 yards for the first time in 2018 but soared to 1,500 yards in both 2019 and 2020. This past season he became just the eighth player in NFL history to gain 2,000 rushing yards, totaling 2,027 yards.
So, why can’t he do the same in Atlanta?
Matt Ryan Has the Key(s) to Success
There are a lot of doubters in Matt Ryan, who will turn 36 ahead of the 2021 season, but believe it or not, he still has plenty of juice left in him. In fact, despite a poor 2020 record, he finished the season ranked fourth with 4,581 passing yards.
And of course, there’s plenty of concern about how the Falcons’ offense will look without Julio Jones, but there shouldn’t be. Ryan will still have a bundle of elite targets to choose from in rising star wideouts Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage to tight end duo, Kyle Pitts and Hayden Hurst.
And no, the Falcons don’t have their own Henry in the backfield, but they do have Mike Davis and he did an O.K. job filling Christian McCaffrey’s void last season in Carolina.
Plus, we have already seen what the Falcons are capable of without Jones 100% in the picture. Facing many obstacles last year, the Falcons still managed to rank 13th in passing efficiency and 21st in offensive efficiency.
With a new head coach and a QB that is a lot better than Tannehill ever will be, the Falcons are set up for a successful 2021, contrary to what Canfora has to say.
Here is a look at Canfora’s full list of new head coach rankings:
1.Brandon Staley, LA Chargers
2.Urban Meyer, Jacksonville Jaguars
3.Nick Sirianni, Philadelphia Eagles
4.Dan Campbell, Detroit Lions
5.Arthur Smith, Atlanta Falcons
6.Robert Saleh, New York Jets
7.David Culley, Houston Texans