Arthur Smith was fired because the Falcons underachieved. It’s that simple.
There are factors that caused the club not to meet expectations, but the overarching theme of the 2023 campaign was disappointment.
Quarterback play certainly hindered the Falcons at times, costing the club more than a few games. Though the defense experienced a complete turnaround, they faltered late in several contests as well. After all, it is a team game.
Arthur Smith isn’t free of blame, though. The former Falcons head coach deserves a share of it for his offense’s lack of red zone success, consistency in general, but most of all, not utilizing his top 10 draft picks better.
I do believe some of the outcry over Bijan Robinson, Drake London, and Kyle Pitts’ lack of touches is overblown a bit. For instance, Robinson ranked 10th in yards from scrimmage and 12th in touches. Pitts totaled nearly 700 yards on 53 receptions, and London logged over 900 yards on 69 catches.
They weren’t All-Pro campaigns, but they weren’t horrible. To shed even more light on the matter, the Falcons ran the 7th fewest plays in the league. Smith’s offense struggled to maintain drives. At times, it was bad play calling. Other times, it could be blamed on the quarterback.
Kyle Pitts’ record breaking rookie campaign that resulted in a Pro Bowl nod is what Falcons had in mind for Drake London and Bijan Robinson. Though they didn’t have terrible seasons, they didn’t come close to realizing their full potential.
Atlanta’s 8th overall pick from last year believes the key to unlocking that star power is already in the building.
“I felt like it was just probably new leadership, which we got now,” Robinson said, via Fox News, will be able to unlock the star power on the team. “I love coach Smith. I love him for how he brought me in and coached me up. I know things may be different and there’s time for new people and new places.”
Raheem Morris replaces Arthur Smith, but he won’t be calling plays. That will be Zac Robinson’s task. The former Rams quarterbacks coach and pass game coordinator will have plenty of weapons to incorporate in his offense, and Robinson is chomping at the bits.
“It’s going to be so much fun. He brings so much energy to, from what I’ve seen, every program he’s been on. And for him to bring the energy here to us, and just even the new coaches – the OC and the DC – I’m excited to get to meet them and to play for them as well. It’s going to be a fun experience and a fun ride playing for Raheem.”
The Falcons have spent three straight top 10 picks on skill position players, and it very well could be a fourth in a row depending on how April’s draft shakes out. The club has to figure out the quarterback position first and foremost, but Robinson will have an embarrassment of riches at his disposal.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire