Falcons: Arthur Smith showcasing his coaching prowess already

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When Arthur Smith was hired, many in Atlanta were pleased. After all, he was courted by pretty much every team that had a head coaching vacancy. However, he’s yet to coach in a regular-season game, so there is much to be determined whether it was, in fact, a smart hire over someone like Eric Bieniemy, Bradon Staley, or Robert Saleh. His first opportunity to be the head coach of a football team in a live game was last Friday night, but before the preseason matchup with the Titans, he displayed some impressive insight into the preseason — beginning to show his acumen as a head coach.

In the clip above, Smith reminds us that it is a preseason game. Yes, as competitors, he wants to win, but certain instances require different strategies. To evaluate the roster most effectively, having tape of players in a particular position battle doing the same rep in different circumstances is vital, as he points out. It won’t happen as perfectly as they would hope for because the games are so unpredictable, but there will be a clear effort by Smith’s staff to make evaluating the roster easier for the front office.

If you watched the Tennessee game, you saw this first hand. The offense could be critiqued on nearly every play, but the defense gave the staff a bit more to compliment.

Evaluations are difficult, so making it as easy as possible shows the intelligence of this front office and Smith’s pedigree as a coach. I’m sure most teams do this, but at least Atlanta is one of them. He knows exactly how the NFL works and once again showed off his impressive characteristics — reminding the media, analysts, and fans to keep perspective when watching the rookies before the game took place.

“It’s all about keeping perspective,” stated Smith. “Everyone wants to be so quick to make snap judgments and label this, and you get narratives going that are just not true. Whether it happens Friday night, a guy has eight catches, I’ve seen that, or quarterback throws 350 yards. Well, it may have been a soft two minutes, may have been down three possessions. There’s a lot of narratives being built, but ultimately the story will be told as the season’s over and hopefully when these guys have long careers.”

Smith isn’t going to give roster spots away after one game, let alone one play. These guys will be competing until September, and though the preseason games have a significant impact on the staff’s evaluation, Smith seems to want well-rounded men, not just football players. They’ll be evaluated on everything, and I believe the Falcons are in good hands with such an approach.

Smith also didn’t flirt with playing most starters, including rookie Kyle Pitts, which I believe to be a wise decision. The only player/position group I wish we saw in Friday’s preseason matchup was the offensive line, more specifically, Matt Hennessy. Veterans don’t need the preseason to get ready, in my opinion; still, the Falcons have two more preseason games that could provide time for the first-team offense and defense to get a couple of series.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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