It is no secret the driving force of the Titans’ high powered offense was Derrick Henry, who was literally built in a football lab. Many fans in Atlanta might be concerned with the transference of Arthur Smith’s run-heavy offense to a team with Ito Smith and Qadree Ollison as the only running backs signed through next season. This is a reasonable concern, but I am here to ease your worries.
You can find multiple instances where Arthur Smith eluded to molding his system to the offenses’ strengths, which would be Matt Ryan and the receiving trio of Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Hayden Hurst. Arthur Blank pointed out that Smith’s ability to form his offense around the talent he’s afforded was a factor in the hire.
Arthur Blank on Smith: "Players love him. He's very creative. He produced at a high level at Tennessee. He adopted an offense around their players, in this case, their outstanding running back and their quarterback."
— Mike Conti (@MikeConti929) January 19, 2021
In Tennessee’s case, it was Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill. He recognized he had a thoroughbred in the stables, so he ran the ball. To maximize his workhorse’s production, he then injected play-action. It is just a natural relationship of running the ball and throwing out of play-action after establishing the run. Smith referenced the greatest center of all time, Shaq, in a metaphor to describe Henry.
Arthur Smith said the Tennessee offense adapted to Derrick Henry: "It's like having Shaquille O'Neal in his prime. You have to feed the big fella."
— Jason Butt (@JasonHButt) January 19, 2021
Obviously, every coach would love to have someone with King Henry’s combination of size and speed. But that isn’t reasonable, just like there is only one Shaq; there is one Derrick Henry. This metaphor can be similarly used on Julio Jones, though. Don’t you think that Smith can adapt his run-heavy offense into a pass-happy offense that can lean on the run? Look to Matt LaFleur’s time with the Titans, where they ran the ball second-most in the league.
in 2020 with the Titans, Arthur Smith had the #1 most run heavy offense*
in 2018, then Titans OC Matt LaFleur had the #2 most run heavy offense (56% run)*
but in 2020 in GB, LaFleur is only 47% run* & has the best deep passing game in the NFL
*early downs, qtrs 1-3 https://t.co/hhPvPaWnXd
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) January 15, 2021
Just as Matt LaFleur comes from a background of running the ball but adapts his offense, realizing he has Aaron Rodgers. Expect the same thing from Arthur Smith. Ryan Tannehill isn’t even in the same conversation as Matt Ryan. He’s only being mentioned because of Arthur Smith. If you think that Matty Ice couldn’t do exactly what Tannehill has done the past two years in Tennessee, you’re delusional. Arthur Smith knows he isn’t as limited throwing the ball now that he has a former MVP at quarterback.
A.J. Brown and Corey Davis are also not even close to Julio and Calvin, though they might be better and more willing blockers — that’s the only instance Brown and Davis are superior. Don’t take a literal approach to what Smith did with the Titans. The Falcons offense will have the basic principles of Smith’s past offense, but it will be adjusted to make the most out of the skill sets of Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Hayden Hurst.