Falcons: What we learned from Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith during their first press conferences

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This afternoon, the Falcons introduced their new head coach and general manager in two separate press conferences. Given that they’ve both just accepted the jobs, the press conferences didn’t have too much substance regarding personnel or coaching decisions. They simply aren’t that far along in the process to know exactly what they plan to do in free agency, the draft, etc. However, the two still provided plenty of little nuggets Falcons fans should find intriguing, and I have a feeling most will like what they had to say.

Head coach first, Arthur Blank kicked off the press conference for Arthur Smith by saying that he was his top choice from the beginning of the process. The former Titans offensive coordinator received rave reviews from everybody Blank talked to, including Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs, who worked with Smith from 2007-2008, when he was a defensive quality control coach. Blank also said that Smith and Fontenot favored each other during the interview process, stating that Fontenot had already done his research and began reaching out to potential coaches.

That says a lot about Fontenot, and from the way he handled the press conference, it is exactly what I would have expected. William McFadden put it perfectly in this tweet regarding Fontenot’s first performance as an acting general manager.

Fontenot was that good today, and Falcons fans should be thrilled to have him as their next general manager. From his opening, when he gave a tribute to the late Vaughn Mcclure, to his preparation and bubbly personality throughout; he could not have made a more perfect impression in his first appearance as a Falcon.

Fontenot’s most substantial statement was regarding the draft and his approach. He says he is a strictly best player available guy, mentioning the great Ozzie Newsome’s approach — the longtime Ravens general manager. That’s especially intriguing, considering the Falcons currently have the fourth overall pick and could be looking to snag one of the fantastic quarterback prospects available. However, if he’s looking for the best player available, Penei Sewell or even Devonta Smith/Ja’Marr Chase could be in the cards.

Back to Smith, he sounded about exactly how you would expect a head coach to sound, preaching physicality, toughness, and accountability. I’m not going to put too much weight into those words because I’ve heard that all from Dan Quinn, but his already budding relationship with Fontenot is promising. The two are very excited to work with each other.

Like Fontenot, Smith was unwilling to comment on any personnel or coaching decisions — no matter how hard the media poked — but he did confirm that he will be calling the offense, which is something we expected. Fontenot also said he believes it is important for the team to have a “singular voice” during the season — the head coach.

Lastly, Blank confirmed Smith and Fontenot will report to Rich McKay. However, both said they regard McKay as someone they can lean on based on his experience, which echoed what they were saying throughout the press conference — the Falcons are a world-class organization from top to bottom — and that’s why Blank was able to hire both of his first choices.

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