With a new head coach comes a new culture and system. Your guess of the players that don’t acclimate to the new culture is as good as mine. Accountability seems to be the focal point of Arthur Smith’s philosophy, but how do we guess which players are culpable of being unreliable yet. Knowing the scheme that Smith brings with him enables us to identify who should thrive — in theory. Those that should flourish the most under Smith are below.
Stats might mislead, but they never lie. Ryan Tannehill was a better quarterback the last two seasons than anyone ever imagined he’d be after his seven years in Miami. Tennessee’s offense set multiple personal and team records; just don’t expect the same to happen in Atlanta this first year. Similar to how Aaron Rodgers played last year in his first year with Matt LaFleur, Matt Ryan will have to adjust to what Arthur Smith is trying to do. He will surely have more opportunities to succeed under Smith than Dirk Koetter, but it is unrealistic to expect MVP numbers in his first year in the new offense. With the expectations now lowered, nobody will benefit more than Matt Ryan with the addition of Arthur Smith.
In his first year as the primary tight end, Hayden Hurst showed exactly why he was a first-round pick. His ability to convert short completions into chunk plays is second to none in the NFL. I actually think that Dirk Koetter utilized Hurst well. But with what Arthur Smith was able to do with Anthony Firkser is impressive. Expect Hurst to still run plenty of short routes for the possibility of an explosive play, but he will be thrilled to prove he is just as valuable, threatening the middle of the field. Hurst will not only benefit greatly within Arthur Smith’s scheme, but his new head coach’s background is in… tight ends. Expect Hurst to improve in every facet of the game.
Arthur Smith is a former offensive lineman himself, so expect his presence to affect the entire offensive line positively. Not only will Smith be able to identify and correct bad technique, but he can also scheme around insufficient improvement. He kept the Titans’ offense scoring 30 points per game after losing Taylor Lewan and then his backup and former Falcon Ty Sambrailo. To help the short-handed offensive line, he kept tight ends — Jonnu Smith and Anthony Firkser — in more often to block. Doing so without surrendering any points.
I don’t have any defensive players on this list because Arthur Smith’s expertise resides on the offensive side of the ball. That isn’t to say any number of defensive players couldn’t prosper under Smith’s guidance; it just isn’t as obvious as the aforementioned beneficiaries.