Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith's job appears safe for the 2023 season. According to NFL insider Jeff Schultz of The Athletic, Falcons owner Arthur Blank has not imposed a "win now, or else" ultimatum on Smith. Instead, Blank is expected to continue supporting the coach and allow the season to unfold without immediate consequences.
Schultz stated, "The only scenario in which Smith would not return as the team's coach in 2024 is if there is clear evidence that players are no longer responsive to his leadership or if the team experiences a complete collapse." Arthur Smith, who previously served as the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans, is currently in his third season as the Falcons' head coach.
In his first two seasons with the team, the Falcons posted a 7-10 record. Atlanta holds a 4-6 record and is grappling with a three-game losing streak, leading to increased scrutiny of Smith's performance. Fans have taken to social media to voice their discontent and call for the coach's dismissal during the upcoming bye week.
Smith's Resilient Response
In response to the criticism, Smith displayed resilience: "I come from a background as an offensive lineman, and I'm accustomed to facing criticism. In the past, criticism typically came as a newspaper column.
Nowadays, there are thousands of platforms for expressing outrage. I understand that. However, one cannot dwell on external factors beyond their control. As I mentioned earlier, professional sports may not be the right fit if you're concerned about such matters." Concerns among fans escalated when the Falcons suffered a narrow 25-23 loss to the then-1-8 Arizona Cardinals.
The team faces uncertainty regarding its starting quarterback following Desmond Ridder's performance against Arizona. Taylor Heinicke, the current starter, was sidelined due to injury, allowing Ridder to complete 66.7% of his passes for 39 yards in the fourth quarter.
Ridder nearly secured a victory for the Falcons, prompting discussions about a potential quarterback controversy. Smith acknowledged the quarterback situation, stating, "It certainly has an impact. We need to make a decision.
Des did an admirable job when he returned to the field. He remained confident, and his preparation was evident. He didn't hesitate. As I mentioned, he gave us a chance to win." Before his injury, Heinicke completed 53.3% of his passes for 55 yards and a touchdown.
Smith now faces a pivotal decision regarding the starting quarterback position. Despite their current record, the Falcons are only one game behind the 5-5 New Orleans Saints leading the NFC South. A division title remains within reach for the Falcons, and Smith's ability to prevent a complete unraveling of the team may determine his job security.