The Dirty Birds will welcome a new head coach for next season. The Atlanta Falcons hired Arthur Smith, the Tennessee Titans’ former offensive coordinator, to become their next head coach.
Arthur Blank, the Falcons owner, is still seeking the franchise’s first championship. They appeared in the Super Bowl twice, but lost both times.
Smith, who’s only 38-years old, inherits a losing team that went 4-12 last season. Due to their dismal record, the Falcons locked up the #4 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
After an 0-5 start, the Falcons cleaned house and fired their general manager and head coach Dan Quinn. Interim head coach Raheem Morris finished out the season and went 4-7 in 11 games. The team decided to go in a different direction and conducted a thorough search to replace Morris.
Smith edged out a strong crop of coordinators including Todd Bowles (Tampa Bay DC and ex-Jets head coach), Eric Bieniemy (Kansas City OC), Robert Saleh (San Francisco DC), Nathaniel Hackett (Green Bay OC), and Joe Brady (Carolina OC).
Arthur Smith Paid His Dues in Nashville
Smith joined the Tennessee Titans in 2011 where he slowly worked his way up the ranks before earning a promotion to offensive coordinator. He spent the last two seasons as the Titans’ OC under Mike Vrabel. Smith gets credit for turning around Ryan Tannenhill’s career after Adam Gase nearly ruined him with the Miami Dolphins. Tannenhill earned a spot in the Pro Bowl and won the Comeback Player of the Year.
In 2020, the Titans were ranked #4 in scoring (30.7 ppg). In 2019, during Smith’s first season as OC, the Titans went deep into the playoffs with an appearance in the AFC Championship game.
Over the past two seasons, Smith engineered the top red-zone offense in the NFL, generating touchdowns 75.2% of the time.
We have agreed to terms with Arthur Smith to become our next head coach.
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) January 15, 2021
Smith Replaces Not So Mighty Quinn
In six seasons, Dan Quinn coached 85 games and went 43-42. He guided the Falcons to a Super Bowl berth during the 2016 season where the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick prevailed 34-28 in overtime, and the Falcons still haven’t recovered from that heartbreaking loss.
The team slowly imploded in the ensuing years. The Falcons went 10-6 in 2017 to secure a wild-card spot, but lost in the NFC Divisional round. That would be the last time they qualified for the postseason.
The Falcons went 7-9 in 2018 and 2019. They finished last season 4-12.
Odd Mix of Atlanta Falcons Head Coaches
The fledgling Falcons qualified for the playoffs only three times between 1966 and 1990, including only one postseason victory in 1978.
Jerry Glanville, clad in black cowboy boots and black clothes on the sidelines, turned around Atlanta’s fortunes, but they won only one wild-card game during the 1991 season. Glanville went 27-37 in four seasons with the Falcons.
Dan Reeves was the first head coach to instill a lasting, winning culture, even though he had only two winning seasons in Atlanta. He guided the Falcons to an appearance in Super Bowl XXIII against his old team, the Denver Broncos. Alas, the Broncos prevailed.
|LIST ATLANTA FALCONS HEAD COACHES|
- Norb Hecker (1966-1968) 4-26-1
- Norm Van Brocklin (1968-1974) 37-49-3
- Marion Campbell (1974-1976) 6-19
- Pat Peppler (1976) 3-6
- Leeman Bennett (1977-1982) 46-41
- Dan Henning (1983-1986) 22-41
- Marion Campbell (1987-1989) 11-32
- Jim Hanifan (1989) 0-4
- Jerry Glanville (1990-1993) 27-37
- June Jones (1994-1996) 19-29
- Dan Reeves (1997-2003) 49-59-1
- Wade Phillips (2003) 2-1
- Jim L. Mora (2004-2006) 26-22
- Bobby Petrino (2007) 3-10
- Emmit Thomas (2007) 1-2
- Mike Smith (2008-2014) 66-46
- Dan Quinn (2015-2020) 43-42
- Raheem Morris (2020) 4-7
- Arthur Smith (2021-) TBD
In his first five seasons in Atlanta, Mike Smith went 56-24 and won 13 games twice. He took the Falcons to the playoffs four times in five seasons. The one year they missed, the Falcons bubbled with a 9-7 record. However, Smith’s Atlanta teams always fizzled out in the postseason going 1-4 in the playoffs.
The Falcons had to wait 18 years before they returned to the Super Bowl during the 2016 season. That bittersweet memory is a painful one for many fans after the huge choke job against the Patriots in Super Bowl LI. Quinn went 3-2 in the postseason with the Falcons.
Check out our complete list of Super Bowl champions and winners.