The Atlanta Falcons have landed their man in their head coaching search.
The Falcons announced Friday that they have agreed to terms with Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith as the team’s new head coach. The deal was confirmed by the team’s official website, though terms were not disclosed.
The 38-year-old Smith quickly moved onto the head coaching radar after his success with the Titans, where he helped Derrick Henry become one of the NFL’s most feared running backs. He also played a significant role in reviving the career of quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Under Smith, the Titans were the third-ranked offense in the league in 2020 in terms of total yards per game.
The Falcons were clearly impressed with Smith, who had been the frontrunner for the job throughout the entire process. In the end, the team clearly got the guy they were after.
The Atlanta Falcons may be zeroing in on their choice for the team’s new head coach.
According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith is believed to be the frontrunner for the Falcons’ vacancy. Smith had a second interview with the Falcons on Wednesday, and the belief is that the job could be his to lose.
Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady is said to remain in the mix as well, but appears to be the team’s second choice for the moment.
The 38-year-old Smith just concluded his second season as the Titans’ offensive coordinator. Even before vacancies opened up, he was being named as a hot head coaching candidate due in part to the career-best efforts Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry have posted under Smith’s stewardship.
It’s clear that the Falcons are looking for an offensive-minded head coach during their interview process. Smith and Brady are both offensive minds, and so is this other candidate Atlanta recently interviewed.
Photo: Chipermc/Wikimedia via cc by-sa 4.0
One of the hottest names on the coaching market is apparently impressing in his interviews.
Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy has a strong interview with the Atlanta Falcons on Monday, according to Steve Wyche of NFL.com. A team source said they “absolutely refute” an earlier rumor that Bieniemy did not interview well, adding that Falcons officials were “furious” about that characterization.
Bieniemy was “prepared, knew everything about the team, had a great plan and is a bona fide candidate,” according to the source. Wyche describes him as “very much in the mix” to be hired as the Falcons’ new coach.
Bieniemy comes consistently recommended by many in the game, including Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. In theory, he’d be a great fit for a team with the potential to be dynamic on offense.
Despite the Falcons interview going well, one rumor indicates that Bieniemy has his eye on a different coaching job.
San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is expected to be one of the hottest names on the coaching market this offseason, and it’s shaping up that way so far.
49ers general manager John Lynch revealed Monday that the Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Atlanta Falcons have all asked for permission to interview Saleh for their head coaching positions. That means at least three of the six teams with coaching vacancies want to talk to Saleh, with more to possibly come.
Saleh was a big-name coaching candidate last offseason after the 49ers reached the Super Bowl, largely on the strength of his defensive unit. This year he appears even more likely to land a job. He’s been linked to the Lions before, as he is a Michigan native who got his start in coaching at Michigan State.
The Jaguars’ request is an indication that they are running a full and comprehensive search, even though it sounds like there’s one huge name they may be targeting.
As expected, Eric Bieniemy is in high demand as an NFL head coach candidate.
The Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator has at least three interviews lined up for head coaching vacancies around the league. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, and New York Jets have formally requested permission to speak to Bieniemy about their coaching positions.
It’s no surprise to see Bieniemy near the top of a lot of teams’ wishlists. That was the case last offseason as well, though he didn’t land a job then. Bieniemy, who has been in charge of the Kansas City offense since 2018, has received a lot of credit for the Chiefs’ exciting and innovative offense. It seems like he has an excellent chance of getting a job this time around.
It’s worth noting the absence of one team from this list that has a quarterback that appears very interested in working with Bieniemy.
The Atlanta Falcons already have a few interviews lined up for their head coach job.
The Falcons are set to interview Robert Saleh and Eric Bieniemy on Monday.
The Falcons finished 4-12 this season for their third straight losing season. They fired Dan Quinn midway through the year and replaced him with interim head coach Raheem Morris.
Morris is also a candidate to keep the job, but it’s possible Atlanta will want to look outside the franchise to fill the job.
Saleh, 41, has been the 49ers’ defensive coordinator since 2017. Bieniemy, 51, has been the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator since 2018.
The Atlanta Falcons are coming off another unsuccessful season, and an extensive rebuild may be in the cards. That has led some to wonder if the team might part with one of its franchise players.
In his recent column collecting predictions by NFL executives, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler writes that there is some belief that the Falcons could try to shop wide receiver Julio Jones during the offseason. Fowler notes that a deal is unlikely, but one NFC executive points out that salary cap restrictions may force some teams to sell and make big names available on the trade market. Jones, who has a cap hit over $23 million in 2021, could be an option.
Fowler notes that a 31-year-old wide receiver with recurring hamstring injuries would typically be unlikely to attract much interest. However, Jones’ long-term status as one of the game’s best and toughest wide receivers would negate many of the negatives. In addition, the structure of Jones’ contract would allow teams to move on with no financial penalty after one season if things don’t work out.
Jones’ name came up in trade rumors before the deadline, and he made clear where he wants to be in response to those. Still, it may make sense for the Falcons to see what’s out there, even if a trade is probably unlikely.
Photo: Lisa Ferdinando/U.S. Secretary of Defense via CC-BY 2.0
Younghoe Koo has had an outstanding two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons after his NFL career got off to a rocky start, but his missed field goal on Sunday is something that will haunt him for a very long time.
Koe had a chance to send the Falcons and Kansas City Chiefs to overtime with a 39-yard field goal. He pushed it right, and Atlanta lost 17-14.
Koe has been arguably the best kicker in the NFL this season. He had made 35 of 36 field goals on the season prior to Sunday’s miss. Koe has gone 8-for-8 from 50-plus yards on the year.
Koe made just 3 of 6 field goals with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2017 before they moved on from him. It would not have been a surprise if his career was over at that point, but he landed with the Falcons last year and made the most of it. He’s come a long way from the reports we heard about him before the season, but Sunday’s missed kick was as brutal as it gets.
Week 15 featured some of the most unexpected results of the entire NFL season — who saw the New York Jets winning, after all? Add in a bunch of dramatic and bizarre finishes, and it’s fair to say things are getting a bit wild as we move closer to the playoffs.
Who’s really going to regret how they performed this week? Here are five big disappointments from the weekend’s action.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are almost certainly still headed for the playoffs. They even have a chance to win the NFC West, albeit not a great one. Still, those factors made it all the more shocking to see them lose to the New York Jets on Sunday, giving their opponents a first win of 2020. Jared Goff looked dreadful, and the offense sleepwalked until the second half. Sean McVay’s playcalling was unusual. In addition, key plays — including a 20-yard touchdown run by Cam Akers — were wiped out by penalties and bad discipline. Maybe this loss will function as a wakeup call for the Rams. Maybe it’s a sign of big trouble ahead.
It’s hard to imagine how it keeps happening, but the Falcons once again blew another big lead. This time they blew a 24-7 advantage in the third quarter. Tom Brady did it to them again. It’s hard to imagine that this isn’t at least partly mental at this point, even if the roster has turned over significantly over the past few years. The Falcons are a team waiting for bad things to happen. To be fair to them, they usually do, and they’re not always the fault of the players.
Keke Coutee, WR, Texans
The Texans are another team that seemingly goes out of its way to find ways to lose. They were rallying against the Indianapolis Colts, pushing for a game-tying touchdown, when Coutee simply lost control of the football. Perhaps the most amazing thing about this? It’s the second time in three weeks the Texans have botched this exact scenario against the same team. They really just need this season to be over.
New England Patriots’ offense
The Dolphins have become a very good defensive team, and they deserve full credit for shutting down New England in a 22-12 win. But it’s amazing how bad the Patriots’ offense has gotten. They were only able to manage 303 total yards on Sunday, with Cam Newton throwing for 209 of them and once again failing to find the end zone. They have few weapons and little juice. Predictions of Newton rediscovering his MVP form under Bill Belichick were woefully off the mark. It’s fitting, in a way, that the Patriots’ playoff streak was broken on the back of a performance like this, because it illustrated everything wrong with the team right now.
Drew Brees, QB, Saints
Brees wanted to play in a huge game against the Chiefs, and you can’t really blame him for that. However, coming off 11 fractured ribs, he looked rusty and errant for most of the afternoon. Brees only seemed to lock in late when he finally engineered a quality drive in the fourth quarter to keep things close. Ultimately, it was his inconsistency before that point that put the Saints in a hole. Brees was only 15/34 for 234 yards. He did find the end zone three times and was intercepted once, but he was fortunate that he didn’t have two or three more picks. Brees should get better once the rust comes off, but he was bad on Sunday.
Tom Brady once again orchestrated an improbable comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have gotten some help from the officiating crew at the end of the game.
The Bucs were leading 31-27 late in the fourth quarter when they turned Atlanta over on downs deep in Falcons territory. Tampa Bay needed just one first down to deal the victory, and they picked it up with a very generous spot on Leonard Fournette’s third-down run. Fournette appeared to reach his arm forward after being down well short of the line, but the official who spotted the ball gave him the benefit of the doubt.
One official actually slid the ball forward, presumably because he believed Fournette reached out before his arm hit the turf.
A bad spot is one thing, but the measurement itself appeared to greatly benefit the Bucs. It looked like the ball was still short even after the generous spot, and the official tilted the stick in the Bucs’ favor.
The Falcons will almost certainly want a word with the NFL over that, though they have no one to blame for the loss but themselves. They were leading 24-7 at one point and blew yet another massive lead. As you probably could have predicted, that led to some hilarious Super Bowl meltdown memes.
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have teamed up yet again! Treat yourself or a friend with this great Tampa Fiesta shirt. You can buy it here.