May 27, 2024

Arthur Smith’s tenure with the Falcons came to an end, and he reflects on some key lessons learned during his time in Atlanta, particularly regarding his strategic focus on quarterback Desmond Ridder. Smith acknowledges that placing confidence in Ridder’s abilities turned out to be a costly decision, as the third-round pick’s inconsistent performance and high red zone turnovers became a significant hindrance to the offense and the team overall. Despite Ridder being projected as the franchise quarterback, Smith did not anticipate the extent of his struggles.

State of Falcons roster after 2023 NFL Draft

The Falcons ultimately parted ways with Smith, despite his plea for a fourth season, citing the need for a new quarterback to unlock the team’s top 10 potential. While acknowledging the validity of this argument, Smith will not be able to see the plan through with the Falcons. Under Raheem Morris’ leadership, the Falcons are now seeking to upgrade the quarterback position, entrusting Zac Robinson with the task of maximizing the potential of three consecutive top 10 draft picks.

In his new role as the offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers under Mike Tomlin, Smith reflects on the lessons learned in Atlanta and how they can be applied in Pittsburgh. He acknowledges the unique challenge of rebuilding a team in Atlanta, with both positive and challenging lessons. Smith believes these experiences will be valuable in Pittsburgh, particularly in working with young players and tailoring the offense to their strengths. However, the toughest lesson learned in Atlanta was likely the risk associated with relying on a third-round pick for the quarterback position.

Smith acknowledges the remarkable talent in Pittsburgh, with Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, George Pickens, Allen Robinson, Pat Freiermuth, and Darnell Washington forming a capable skill group. However, Smith recognizes that the success of the Steelers’ offense will heavily depend on quarterback Kenny Pickett. Drawing from his experience in Atlanta, Smith emphasizes the importance of having a reliable backup plan, suggesting that investing in a dependable backup could be wise for the Steelers. Despite Ryan Tannehill not being viewed as a long-term solution, his familiarity with Smith makes him an attractive option for Tomlin, Omar Khan, and the Steelers.

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