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Arthur Smith Fired From Falcons In Expected Start to “Black Monday”

“Black Monday” refers to the coach firings on the first Monday after the last NFL regular season Sunday, and things kicked off quick for the Atlanta Falcons, as they announced that they parted ways with Arthur Smith. Smith met with team owner Arthur Blank, founder and former CEO of Home Depot in the waning hours of Sunday to discuss his future with the team. No later than two minutes after the stroke of midnight, Black Monday began unceremoniously.


Arthur Smith coached the falcons to a 7-10 record in his third season with the team, and they had an outside shot to win the NFC South with a victory. However, the Saints outscored the Falcons 31-0, including a controversial garbage time touchdown that Smith was clearly unhappy with. In his three years with the Falcons, Arthur Smith finished 21-30, failing to earn a winning season or playoffs appearance.


"Decisions like this are never easy and they never feel good," Blank said in a statement. "We have profound respect for Coach Smith and appreciate all the hard work and dedication he has put into the Falcons over the last three years. He has been part of building a good culture in our football team, but the results on the field have not met our expectations. After significant thought and reflection, we have determined the best way forward for our team is new leadership in the head coaching position."


Blank and the Falcons announced that a coaching search would begin immediately.

Smith previously spent time as the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans, and was brought to Atlanta to revitalize a stagnant Falcons offense. However, the Falcons remained one-dimensional after bringing in Kyle Pitts, Bijan Robinson, and Drake London via the draft, partially due to inconsistent quarterback play.


Both Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinecke are under contract for 2024, and so Smith’s successor has a quarterback controversy on his hands. Ridder has no guaranteed money on his deal, and Heinecke is only owed $2 million in dead money if let go. Many Falcons fans call for wholesale change at the quarterback level via the draft, but that will be Terry Fontenont’s decision as the general manager. He was brought in alongside Smith in 2021, but remains with the team.


Smith’s tenure featured two defensive coordinators, Dean Pees and Ryan Nielsen. Nielsen constructed one of the NFL’s best defenses, and he is expected to remain with the Falcons.


The Falcons pick eighth in the draft in April.


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