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What are next steps for Falcons after firing head coach Arthur Smith?

Here’s how Atlanta needs to proceed after making a move at head coach.

Atlanta Falcons v Los Angeles Rams
Head coach Arthur Smith of the Atlanta Falcons looks on during the first half of the game against the Denver Broncos at SoFi Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Inglewood, California.
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons have decided to make a move at head coach, firing Arthur Smith after the conclusion of their 2023 NFL season. The Falcons had a chance to win the division and make the playoffs, but got embarrassed by the New Orleans Saints 48-17 in what was a fitting end to Smith’s disastrous tenure in Atlanta. Here’s a look at what Atlanta needs to do next after letting go of its head coach.

Improvements on Offense

Despite his background in offense, Smith was never quite able to get the Falcons going on that side of the ball. Here’s Atlanta’s offensive ranks over his three seasons as head coach.

2021: 29th in total yards, 16th in passing yards, 31st in rushing yards, 26th in scoring
2022: 24th in total yards, 31st in passing yards, 3rd in rushing yards, 15th in scoring
2023: 17th in total yards, 22nd in passing yards, 9th in rushing yards, 26th in scoring

Despite forming one of the better rushing attacks in the league, Smith’s teams were unable to move the ball well overall and failed to score at a clip high enough to make that type of run game valuable. It’s a passing league, no matter how old school you want to get. The Falcons need to make that the priority, especially with skill players like Bijan Robinson, Drake London and Kyle Pitts in the fold.

Find a New Head Coach

The first step is to find a new head coach. Owner Arthur Blank and CEO Rich McKay are apparently leading the search, with general manager Terry Fontenot also having some say in the decision. Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Brian Johnson and Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan are some of the top names on that side of the ball who could be elevated. Jim Harbaugh and Frank Reich are also potential names, while Commanders offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy could finally be given his shot.

Find a QB in the Draft

Assuming the Falcons can successfully land the head coach they want, the next move is to find the quarterback who can make all these pieces work. Atlanta has the eighth pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, and there’s a chance LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels is available. The Heisman Trophy winner would be electric in Atlanta, and can elevate the talent around him. The Falcons also probably need to grab a secondary receiver to complement London, and there’s plenty available in what looks to be a deep, talented draft class.

If the Falcons don’t like Daniels, the free agent market doesn’t look too great. Kirk Cousins, Ryan Tannehill and Baker Mayfield are all going to be unrestricted free agents, but the Falcons can’t have a stopgap quarterback. There’s also the possibility of the Chicago Bears moving on from Justin Fields, a Georgia native who spent some time at the University of Georgia before transferring to Ohio State. Trading for Fields might be viable, and the Falcons could use their other resources to bolster the offensive line.

The Falcons have embraced offense through their draft picks, and they’ll need their new coach and quarterback to cement that philosophy. This franchise has always been about putting up points and being flashy, so it’s time to put that into practice this offseason.