June 13, 2024

Everything the Steelers learned in Latrobe, and what's next - ESPNThe Atlanta Falcons sacked head coach Arthur Smith almost a month ago after three very different seasons concluded with the same outcome: a 7-10 record and no postseason appearance.

Smith’s tenure came to an abrupt end after Atlanta dropped its final four games and he became enraged with New Orleans Saints head coach Dennis Allen during his farewell midfield handshake after the game.

Now, the 42-year-old Smith—who was replaced as defensive coordinator by Raheem Morris of the Los Angeles Rams—is back in front of the camera, but this time he’s wearing black and gold as the newest offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Smith talked briefly about his time in Atlanta in an exclusive interview with the official website of the Pittsburgh Steelers, starting with expressing thanks.

“Obviously thankful to be a part of Pittsburgh, but as all the different stops on my coaching journey, very grateful for the opportunity I had in Atlanta,” Smith stated.

The Falcons were coming off their worst season in seven years, a 4-12 campaign, when Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot were hired in January 2021.

With a dated roster and severe wage cap constraints, Smith and Fontenot were forced to start again.

With scores of 7–10 in the previous two seasons, they substantially surpassed predictions, and following their $190 million free agency expenditure, they projected a significant improvement in Year 3.

Rather, Atlanta lost steam in the final stretch, reverting to where it was so accustomed to at the beginning of December—watching the playoffs from a distance.

Smith’s departure was eventually caused by the lackluster campaign and the brewing criticism surrounding the organization.

Smith will carry his Atlanta experiences with him into the next stage of his career, even if he left the team early and maybe without fulfilling his potential.

“It was a unique situation, essentially rebuilding a team” stated Smith. “Some worthwhile lessons were discovered. Although it was a difficult lesson, I’ll be able to apply it here, particularly with some of our younger players and how to fit them into the attack and play to their strengths.”

In the first round of each of Smith’s drafts, the Falcons selected offensive weapons tight end Kyle Pitts, receiver Drake London, and running back Bijan Robinson.

With 68 catches, Pitts broke the franchise record for rookie catches, but London’s 72 catches beat it. With 1,026 receiving yards, Pitts also had the second-highest rookie tight end receiving yardage in league history.

Robinson recorded 1,463 scrimmage yards and eight touchdowns, shattering the franchise record most rookie yards from scrimmage.

With Tyler Allgeier, a fifth-round pick who shattered Atlanta’s rookie rushing record in 2022 with 1,035 yards, Smith and Fontenot also had success.

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