Atlanta Falcons fire coach Arthur Smith after three seasons


Jan. 8 (UPI) -- The Atlanta Falcons fired head coach Arthur Smith after finishing 7-10 for a third-consecutive season, the team announced early Monday.

"Decisions like this are never easy and they never feel good," Falcons owner Arthur Blank said in a news release. "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."

Smith, Blank and Falcons CEO Rich McKay met Sunday night in the hours after the New Orleans Saints beat the Falcons 48-17 in New Orleans. Smith and McKay will now lead the search for a new coach. The Falcons do not have a timetable to complete the search.

The Falcons hired Smith on Jan. 15, 2021. The longtime Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator and assistant coach lost three of his first four games as a head coach before finishing his first 7-10 campaign. Smith got off to another slow start in 2022. He ended that season with wins in his last two games.

The Falcons started 2023 with two-consecutive victories for their first winning record during Smith's tenure. They went on to lose six of their next eight games. They earned two-consecutive victories after their Week 11 bye, but finished the season with losses in four of their final five appearances.

The Falcons ranked 17th in points scored and 11th in points allowed in 2023. They ranked 22nd in passing yards and 9th in rushing. The Falcons ranked 8th in passing yards allowed and 20th in rushing yards allowed.

The Falcons ranked 31st in passing yards and 25th in passing yards allowed in 2022. They ranked 3rd in rushing and 23rd in rushing yards allowed that season.

They ranked 25 in passing yards and 26th in passing yards allowed in Smith's first season. Those Falcons ranked 31st in rushing and 27th in rushing yards allowed in 2021.

Smith said he loved coaching after the Falcons' Week 18 loss, but did not elaborate on his job status.

"With any job, you got a lot of confidence, but I am not going to give a state of the union right now on everything that's happened the last three years," Smith told reporters. "The season just ended. Obviously, it wasn't the result we needed and clearly the second half got out of hand. Credit to New Orleans."

The Falcons won a division title just once since 2012. They haven't made the playoffs since 2017-18. They own the No. 8 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.