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Becky Taylor: OPINION: The Falcons fired Arthur Smith. I'm not dancing.

Jan. 9—Arthur Smith won't be the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons this fall.

Smith, who finished 7-10 in his first year with the Falcons and then went 7-10 and yet another 7-10, was fired just after midnight Monday after a 48-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

At one point, Atlanta was a lock for the postseason. They floundered, stunk it up, gave Carolina only its second win of the year and then saw Smith reduced to whining about a late Saints touchdown, after the Falcons did jack diddly squat after being tied 17-17 at halftime.

I don't know who a good candidate is for Atlanta. Problem is, the coaches who are actually good in the NFL tend to be employed by other teams.

I am one of many who have long been ready to move on from Smith. But I am a bit torn. No, not for Smith, but about what comes next. Atlanta could do worse. Much worse.

Smith lost a lot of frustrating games and his offenses never developed. That was better than the situations in Las Vegas and Carolina, which led to midseason firings of Josh McDaniels and Frank Reich, respectively. Whereas Smith's team mostly didn't function, at least there wasn't the culture of dysfunction, which plagued both of those teams.

It's not like owner Arthur Blank hasn't hired worse — remember Bobby Petrino? There have been plenty of low points in Atlanta Falcons history. That season might be the lowest, with arguably even more dysfunction than what is currently happening with Carolina.

Atlanta will also be looking for a quarterback to go along with its head coach.

I'm not as down on Desmond Ridder as others. Do I think he's actually great? No, but Smith (and general manager Terry Fontenot) did fail him plenty.

For all of Atlanta's splashy draft picks, Bijan Robinson, Drake London, Kyle Pitts, the team made no effort to help Ridder in a pretty crucial area: a credible vertical threat. London plays more like a tight end. Official stats show London's longest catch this year was 45 yards.

Pitts, Mack Hollins and Jonnu Smith are tight ends. The actual deep threats Atlanta had this year were KhaDarel Hodge and Van Jefferson. Jefferson was picked up midseason.

Instead, Feleipe Franks still occupies a roster spot. Franks, the shaky former Florida and Arkansas quarterback, failed at that in Atlanta and then became a tight end project. I guess he still is. Last year he had more penalties than catches, which is zero on the receptions end and two on the penalties, according to the website NFL Penalties, which had a log for every team. He apparently didn't play a single snap this year, which is the exact same amount of NFL snaps I played. We're also even on catches.

Franks, of course, isn't the reason for Atlanta's woes, but is just another example of its dismalness.

I envy those optimistic for the Falcons' future. I estimate about 84.3% of my lifetime watching the team has been misery.

Unlike the Chicago Cubs and Detroit Lions who have made a name brand of being lovable losers, Atlanta isn't cute like that. The heartbreaking losses by Atlanta are rarely because they played over their heads and just weren't good enough at the end. Many come down to ineptitude and bad decisions.

I was there for 28-3 in the Super Bowl, there for Jim Mora Jr.'s sideline phone call to find out what exactly a tie would do for his playoff chances. I saw Todd Gurley stumble into the end zone when he was supposed to go down at the 1 and run out the clock and I know all the steps of the Dirty Bird.

At least the saga of Dave Hampton came before my time. In 1972, the Falcons paused their game with the Chiefs when Hampton surpassed 1,000 rushing yards. Being Atlanta, Hampton remained in the game and was immediately swallowed for a loss and ended at 995. In 1973, Hampton ran for 997 yards before being hurt in 1974. At least they got him there, to 1,002 in 1975.

It is a cursed franchise.

(For those simply saying to move on and find a better team, I'm afraid it's too late. When I was a teen, my father apologized for raising me a Falcons fan. I can't turn back now. We're all given crosses to bear in life, and suffering through Falcons games is one of mine.)

Back to the draft.

Does Atlanta need a new QB? Absolutely. Even if Ridder were the future, he has no place here. Ridder deserves a fresh team and an actual development program. At least he's not Bryce Young, the No. 1 pick who's now trapped by both his No. 1 status and the Carolina Panthers' terrible decisions.

Taylor Heinicke looked indistinguishable from Ridder while he was in for the most part, maybe slightly more confident while throwing interceptions. He's enough of an anonymous backup that he can stick around.

Atlanta gets its usual "OK but not great" draft position for its 7-10 mark, No. 8. The Falcons picked eighth last year and eighth in 2022. At least they still have a pick. That was the cherry on top of the Carolina mess it that the 2-15 record won't even get the Panthers the top pick. They had already traded that way to Chicago.

USA Today's mock draft four QBs in the first round. Jayden Daniels looked quite special for LSU this year, but the top three teams in the draft all need quarterbacks. Atlanta does not need to Carolina this up and make a big reach. I'd almost be willing to lowball the Bears for Justin Fields. Like Ridder, he too could use a new environment. Unlike Ridder, Fields might blossom.

Atlanta does not a miracle turnaround. We've been around too long to expect much. A little progress, a little competency, now that would go a long way.