Headed into the 2022 season the Atlanta Falcons should have a lot of faith in second-year head coach Arthur Smith. Despite losing Matt Ryan and facing a tougher schedule this season Smith has a better roster and a year of experience to draw from.
While his rookie season was far from perfect Smith deserves a lot of credit for what Atlanta was able to accomplish. The Falcons managed a 7-10 record and stayed in the wildcard race late into the season despite having very little talent on their roster.
Smith gave Cordarrelle Patterson and Russell Gage large roles in the offense that saw both players find the consistent success they hadn’t in their careers. There was a noticeable difference in the effort the team played with compared to the previous two seasons.
The one major concern for Smith was his ability to pivot and his loyalty to his starters. While this is a great quality from a player’s perspective it led to some frustrating decisions including keeping Tajae Sharpe and Jalen Mayfield in the starting lineup when they clearly weren’t getting the job done.
Continuing Atlanta’s recent trend Smith struggled with managing the end of the game as well. Despite these errors, Smith’s first season was impressive considering the roster he had to work with. Heading into year two without Matt Ryan at the helm and a myriad of roster changes it is fair to wonder how much pressure Smith will be facing this season?
While the Atlanta Falcons should be evaluating Arthur Smith this season it shouldn’t be through the lens of wins and losses but rather through player development and his growth as a head coach.
The previous regime put the current Atlanta Falcons front office and coaching staff in a no-win position. This season is about creating cap space for the future and finding out who on the roster are the building blocks to form a contending team around.
Arthur Smith shouldn’t be put on the hot seat based on the failure Atlanta should already be expecting. If, however, he is unable to improve his game management at the end of games or there is a lack of player development Atlanta can consider making a change.
Otherwise, Smith should be given at least one rebuilding season with a roster and schedule that simply put aren’t setting him up for success. Despite the improved roster the Falcons should regress based simply on the improved schedule and the loss of Matt Ryan.