The Atlanta Falcons fired head coach Arthur Smith, the team announced on Sunday following a 48-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Atlanta entered Week 18 with a chance to win the NFC South, but the blowout defeat dropped the team to 7-10 for a third straight season under Smith.
“Decisions like this are never easy and they never feel good,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank said in a statement. “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.”
Smith, 41, originally joined the team in 2021 after a successful stint as the Tennessee Titans’ offensive coordinator.
The Falcons improved defensively this season compared to 2022, but the Smith-coached offense continued to struggle and ranked in the bottom 10 in points scored despite rostering some of football’s most promising skill-position players. The club drafted tight end Kyle Pitts, receiver Drake London, and running back Bijan Robinson in the top 10 ahead of each of the last three seasons.
Atlanta currently owns the No. 8 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Often questioned due to his play-calling, Smith also struggled to find consistency at quarterback during his time in Atlanta. The team has used three different Week 1 starters since 2021: Matt Ryan, Marcus Mariota, and Desmond Ridder. A 2022 third-round pick, Ridder tossed only 12 touchdowns to 12 interceptions while starting 13 games during the 2023 campaign.
The Falcons suffered one of their worst losses under Smith to the Saints in Week 18. He was heated postgame and went off on New Orleans coach Dennis Allen after the Saints scored a late touchdown while already leading by three possessions.
Smith leaves Atlanta with a .412 win percentage, which ranks eighth out of 11 head coaches who were on the Falcons’ sideline for at least three years, according to Greg Auman of Fox Sports.
The Falcons, who haven’t made the playoffs since the 2017 season, also announced that their search for a new sideline boss will begin immediately. They join the Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, and Carolina Panthers as the teams looking for a new head coach in 2024.