Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank has been calling people he trusts within the league for advice regarding the future of his team, sources told Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.
There continues to be support for head coach Arthur Smith in the building, but the owner fielding advice is a sign he’s weighing potential changes, Rapoport and Pelissero add.
“We are committed to coach Smith,” Blank said in December, according to Jeff Hullinger of Georgia Public Broadcasting. “We are going to play these last three games; we are committed to win. We will let the season play out and go from there.”
He added: “Obviously, this has not been the kind of year we expected; you would hear that from coach Smith, you would hear it from our fans and our players. We understand that.”
The Falcons still have a shot at making the playoffs. They can win the NFC South with a victory over the New Orleans Saints in Week 18 and a Tampa Bay Buccaneers loss against the Carolina Panthers. Atlanta has a 17% chance of making the postseason, according to the New York Times playoff simulator.
The Falcons have had a disappointing 2023 campaign. They’re 7-9 and have lost three of their last four contests heading into the season finale.
After investing heavily in offense, Atlanta ranks 26th in points per game this season. The team has selected an offensive playmaker in the top 10 in three straight drafts, including star running back Bijan Robinson, who hasn’t eclipsed 100 yards rushing in a single contest since Oct. 1.
The quarterback position has been the club’s Achilles’ heel this year. Second-year signal-caller Desmond Ridder has failed to secure the starting job, going 6-6 in 12 starts with 17 turnovers.
Taylor Heinicke is considered a game-time decision for the team’s Week 18 matchup due to an ankle injury.