The Pittsburgh Steelers have made a surprising move by hiring former Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith as their new offensive coordinator. Smith, who was fired by the Falcons after three consecutive 7-10 seasons, was reportedly in high demand by several other teams, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were scheduled to interview him next. However, the Steelers acted swiftly and decisively to secure Smith’s services, signing him to a three-year contract.
Why did the Steelers choose Smith over other candidates? And what can he bring to the Steelers’ offense that was lacking in the previous regime? Here are some reasons why Smith is the right choice for the Steelers’ offense.
Smith has a proven track record of developing quarterbacks and running backs
One of the main reasons why the Steelers hired Smith is his ability to develop quarterbacks and running backs, two positions that are crucial for the Steelers’ success. Smith was the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans from 2019 to 2020, where he oversaw the remarkable transformation of Ryan Tannehill from a mediocre passer to a Pro Bowl quarterback. Under Smith, Tannehill led the NFL in passer rating in 2019 and was fifth in 2020, throwing for 55 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in two seasons. Tannehill also improved his mobility and efficiency, averaging 8.5 yards per attempt and rushing for 11 touchdowns in two years.
Smith also helped unleash the full potential of Derrick Henry, who became the NFL’s leading rusher in both 2019 and 2020, breaking the 2,000-yard mark in the latter season. Henry was a dominant force in the Titans’ offense, averaging 5.2 yards per carry and scoring 33 touchdowns in two years. Smith’s scheme was based on a balanced and creative attack, featuring a lot of play-action, misdirection, and pre-snap motion, that kept defenses guessing and opened up lanes for Henry and Tannehill.
The Steelers could use Smith’s expertise in developing their own quarterback and running back situation, which was one of the weakest points of their offense in 2020. Ben Roethlisberger, who is 39 years old and coming off a major elbow surgery, had a disappointing season, throwing for 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, with a career-low 6.3 yards per attempt. Roethlisberger also struggled with accuracy, mobility, and decision-making, often resorting to short and predictable passes that limited the Steelers’ explosiveness. The Steelers’ running game was even worse, ranking last in the NFL in rushing yards (1,351), yards per carry (3.6), and touchdowns (12). The Steelers’ offensive line, which was once one of the best in the league, also regressed significantly, failing to create holes for the running backs or protect Roethlisberger.
Smith could help revitalize the Steelers’ offense by implementing a similar system that he used in Tennessee, tailored to the Steelers’ personnel and strengths. Smith could help Roethlisberger regain his confidence and efficiency, by designing plays that suit his arm strength and experience, and by incorporating more play-action and deep shots to take advantage of the Steelers’ talented receivers. Smith could also help improve the Steelers’ running game, by finding a suitable running back in the draft or free agency, and by scheming ways to create more space and opportunities for the runners. Smith could also work on improving the Steelers’ offensive line, by coaching them on better techniques and schemes, and by adding some new pieces to the unit.
Smith has a flexible and adaptable philosophy
Another reason why the Steelers hired Smith is his flexibility and adaptability as an offensive coordinator. Smith is not tied to any specific system or style, but rather adjusts his offense to the personnel and the situation. Smith has shown that he can run different types of offenses, depending on the strengths and weaknesses of his players and the opponents. Smith has also shown that he can adapt to changing circumstances, such as injuries, turnovers, or game flow, and make the necessary adjustments to keep his offense on track.
Smith’s flexibility and adaptability were evident in his tenure as the Falcons’ head coach, where he inherited a team that was in a rebuilding mode and had a lot of challenges. Smith had to deal with an aging and expensive quarterback in Matt Ryan, a star receiver who wanted out in Julio Jones, a lack of talent and depth in the offensive line and the running back position, and a defense that was among the worst in the league. Smith also had to face a tough schedule, playing in a competitive division and facing some of the best teams in the league.
Despite these obstacles, Smith managed to keep the Falcons competitive and respectable, finishing with a 7-10 record in each of his three seasons. Smith’s offense was not as explosive or productive as it was in Tennessee, but it was still respectable, ranking in the top half of the league in most categories. Smith’s offense was also diverse and versatile, featuring different formations, personnel groups, and play calls, that kept defenses off balance and exploited mismatches. Smith also showed his ability to adapt to different situations, such as when he lost Jones to a trade, when he drafted tight end Kyle Pitts in the first round, when he had to deal with injuries to key players, or when he had to play from behind or protect a lead.
The Steelers could benefit from Smith’s flexibility and adaptability, as they face a lot of uncertainty and change in their offense. The Steelers have to deal with the looming retirement of Roethlisberger, the possible departure of some of their key players in free agency, the need to rebuild their offensive line and running game, and the challenge of competing in a tough division and conference. Smith could help the Steelers navigate these challenges, by finding the best solutions for their offense, by being open to new ideas and innovations, and by being ready to adjust and adapt to any situation.
Smith has a winning mentality and a strong leadership
The final reason why the Steelers hired Smith is his winning mentality and his strong leadership. Smith is a coach who knows how to win and how to lead a team. Smith has been a part of winning teams and cultures throughout his career, both as a player and as a coach. Smith played college football at North Carolina, where he was a four-year letterman and a team captain. Smith also played under legendary coach Mack Brown, who taught him the values of hard work, discipline, and teamwork. Smith then started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at North Carolina, where he learned from Brown and other successful coaches.
Smith then joined the Washington Redskins as a defensive quality control coach, where he worked under Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs, who taught him the importance of preparation, execution, and accountability. Smith then moved to the Tennessee Titans, where he worked under Jeff Fisher, Mike Munchak, Ken Whisenhunt, Mike Mularkey, and Mike Vrabel, who all taught him different aspects of coaching and leadership. Smith also helped the Titans reach the playoffs in three of his four seasons as the offensive coordinator, including two trips to the AFC Championship Game.
Smith then became the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, where he faced a lot of adversity and pressure, but never gave up or lost his composure. Smith always maintained a positive and optimistic attitude, and always tried to motivate and inspire his players and staff. Smith also earned the respect and trust of his players, who praised him for his honesty, communication, and fairness. Smith also showed his leadership by being involved in the community and supporting various causes and initiatives.
The Steelers could use Smith’s winning mentality and strong leadership, as they try to restore their status as a championship contender. The Steelers have a proud and successful history, but they have also experienced a lot of frustration and disappointment in recent years, especially in the postseason. The Steelers need a coach who can instill a winning culture and a strong identity in their offense, who can motivate and inspire their players and staff, who can handle the pressure and expectations of playing in Pittsburgh, and who can lead by example and with integrity. Smith could be that coach for the Steelers’ offense.
The Steelers have made a bold and smart move by hiring Arthur Smith as their new offensive coordinator. Smith is a coach who has a proven track record of developing quarterbacks and running backs, who has a flexible and adaptable philosophy, and who has a winning mentality and a strong leadership. Smith could help revitalize the Steelers’ offense, by improving their quarterback and running back situation, by implementing a balanced and creative system, and by instilling a winning culture and a strong identity. Smith could be the right choice for the Steelers’ offense.
Pittsburgh Hired Arthur Smith Before He Interviewed With Tampa Bay …. https://steelersdepot.com/2024/01/pittsburgh-hired-arthur-smith-before-he-interviewed-with-tampa-bay-several-other-teams/
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