Updated Jan 8, 2024 - News

Falcons fire head coach Arthur Smith after third consecutive losing season

A man in a black shirt and wearing a hat

Former Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith. Photo by Mike Christy/Getty Images

New year, new players, same result.

  • The Falcons' season came to a disappointing 7-10 end with another embarrassing loss Sunday, and the team once again will be watching the playoffs from home just like the rest of us.
  • Atlanta hasn't finished a season with a winning record since 2017.

State of play: Atlanta fell to the rival New Orleans Saints in a 48-17 blowout in the season finale. The Falcons had an outside shot of making the playoffs going into the day — but they needed to win and for Tampa Bay to lose.

  • Neither of those things happened.

Why it matters: The Falcons fired head coach Arthur Smith hours after their season came to end. Second-year quarterback Desmond Ridder's future with the team is also in jeopardy.

  • Smith's frustrations boiled over after the Saints tacked on an unnecessary touchdown with a minute remaining.
  • During the usual post-game handshakes, Smith refused to shake New Orleans coach Dennis Allen's hand, but shouted at him: "That's f****** bull****."

What they're saying: "Smith has been part of building a good culture in our football team, but the results on the field have not met our expectations," Falcons owner Arthur Blank said according to the team's website. "After significant thought and reflection, we have determined the best way forward for our team is new leadership in the head coaching position."

Catch up fast: The season began with a glimmer of hope as they won their first two games, but they'd go on to lose six of their next eight and couldn't climb back over .500.

Between the lines: Most of the struggles could be chalked up to inconsistent quarterback output and an underperforming offense. Smith benched Ridder twice during the season due to poor play and too many turnovers.

Yes, but: Taylor Heinicke provided little relief, securing just one win in four chances as a starter.

What we're watching: Who the Falcons hire as their next coach and whether they'll search for a quarterback via free agency, a trade or the NFL draft.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include information about Smith's firing and comments from owner Arthur Blank.


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