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- As more OCs are announced for NFL teams, I like the Arthur Smith choice even more
As more OCs are announced for NFL teams, I like the Arthur Smith choice even more
As reports surfaced on Tuesday that the Pittsburgh Steelers were hiring former Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith as there offensive coordinator, I wasn’t sure exactly how I felt about the situation. As I did the breaking news podcast with Jeff Hartman, I said I didn’t hate the hire but I also wasn’t blown away by it. But by the time the Steelers made the official announcement on Friday afternoon, my opinion of Coach Smith had changed significantly.
Though a lot of things that factored into my change of heart, one of which was the numbers I looked up and reported for my Steelers Stat Geek podcast on Thursday. While the numbers with the Atlanta Falcons weren’t mind-blowing, they also weren’t as bad as I expected especially when taking them in the context with the various personal situations. But looking at the numbers with the Tennessee Titans, they were mind-blowing. Both Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry saw the best seasons of their careers with Arthur Smith as the offensive coordinator. I had started to come around.
Something else that helped was just after I recorded my podcast I was speaking to a friend of mine who is a die-hard and knowledgeable Tennessee Titans fan. When I asked him what he thought of Arthur Smith, he gave a glowing review. Smith helped orchestrate the best Tennessee Titans offense they have seen in years, and my friend was disappointed that the Titans couldn’t land Smith back in Tennessee after things didn’t work out in Atlanta. But one last thing my friend said really moved things over the top. When he told me that he felt Pittsburgh was almost a perfect fit for where Arthur Smith should land, even more so than Tennessee based on their current direction, I really started like this hire.
The biggest hangup I had with the Steelers hiring Smith as offensive coordinator was I felt there were other candidates that were still coaching for teams that are yet to conclude their 2023 season. Whether it was Klint Kubiak or Brian Griese, there were some names on the San Francisco 49ers coaching staff that I thought were intriguing and could be a possibility for Pittsburgh. But well before the Chiefs and 49ers faced off in the Super Bowl, the Steelers had made their choice.
Since Smith was reported to be coming to Pittsburgh, there have been several other offensive coordinator hires, reports, or potential landing spots that I’ve noted. When looking at most of these names and how things worked out for those teams, it makes me appreciative that the Steelers landed Smith. Whether it was the Raiders, The Patriots, or even the Panthers, I feel the Steelers have landed a better option.
But the last thing which actually makes me feel better about the Steelers situation is the reports that Klint Kubiak is likely to become the New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator next season. Although he can’t be hired until after the Super Bowl, this meant assistant coaches who are still finishing up their season were at least able to, either themselves or their representatives, talk to other NFL teams. My concern that the Steelers didn’t wait long enough to even kick the tires on one of the other candidates may be unfounded. Perhaps the Steelers did reach out to these candidates, or the Steelers simply weren’t considering them for the position. Instead of feeling like this Steelers jumped the gun rather than be thorough in order to consider all options, I feel they made the right choice at the right time.
How I feel about the Arthur Smith hire as offensive coordinator is ultimately irrelevant. Whether or not the Steelers offense shows significant improvements next season will be the ultimate test. After first hearing this was the direction the Steelers are going, I wasn’t excited about the hire. But given enough time and research, count me in the category of those who can’t wait to see what the Steelers offense looks like this fall and is optimistic of what I will see.