Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank says head coach Arthur Smith will remain in that position this season, despite derision from fans and critics.
In an interview on Georgia Public Broadcasting with Jeff Hullinger, Blank said despite a less-than-stellar year so far for the Falcons, which many fans and critics are blaming on the 3rd year coach, Smith is here to stay, at least for the rest of the season.
“We are committed to coach Smith,” Blank said. “We are going to play these last three games, we will play to win them, we will let the season play out and go from there.”
He told Hullinger that he is aware of the criticism directed at Smith for the Falcons so far 6-8 season, brought to a head last Sunday after a 9-7 loss to the 2-12 Carolina Panthers.
“Obviously it’s not the kind of year we expected,” he said. “You hear it from coach Smith, you hear it from fans, you hear it from players. We understand that, we understand the challenges.” Blank says the team’s status will be assessed at the end of the year. He said there was no “requirement” that coach Smith take the team to the playoffs this year. However, Blank said he wanted the Falcons to be a “more competitive team this year, a winning team this year.” Blank told Hullinger that the Falcons’ performance overall this season so far has been “mixed.”
Blank expressed a favorable view of his head coach. He did not spell out if Smith will stick around beyond this season.
“Arthur is a very honest and…he looks at himself very critically…We will see how the season plays out and go from there.”
As for starting quarterback Desmond Ridder, who is now benched for at least this Sunday’s game…
“We had high hopes for Desmond Ridder. He’s done a lot of good things this year, but he would be the first to tell you he hasn’t been a consistent performer that we’d like him to be,” said Blank, “In this business, when you have turnovers, it’s a very tough thing to overcome.”
Taylor Heinicke will be the Falcons quarterback against the Colts this Sunday.