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Arthur Smith Explains What He Wants From His Quarterback

Arthur Smith reveals his specific details that he likes from his quarterbacks.



Pittsburgh Steelers Offensive Coordinator Search Candidate Arthur Smith Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith and Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota (1) stand on the sideline during an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Pittsburgh Steelers new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith led quarterback Ryan Tannehill to career-best numbers when he was an offensive coordinator with the Tennessee Titans from 2019-2020. That’s what the Steelers are hoping Smith can do for Kenny Pickett. Resurrect his career and put him on the right path. Before Smith, Tannehill was considered a first-round bust with the Miami Dolphins.

As the Atlanta Falcons head coach, Smith didn’t succeed in developing Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder, but his work with Tannehill as an offensive coordinator was first-rate. Tannehill had an over 100 passer rating in both 2019 and 2020 and recorded a remarkable 55-13 touchdown-interception ratio over the two-year span.

During a one-on-one interview with Missi Matthews of, Smith explained what he needs from a quarterback in his system to succeed.

“I’ve been fortunate. I’ve worked with a lot of different quarterbacks at different parts of their career,” Smith said. “Like with Ryan Tannehill, he was at a different part of his career than Matt Ryan was when I got to work with Matt. And worked with young quarterbacks as well. And it’s exciting to hear the way that this offense is built with a lot of young players, and obviously where Kenny Pickett is at going into his third year. Playing with a young quarterback, (it’s about) being efficient, being able to get the ball out and making the smart decisions. Getting the ball in the playmaker’s hands and taking care of the football.”

“And a lot of things that come up in the responsibility of playing quarterback in the National Football League, because there’s pressure situations, they happen all game and having command of those situations,” Smith continued. “And ultimately putting the ball in the end zone, whether it’s through the air, handoff or running it, but there’s a lot on him, there’s a natural evolution that happens with the quarterback.”

For Smith, creating a strong rapport with Pickett is the first step in the process of creating an efficient offense.

“There’s a relationship that’s got to be built between me and Kenny. That’s so paramount between the play caller and the quarterback,” Smith said. “There’s a trust that’s gotta be built daily and it goes both ways. I’ve gotta earn Kenny’s trust and vice versa as we build this offense, and all the things we want to work on and we want him to work on, and take command of this offense.”