New Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Arthur Smith’s journey to Pittsburgh is a winding story from the highs of his tenure in Tennessee to the lows of his stint with the Atlanta Falcons. But many criticisms of Smith’s tenure in Atlanta have been brought up, including his inability to draw up a game plan to target his best playmakers.
However, that has not stopped many of his past players from speaking up on his behalf. Smith is just 41 years old and certainly is not tied to the ideas he has given. He is still a young coach. But when the first stint as a head coach goes this badly, climbing back up that mountain is hard. Still, former Falcons and Titans tight end Jonnu Smith thinks that Smith will get back there.
“What’s making this thing a lot easier is he’ll be just fine,” Smith told reporters in Atlanta, via Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Knowing his resilience and the kind of man he is, he’ll bounce back. He’ll be back where he should be in no time. … He’s just a hell of a person, man. I don’t know how many interviews I did about Art, but truly, I can’t do enough.”
That’s strong praise from a player who naturally does not have to give Smith that much praise after he got removed as Falcon’s head coach.
Smith’s biggest task will be to develop and mold Kenny Pickett. The former Pitt quarterback is heading into a crucial Year 3, which Tomlin noted during his season-ending press conference. It will be up to Smith to get the most out of Pickett. Creating a strong rapport is the first place to start to building success.
“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.”
If he does that, it’s not out of the question that his stock could once again rise beyond what the Steelers could offer him as an offensive coordinator. But he has to answer many questions before getting back to that mountaintop, even among offensive coordinators in the NFL.