The Pittsburgh Steelers’ hire of Arthur Smith is a hire that has ended up coming with some extremely polarizing thoughts from all sources. But the former Falcons coach is certainly not the flashiest pick for the job right out of the chute, and with quarterback questions looming, all of that will come to the forefront.
But before they hired him, Cam Heyward talked about Smith interviewing for the job on his podcast, Not Just Football. And looking back on the Tennessee offenses, Heyward believes that everyone must give Smith a chance to showcase that he can still be that level of coordinator.
“If you look at what he did in Tennessee, having Derrick Henry and (Ryan) Tannehill played very well that year as well. He’s definitely had a lot of success. I know last year wasn’t a lot of success, and things went wrong, and that’s the reason why he was fired. But he’s an OC,” Heyward said.
Though things did not go well in Atlanta with Smith as the head coach, he had a strong stint as an offensive coordinator with the Titans. Smith started in Nashville as a quality control coach in 2011 and worked his way up to offensive line and tight ends coach before taking over as offensive coordinator in 2019.
The Titans finished 10th and scoring and third in rushing in his first season, leaning on a strong offensive line and the talents of running back Derrick Henry. That provided the blueprint for the franchise, as they finished fourth in scoring in 2020, all the while having a below-average passing attack.
The Steelers will hope to draw on that attack more from Smith. But Smith also faced criticism for his usage of the Falcons’ skill position players, with former first-round picks Drake London, Kyle Pitts and Bijan Robinson failing to reach their full potential. He must use their playmakers to the fullest potential for that to make sense.