Given the success of the Tennessee Titans offense the last two seasons, it’s no surprise that offensive coordinator Arthur Smith is generating a lot of buzz around the NFL from teams with head coaching vacancies.
On Monday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that six teams – the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Chargers and New York Jets – have all either requested permission or are planning to ask permission to interview Smith.
The Titans are preparing to host the Baltimore Ravens in the wild card round of the playoffs on Sunday -- Tennessee’s first home playoff game since 2008 -- and Smith has his hands full game planning against a Ravens defense that allowed the second-fewest points per game (18.9) and seventh-fewest yards per game (329.8).
All head coaching interviews must be conducted virtually this year due to the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol, meaning Smith won’t have to travel and take much time away from his Sunday game planning.
“I have full confidence that Arthur will do everything that's needed to prepare our offense and our coaches for this game (and possibly balance head coaching interviews),” Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said.
Looking at Tennessee’s offensive statistics, it’s easy to see why Smith is being pursued so aggressively. The Titans were tied for second in the league in total yards per game (396.4) and rank second in rushing yards per game (168.1), total touchdowns (62) and rushing touchdowns (26), they’re tied for third in first downs (381), fourth in points per game (30.7), fifth in third-down conversions (46.2 percent) and eighth in fourth-down conversions (62.5 percent).
The 38-year-old Smith got his start in the NFL with Washington in 2007 as a defensive quality control assistant. He joined the Titans in 2011 as a defensive quality control coach after a year with Ole Miss and was promoted to offensive quality control coach in 2012, offensive line and assistant tight ends coach in 2013-2015, tight ends coach from 2016-2018 before finally being named offensive coordinator in 2019.
“Arthur (Smith)’s been in this organization for a lot of years,” Vrabel continued. “…He's given everything that he was asked to and then some in whatever role that he was in. When I got here, he was highly recommended by people within this organization. He was highly recommended by Mike Mularkey as a coach that you could trust, was loyal, that was diligent, that was hard working.
“I didn't find Arthur Smith. I was able to interview him and retain him as a coach here. He’s earned everything that he’s gotten.”
Considered a hot commodity this offseason, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Smith running the show elsewhere in 2021. Of the teams searching for a new head coach, Smith, a creative offensive mind, appears to mesh best with the Chargers, who have projected Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert at quarterback, plus offensive building blocks at receiver Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, running back Austin Ekler and tight end Hunter Henry.
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