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Friday’s NFL: Falcons pick Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith as new coach

Charles Odum
Associated Press

Atlanta – The Atlanta Falcons agreed to terms with Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith on Friday to become the team’s head coach.

The Falcons announced the agreement. Smith held a virtual interview with the team on Monday and he also interviewed with the New York Jets and Detroit Lions. The Jets reached an agreement with Robert Saleh on Thursday night to be their coach.

Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith

The 38-year-old Smith has served on the Tennessee staff for 10 seasons, including two as offensive coordinator. The Titans finished this season tied for second in the NFL in total yards.

Under Smith’s leadership, the Titans finished behind only Kansas City in total offense with 396.4 yards. They had the NFL’s second-best rushing offense as Derrick Henry became only the eighth back to rush for at least 2,000 yards.

Atlanta’s choice of Smith was applauded by Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown, who said on his Twitter account “Held me accountable from day 1. Always trying to improve. Atlanta got a good one.”

The Titans’ offensive success, especially on the ground, may have been especially appealing to the Falcons, who finished ahead of only five teams in rushing this season. The Falcons averaged only 95.8 yards rushing per game.

Smith, who has no experience as a head coach, will face important decisions about the offense. Quarterback Matt Ryan is 35 and wide receiver Julio Jones, coming off a season hampered by injuries, is 31.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank has said the team’s new coach and general manager will be free to make decisions on a possible rebuild that could impact all players, including Ryan and Jones.

The Titans went 11-5 to win the AFC South, but were eliminated from the playoffs Sunday with a 20-13 loss to Baltimore. It was Tennessee’s fewest points of the season.

The Falcons also are seeking a replacement for general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who was fired along with coach Dan Quinn following an 0-5 start that led to a 4-12 finish. Quinn was hired as the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive coordinator on Monday.

Quinn left Atlanta with an overall record of 43-42, including a 14-23 mark since the beginning of the 2018 season. He was 3-2 in two postseason appearances.

Smith was one of seven candidates to interview with Atlanta, including interim coach Raheem Morris.

Other offensive coordinators to interview with the Falcons were Green Bay’s Nathaniel Hackett, Carolina’s Joe Brady and Kansas City’s Eric Bieniemy. Saleh and Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Todd Bowles also interviewed for the job.

Morris went 4-7 as the interim coach.

Von Miller under investigation

Broncos linebacker Von Miller is under investigation by police in a Denver suburb.

Parker Police Department spokesman Josh Hans confirmed the investigation, but couldn’t provide additional details. Hans wrote in an email that, “if the investigation determines a crime has occurred, charges will be submitted to the DA’s Office for their review.”

The Broncos released a statement saying they were “aware of an investigation involving Von Miller and are in the process of gathering more information.”

Miller missed the 2020 season with an ankle injury he suffered just before the opener.

The Broncos have a decision to make on Miller for next season. They hold a club option that must be exercised by the first day of the new league year in March that would guarantee him $7 million.

Personnel Dept.

The conditional reinstatement of wide receiver Josh Gordon has been rescinded by the NFL, and Gordon is once again under suspension. Gordon was signed by the Seattle Seahawks in September despite being under an indefinite suspension. That suspension ended in early December when Gordon was conditionally reinstated by Commissioner Roger Goodell. He was allowed to begin strength and conditioning work with the Seahawks staff, and attend meetings. He was expected to be eligible to play the final two weeks of the regular season.

... The NFL suspended Bears defensive linemen Mario Edwards Jr. for the first two games next season for violating the league’s policy against performance-enhancing substances.