Report: Richard Smith won’t return as Falcons defensive coordinator

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Falcons defensive coordinator Richard Smith will not be back in his role with the team next season, Alex Marvez of Sporting News reported.

The report said Smith could end up taking another job on staff but won’t be back as coordinator after the Falcons’ Super Bowl meltdown. It also said Falcons defensive line coach Bryan Cox will be dismissed.

Smith has been with the team for two seasons, and Cox has been with the team for the last three seasons.

These moves mean the Falcons will follow their Super Bowl appearance with significant staff changes on both sides of the ball. Kyle Shanahan was hired as head coach of the 49ers after two years as offensive coordinator, and the Falcons officially announced Steve Sarkisian as his replacement on Tuesday. Per multiple reports, quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur will also leave the team to become offensive coordinator with the Rams.

The Falcons’ defense had made significant strides under Smith, who was previously a coordinator in Miami and Houston. He joined head coach Dan Quinn’s first staff with the Falcons after four seasons as the linebackers coach in Denver.

Cox had previously coached in Tampa Bay, Cleveland and with the Jets following a long playing career as a linebacker.

58 responses to “Report: Richard Smith won’t return as Falcons defensive coordinator

  1. Classic Super Bowl loss overreaction. You think the D-Line was the problem, Dan? Brady was getting chased around for 3.5 quarters. Cox was not the problem.

    Try your players’ conditioning which you yourself remarked in the 3rd quarter were “gassed”.

  2. Because running the ball only 4 plays after being up 28-3 is clearly the DC’s fault.

  3. Hilarious! As usual in Atlanta, the D continues to be scapegoated. Surely the worst meltdown in sports history couldn’t be Matt Ryan’s/the offense’s fault. The D scored seven points, forced two turnovers, and sacked Brady five times. Meanwhile, the O squandered unbelievable field position because Atlanta was more interested in trying to make people believe Matt Ryan is a superstar than winning the game. Didn’t turn out so hot. Anyone blaming the D is clueless about football.

  4. Firing Richard Smith may be the dumbest move Atlanta has ever made. The Atlanta defense played all out for 3 + quarters. The Atlanta offense on the other hand is what cost the Falcons the Super Bowl They crawled under a rock and put all the pressure on the defense. It was 28-12 Atlanta in the 4th with 8:31 remaining when Ryan fumbled. The Atlanta offense ended the game going Punt, Fumble, Punt, Punt. Shanahan gets a head coaching gig, and the guy who lead your defense gets the shaft.

  5. Wow…Playoff and Superbowl teams usually have lots of turnover but this is a lot.

    The Patriots don’t have so much turnover which is a good part of their success. I am surprised those coaches don’t take the opportunities or maybe they aren’t offered them. There hasn’t been a great record for them away from Beli.

  6. Bryan Cox was just hired by the American Dental Association. For his diligence in urging people to make up their mind to use a brush everyday. Best of luck Mr Cox, keep delivering that message!

  7. I’m picturing a lot of finger pointing and angry words in the post mortem.

    18-1 was the most bitterly disappointing thing I’ve ever been through as a fan but I believe this must be even worse for Falcon fans and just horrible for everyone involved.

    28-3 is going to haunt those guys for the rest of their careers.

    Every single blow out game will bring it up as broadcasters try to convince audiences to stick around from now until we are all dead and gone.

    I’m glad the Pats won but I would rather it have been close all the way so the Falcons could talk about a great season and a hard fought championship loss instead of this nightmare.

    Hell, I wouldn’t even wish 28-3::28-34 on the Jets

  8. King Arthur ordered some heads to roll. You don’t suffer the worst loss in pro football history without making changes. That much is clear.

  9. Seems reactionary… Cant blame the defense for the collapse when the offense left them out to dry.

  10. If the Falcons really want to show their fans that they want to fix what went wrong, they should release a statement saying that they wish Kyle Shanahan would return to the team so they can fire him properly.

  11. Wow, seems like a pretty severe over-reaction.

    The defense played well but was on the field too long. 93 plays is too much.

    Plus they scored 25% of Atlanta’s points.

    That’s not the kind of thing that should get you fired.

    Also, Sarkasian is an untested newbie.

    Is this Quinn asserting power?

    Is this the legacy of the Pete Carroll coaching tree?

  12. Funny how everyone criticizes the Pats for allegedly running up the score when now everybody can see why.

  13. This definitely seems like an overreaction. Don’t see how you can blame the DC for the offense not being able to stay on the field.

  14. Scapegoats! Man-to-man coverage had to go 93 plays and got gassed, all because the offense couldn’t switch from a pacy airing it out for killer-blows to clock-killing runs when up by 25. Quinn is to blame – not his coords – for those two strategic decisions.

  15. That defense played great, but no defense can sustain that when they have to be on the field for 93 plays. The one thing the experts actually got right about the Super Bowl was that they said the Patriots would win by keeping the Atlanta offense off the field. That’s what they did with 37 first downs.

  16. Special Teams coach should be the one getting walking papers along with the kick returner. Not sure how you run out of the end zone twice netting @ 20 total yards total when the momentum is agaisnt you be kneeling for the touchback.

    Maybe next time ask Shane Falco about that quicksand…

  17. In any epic season-ending fail, regardless of the sport, or regardless of the people involved. it seems there is a knee-jerk reaction on the part of the higher-ups in the organization to purge the body of the instruments of the loss, whether they be real or imagined. Countless owners have thundered through the halls of the corporate kingdom screaming “off with their heads” regardless of whether the perceived offenders were actually responsible. The fans; The supporters; The world needs to see they won’t stand for this and will take the steps necessary to bring about the changes required to produce a winning team. The problem is, the Falcons were already a winning team, and they had/have the system in place to continue to be one. But I can tell you what won it for the Patriots: The Hill.

    What” The Hill? What are you talking about? I’m talking about the hill that sits beside the Patriots practice field in Foxboro. Not just a hill. A HILL. Very large; Very high and Belichick makes the players run it. Every player. Every day, after every practice and, as much as they hate it, and they do, it gives them something. Stamina. Unrelenting, unwavering and unending. They move on the field just as hard in overtime as they did at the start. The Atlanta The defense just ran out of steam. They could no longer stop the onslaught. They couldn’t break through the offensive line like they did early on. They quit man to man defense and they quit trying to sack Brady, and if you give TB 3 seconds in the pocket, he will pick you apart, and that’s exactly what he did. Want abetter team, Atlanta? Build yourself a hill.

  18. I was really cheering on the Falcons, as they are a classy organization and Matty Ice is so humble, with so much sportsmanship 🙁 But, alas, they shot themselves in the foot, and are totally overreacting to this loss! Now, the team will have to learn a completely new O & D, and that will be difficult in one season. When dealing with adversity, step back and think things through!!!!!!

  19. Was the defensive coordinator responsible for Matt Ryan leaving 13+ seconds on the play clock (play after play) when the Falcons were up by 25 points? For the life of me I cannot understand that blunder….but I’m glad he did!

  20. Without knowing the details, seems like a pretty impulsive set of decisions. Sometimes, the best thing to do is step back and exhale for a bit. I still say the biggest snafu was the play calling. On the Ryan fumble, 3rd and less than 1 and you go empty backfield? Don’t get that. Run the ball. If you don’t get it, clock keeps running and you punt. If you’re dead set on passing, which I don’t understand, put someone in the backfield to give the threat of a run. And first and 10 at the 22. Run three times, NE burns timeouts. Kick field goal, go up 11 and play the percentages. Atlanta was having success running and its defense needed a break. Even though Atlanta is a passing team, you have to understand the situation. Quinn and Shanahan failed on that. Hard to blame the defense there.

  21. I’m a 40 year Pats fan but let me tell you those kids on Atlanta’s defense did a kick ass job for 3 quarters.

    THEY WERE OUT OF GAS! They were on the field 80% of the friggin game!

    How ’bout that high powered Falcon offense? They only scored 21 points. Ryan threw for less than 300 yards. Jones had less than 100 yards receiving. Freeman and Coleman combined for 109 yards (pretty good – not great).

    Those kids on Atlanta’s defense (AND THE OLD MAN FREENEY PLAYED A GREAT GAME!) kicked ass. They just did not get any help from the rest of the team.

    There was nothing to dislike about the Falcons. Now there is.

    Then when opportunity presented itself the Pats did what all great teams, no matter the sport, do – they took advantage.

  22. If they are going to fire everyone responsible, they should also terminate the guy who consistently snapped the ball with 10-20 seconds left on the play clock. I think he’s named Ryan.

  23. Clean house after a Super Bowl appearance, wow. I think the defense did great, If the offense held their end of the bargain and kept scoring or at least got a few more first downs then the defense could’ve have a chance to catch their breath.

  24. When you get to the 30 yard line and could use a field goal to make it a 2 score game call a running play, no first down, go for the FG, this is what most smart coaches would do, plus you run the clock down. Basic 101 football. I’m sure everyone at home were thinking don’t lose any ground. Bill

  25. This is why the other teams in tbe NFL continue to suck. OC leaving for a new job? Yeah lets get an outside guy & install a whole new system even though our offense was running like a machine this year. BB would promote from within or call plays himself to keep HIS system in place. The system his guys know. And now they’re going to blow up the defense too? Stupid. I honestly thought Dan Quinn maybe had a clue. Rethinking that now. There are virtually zero coaches outside of BB that get it. Carroll, shockingly, may be the only other one.

    -Not a Pats fan whatsoever.

  26. Poor Atlanta, and this coming from a Saints fan. They wont sniff the trophy for a long time. That was their chance and they blew it. And anyone, saying, they will be back, see Carolina…..

    I think either NO or TB will win the division next year.

  27. You guys crack me up. Believe it or not the Super Bowl wasn’t the only game the Falcons played last season. Smith was so horrible as DC, Quinn started calling plays halfway through the season. Obviously Smith had nothing to do with the big collapse but this was the plan anyway.

  28. Chris Carter voice: You gotta have a fall guy. Never mind that we left your unit out there for 67% of the game and 93 snaps. Also, I know Cox is maybe getting fired for the inappropriate question last year at the combine, but his unit wrecked in that game and got pressure on Brady like I didn’t think they could considering the talent level. Two very convenient scapegoats.

  29. Quinn is still ultimately responsible for everything that happens.

    He should be the one fired.

  30. Well, you can’t fire the guy that really lost it for you because he left voluntarily for the 49ers. So I guess the next best thing is this guy?

    Falcons had this game won with about 4 minutes to go.

    1. Terrible call to pass when at the 22 and in position to run off clock (or Patriot timeouts) and try a chip shot field goal for a two score lead. (I think this is far worse than the Seahawks call to pass at the one yard line)

    2. Yeah – Ryan takes plenty of blame. You’re the damn QB. Maybe expecting you to audible a run at the line was too much; but to expect you to not under any circumstance take a sack there is not too much to ask.

  31. Don’t understand this move. Reminds me of what happened to the 2013 Texans defense coached by Wade Phillips. Texans defense gets worn out and lose 14 games consecutive games because the Schaub-led offense can’t sustain any drives. Not the defensive coordinators fault.

  32. There is a good possibility that they wont win the division next year – what with the strength of schedule and the fact that they are in a division against Newton and Brees – there are always changes there. The point is will they even make a wildcard. I will say no. 2 new co-ordinators – even with these young Dbacks being taught how to hold receivers better so that they dont get flagged as much, like they do in Seattle – they wont be able to stop Brees and Newton. Blaming the Defense is dumb – yes they did give Brady a touchdown with a bunch of holding penalties but the Offense also went backwards from an almost sure thing field goal – which would have settled the game – so they take a lot of the blame too.

  33. The loss was not just on the defense, but it was not just on the offense either. Stop trying to make it sound like it was all Ryan and Shanahan’s fault. The defense allowed 31 points to be scored over the last 5 possessions! Just one stop would have given them the superbowl win. The t.o.p. difference is not just on the offense not running the ball. The defense was allowing the Patriots to dink and dunk all the way down the field. Total team loss to a mentally tougher opponent. It happens. Learn and move forward.

  34. Playing the Patriots makes teams do stupid things even after the game is over.

    This is up there with the most stupid right after 1) Not giving Marshawn the ball at the 1 yard line 2) Not running the ball three times and then kicking a field goal. 3)San Francisco Hiring Shanahan , the person most responsible for the loss

  35. That front 7 was AWESOME during the SB. I am a Pats fan, and I gotta hand it to those guys. And then you fire the coaches?
    Goes to show it was just luck this year. You don’t become a great franchise by jettisoning coaches that got you to the SB.
    9-7 2017

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