NFL Coaches on the Hot Seat: The Falcons Are Flailing, and Arthur Smith Is in Trouble

Which NFL coaches are on the hot seat after Week 10? Falcons HC Arthur Smith might be on thin ice now that Atlanta is two games below .500.

While Arthur Smith began his NFL head coaching career with back-to-back 7-10 campaigns, everything was supposed to come together for the Atlanta Falcons in 2023. Instead, close losses, poor quarterback play, and Smith’s questionable personnel decisions have highlighted Atlanta’s season.

The 4-6 Falcons might already be out of contention in any other division. But anything is possible in the woeful NFC South, where third-place Atlanta is just a game behind the division-leading New Orleans Saints.

Still, if the Falcons don’t turn things around, Smith will start facing questions about his job security. Is he on the hot seat after Week 10?

Falcons HC Arthur Smith Among NFL Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 10

The past two weeks could hardly have gone worse for Smith and the Falcons.

In Week 9, Atlanta somehow lost to a Minnesota Vikings team that was without Kirk Cousins or Justin Jefferson and had to turn to journeyman quarterback Josh Dobbs after rookie fifth-round starter Jaren Hall suffered a first-quarter concussion.

MORE: NFL Week 10 Winners and Losers

Dobbs hardly knew his new teammates’ names, let alone the Vikings’ offensive play calls, but he still led Minnesota to a win over the Falcons just five days after joining the club’s roster.

On Sunday, Atlanta lost to the Arizona Cardinals, a team that Pro Football Network’s NFL department ranked as the league’s second-worst club entering Week 10.

Taylor Heinicke, who relieved Desmond Ridder as the Falcons’ starting quarterback in Week 9, suffered a hamstring injury during the half of Sunday’s loss. Atlanta had planned to determine a rest-of-season starter during their Week 11 bye, but Heinicke’s injury may throw a wrench in that plan and allow Ridder to win the job by default.

“We’ve got to make a decision, and like I said, (Ridder) did a nice job coming back out there,” Smith said. “I thought he kind of reset, and we were confident in him if he had to come in on the second play of the game with the way he prepared. He didn’t flinch. He gave us a chance to win.”

Smith has also drawn criticism for his usage of WR Drake London, TE Kyle Pitts, and RB Bijan Robinson, the Falcons’ last three first-round picks.

Entering Week 10, Robinson had received just two of Atlanta’s 21 rush attempts inside the 10-yard line. Smith also failed to list Robinson as questionable when he was dealing with an illness heading into Week 7, then took offense after being asked about the discrepancy (hardly the first time Smith had an issue with questions that came his way).

Can the Falcons still make the playoffs? The Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Falcons are all within a game of each other in the NFC South, but the NY Times’ projection model only gives Atlanta a 17% chance of earning a postseason berth. Even a Week 12 win over New Orleans would only increase the Falcons’ odds to 28% (in a vacuum).

A trip to the playoffs will likely need to come via a division crown. Atlanta has just a 3% chance of making the dance through a Wild Card slot. They’re two games behind the Vikings in the race for NFC’s seventh seed, while Minnesota also holds a tiebreaker.

MORE: Week 11 NFL Power Rankings

“Somehow, some way, we’re not out of it,” Smith said. “We’ll focus on that and the things we can control. We have to look at everything and find solutions.”

Smith said Sunday that although he wouldn’t say the Falcons are “unraveling,” he did admit the club is “frustrated.” Whatever word Smith wants to use, he may need to lead Atlanta to the postseason or risk losing his job at the end of the year.

More NFL Hot Seat Updates

Bill Belichick, New England Patriots (2-8)

The Patriots are the worst team in the AFC, and it’s not particularly close. It’s still hard to imagine Bill Belichick will go out like this, but owner Robert Kraft again expressed his disappointment with how the season has played out on Sunday. Mac Jones got benched for the third time this year, but playing Bailey Zappe under center won’t make a difference.

Ron Rivera, Washington Commanders (4-6)

Washington had been outplaying its underlying metrics all season, but Ron Rivera’s club’s record is starting to line up with its production. The Commanders waved the white flag by trading defensive ends Chase Young and Montez Sweat. Rivera remains unlikely to return in 2024, barring a drastic turnaround.

Frank Reich, Carolina Panthers (1-8)

It still doesn’t make sense that the Panthers took down the Houston Texans in Week 8. Since then, Carolina has managed just 28 total points in losses to the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears.

The Athletic reported this week that the Panthers organization still believes in No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young. But can the same be said for Frank Reich?

From the current NFL standings to team depth charts to coverage of every game in the 18-week NFL schedule, we have all the news from around the league to keep you up to speed!

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