Pros and Cons of new Tennessee Titans OC Arthur Smith

NASHVILLE, TN - CIRCA 2011: In this handout image provided by the NFL, Arthur Smith of the Tennessee Titans poses for his NFL headshot circa 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - CIRCA 2011: In this handout image provided by the NFL, Arthur Smith of the Tennessee Titans poses for his NFL headshot circa 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images) /

The Tennessee Titans name a new OC.

After all the speculation and dot connecting, the Tennessee Titans promoted TE coach Arthur Smith to Offensive Coordinator.

Despite it being an internal hire, there is a lot to unpack here about who Arthur Smith is and what him being the offensive coordinator means for the Titans offense.

Off the top of my head there are a few pros and cons that come to mind, so let’s just get into that and then we can figure out if it was a good hire from there.


Familiar with the best player on offense

-Smith has spent the last six years coaching and being around Delanie Walker who I think is one of, if not the best player on the offensive side of the ball. It was always important that whoever the Titans hired as their next OC knew that Delanie Walker was a priority on this offense and someone who should get a lot of volume if healthy.

Offensive line background

-Protect Marcus Mariota. That should be on a banner in the bubble that the Titans practice in on occasion because that is the single most important thing this offensive coordinator should do.

Sure, I want Mariota to thrive and throw 400 or so passes but not if that means matching up tight ends against JJ Watt for some dang reason. During the 2013 season he was an assistant offensive line coach for the Titans.

During that season he saw just how important the offensive line is because he got to witness one of the worst offensive line performances in Titans history, if not the worst. Surely he knows after seeing how bad that was, that offensive line and protection is a huge deal.

Marcus Mariota needs no introductions

-I don’t know if they have worked closely before or if they have ever even been in the same room, but Smith has been on the staff for Marcus Mariota’s entire career and I believe he is the only person on the staff who can say that aside from a few scouts.

He has seen the highs and lows of Mariota and he was a coach on the offense that suited him best just like he was a coach on the offenses that have failed him in the past. If someone knows how to take parts of the offense that worked from the past, it should be Smith since he was there for every single practice.

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The promise of continuity may be a lie

-One of the big backing statements for a guy like Smith is, “It isn’t exciting, but at least this means continuity for Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans.” but does it? Sure, Smith was on the staff last year and is familiar with what Matt LaFleur was trying to run, but that was just one year.

Before that he spend time with Mike Mularkey, Ken Whisenhunt and Mike Munchak three coaches with very different personalities and ideas. When the chips are down and it is his job on the line, are we sure that Smith is going to just build on the LaFleur playbook or is he going to revert back to something else.

No body of work

-What I really wanted to see from this hire was someone who had called plays before and done it well. It isn’t an easy thing to find, but there were some candidates out there who did have that qualification.

Get someone who won’t be flustered for the first half of the season and someone who is comfortable making calls in every situation. Instead, Titans fans will have to hope that Smith is up to the task and that he can adjust better in game that Matt LaFleur could.

Did his job as a position coach suggest he was ready for something bigger

-When I think of a position coach being promoted to an OC job, what I want to see is outstanding production from the position he coaches. Now is that always right? No, Sean McVay was the tight ends coach in Washington for three years with mediocre TE production before becoming what he is today but I want the rule not the exception.

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I can say without hesitation that after listing all these I have absolutely no idea what we are going to get from Smith. After being on staff for offenses all over the spectrum of formations, aggressiveness, personnel usage, etc. I don’t have any clue what kind of plays he is going to call.

The things I can say are that while he has never called a play for the Titans, he has detailed knowledge of what every player can do and has seen the peaks and valleys of everyone on the roster.

Is Henry in a slump? Yep, Smith has seen the corrections made to get him back on track. Marcus Mariota struggling? Smith has been a part of an offense that made him look like the best young QB in football for half a season. Which offensive positions need to be addressed? As a TE coach I would imagine that you have to work with OLs and WRs often in the grand scheme of the position, so if he wants to run something he should have a great idea of who needs to be replaced.

That is a huge plus for this team. However, I can also say that he is almost certainly going to start out the season out of his depth and this is not the season for that. No, this season could decide the fate of Marcus Mariota, Jack Conklin, Derrick Henry, and others so they can’t really afford for the first 8 weeks of the season to be growing pains for a young OC.

I have some very serious concerns about Smith’s ability to step into such a large role with no hiccups and while he may have the right ideas during the week, calling plays and making adjustments when the bullets are flying is a different thing entirely.

Do I think it was a great hire? Not really. I think there were position coaches across the league who have done enough to earn OC job offers that the Titans could have landed.

Do I think Smith will fail? Not really, I think he has a good chance to succeed as an OC and I don’t think it was a bad move by the Titans to promote him. The issue is that I see this team hovering around 16th offensively for a few years and while that isn’t bad it isn’t good either.

The question fans will be asking until Smith either clearly is succeeding or failing is: Did the Titans promote Smith out of fear that a “better” hire would have potentially been another one and done coach?

I don’t have the answer to that, but I can tell you that I don’t expect Smith to get any calls about being a HC anytime in the near future.