Head coach Arthur Smith is entering his third season with the Atlanta Falcons in 2023. In some ways, though, it will be his first campaign with the roster constructed the way he wants.
Former NFL offensive lineman and league analyst Ross Tucker seemed to take that into consideration on his NFL head coach rankings. But Tucker still slotted Smith in the bottom half among NFL head coaches at No. 18.
“Smith has exceeded every reasonable expectation for his team each of the last two years and found ways to be competitive with a roster that has been — to be kind — subpar,” wrote Tucker.
With that subpar roster, Smith has earned a 14-20 record as Falcons head coach. He has yet to even hold a winning record at any point during the regular season.
Smith, though, likely has a chance to significantly jump Tucker’s rankings or any other head coaching list this season. Even if the Falcons don’t take a significant jump in victories, the Atlanta offense appears poised to be one of the most improved units in the NFL.
If that comes to fruition and quarterback Desmond Ridder shines, Smith will likely receive a lot of the credit.
The weak NFC South could also help make the Falcons Smith look better in 2023. According to Tucker, Smith is the best head coach in the division heading into the season.
The next closest in the NFC South to Smith on Tucker’s list was Carolina Panthers head coach Frank Reich. The first-year Panthers head coach came in at No. 24 on the list.
Tucker placed Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Todd Bowles and New Orleans Saints’ Dennis Allen at No. 26 and 27, respectively.
Tucker’s rankings began with three head coaches that have made multiple Super Bowl appearances. Fresh off his second championship, Kansas City Chiefs’ Andy Reid topped the list. New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick came in at No. 2 while Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin was No. 3.
Maybe the biggest surprising on Tucker’s list was Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott at No. 22. McDermott has posted a 62-35 regular season record, but the Bills are still looking for their first Super Bowl appearance since 1993. Buffalo also hasn’t been to the AFC Championship Game since 2020.
Smith’s former head coach, Tennessee Titans’ Mike Vrabel, was ranked five spots ahead of Smith at No. 13.
Three new head coaches — Indianapolis Colts’ Shane Steichen, Houston Texans’ DeMeco Ryans and Arizona Cardinals’ Jonathan Gannon — occupied the bottom three spots. Las Vegas Raiders’ Josh McDaniels was the last-ranked head coach who has already spent at least a season with his team.