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The Falcons have chosen Tennessee offensive coordinator Arthur Smith to become their new head coach. Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons have agreed to terms with Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith to become the team’s head coach.

The Falcons announced the agreement on Friday. Smith held a virtual interview with the team on Monday and 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.

Smith, 38, 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 per game. 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.

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.

Smith coached Tennessee’s tight ends before his promotion to offensive coordinator.

He worked under four head coaches at Tennessee after he was hired as a defensive assistant and quality control coach in 2011. He also was an offensive assistant/quality control coach (2012), offensive line/tight ends assistant (2013) and assistant tight ends coach (2014-15). He took over as tight ends coach in 2015.

In 2019, Smith helped the Titans rebound from a 2-4 start to advance to the AFC championship game for the first time in 17 years.

Smith helped the Titans offense gain momentum with quarterback Ryan Tannehill as the starter. Over the final 11 weeks of the 2019 season, Tennessee ranked third in the league in total offense and scoring.

BROWNS: Joel Bitonio’s long playoff wait with the Browns is over. The Pro Bowl left guard was activated from the COVID-19 list after missing last week’s wild-card win over Pittsburgh.

Cleveland’s longest-tenured player, Bitonio had to isolate at home and missed the Browns’ first postseason game since the 2002 season. It was a devastating development for Bitiono, who had endured so much losing with the Browns before this turnaround season.

But he’ll get his long-awaited chance to play in the postseason this week. The Browns, who stunned the Steelers in the wild-card round, face the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in the AFC divisional round.

“Elated for Joel,” Browns General Manager Andrew Berry said on Zoom call with local writers. “He’s been here his entire career. He has been a leader, consummate teammate, everything that you could really want out of a player.”

SEAHAWKS: The conditional reinstatement of wide receiver Josh Gordon has been rescinded by the NFL, and Gordon is once again under suspension.

The change in Gordon’s status was listed on the NFL’s official transactions on Friday.

Gordon was signed by the 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, and was expected to be eligible to play the final two weeks of the regular season.

But that never took place. Gordon was placed back on the commissioner’s exempt list in Week 16.


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