"Black Monday" was an eventful one in the NFL, as the Jacksonville Jaguars fired head coach Doug Marrone, the Los Angeles Chargers parted ways with head coach Anthony Lynn and the Denver Broncos promoted John Elway in order to get him out of the general manager spot. Now starts the real fun, as the six teams searching for new head men get a chance to interview candidates of their choosing. There's one candidate that has received more reported interest than anyone else early on, however, and that's Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith.
Smith was expected to receive some interest from other teams this offseason, but those in Nashville were hoping that he could hide in anonymity for at least another year. Unfortunately that has not happened, as all six teams with head coach openings either requested permission to interview Smith, or reportedly plan on asking permission to speak with Smith, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
The 38-year-old Smith began his coaching career at his alma mater in 2009, serving as a grad assistant for the North Carolina Tar Heels. He quickly made the jump to the NFL, however, and served as a defensive quality assistant with the Washington Redskins for two seasons. Smith then had another stint in the college ranks as the defensive intern and administrative assistant with Ole Miss in 2010 before the Titans got their hands on him. He served as a quality control coach on both sides of the ball and worked with the offensive line and tight ends before being promoted to offensive coordinator by head coach Mike Vrabel in 2019.
His accomplishments on the offensive side of the ball took the Titans as a franchise to another level. He took Miami Dolphins castoff Ryan Tannehill and turned him into the AP Comeback Player of the Year, as Tennessee registered two major postseason upsets to get to the AFC Championship game in 2019. Smith also turned second-round pick wideout A.J. Brown into an immediate star, and then of course helped running back Derrick Henry begin a run which could one day land him in Canton.
Henry and the Titans had the No. 3 rushing offense in the league in 2019, and the No. 2 rushing offense this past season. In both 2019 and 2020, Henry led the NFL in rushing yards and even made history this past Sunday against the Houston Texans. In the regular-season finale, Henry became just the eighth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a single season. Henry came into Week 17 needing 223 rushing yards to reach 2,000 on the year. While that single-game goal may have sounded unlikely for most running backs, Henry is a different animal. He rushed for 250 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries, which brought his total up to 2,027 yards on the season. That ranks No. 5 all-time.
Smith is one of the hottest candidates on the market, and it's beginning to seem likely he will be leading a new franchise into the future in 2021. Even his rivals in the Texans and Jaguars are tired of game-planning for his schemes, as both AFC South teams are considering him for head coach.
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