It's official. After weeks of building up the anticipation, the Pittsburgh Steelers have named Arthur Smith as their new offensive coordinator. Following an interview with the team on Sunday, there was plenty of speculation that this would be the choice Mike Tomlin would go with. That proved to be the case.
Just one day before Arthur Smith was hired, team president Art Rooney II spoke with the media and made it clear that this was a 'Mike Tomlin decision'. In hindsight, one has the right to wonder if he was trying to wash his hands of this hiring.
Smith was the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons from 2021 to 2023 before being relieved of his duties ahead of the 2024 offseason. During his three-year stint as Atlanta's HC, Smith's offense averaged just 19.7 points per game. In comparison, a Matt Canada-led Steelers team during the same stretch fell just short of this -- recording 18.7 points per game.
As you can imagine, not every fan or member of the Pittsburgh Steelers media took kindly to this news. Here were some of their reactions on X (formerly Twitter).
Steelers fans want more innovation in the passing game; not more of the same
Reading through all of these comments (and dozens of others) it's very clear that the Steelers fanbase wanted Mike Tomlin and the team to go with an innovative young mind who could revamp a stagnant passing offense. Unfortunately, that's not Arthur Smith's forte.
Smith has already been known for specializing in producing some of the league's best rushing attacks. Admittedly, this is a great trait to have... but the Steelers are already one of the best teams in the league at running the football. They don't seem to need a lot of help in this department either.
On the other hand, the passing game has been an utter mess since the final years of Ben Roethlisberger, and that's something former OC Matt Canada was completely incapable of fixing. Pittsburgh averaged a dismal 187.8 passing yards per game in 2023.
This is where the fan frustration comes in. Over Smith's five years as an offensive play-caller (two years as the Titans' OC and three years as the Falcons' HC), he has never produced an offense that has managed as much as 225 passing yards per game. To put that into perspective, 225 passing yards per game -- higher than any mark an Arthur Smith offense has reached -- would have been good for just 18th in the NFL during the 2023 season.
Tomlin's decision to hire Arthur Smith as the next offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers doesn't come as a surprise. Tomlin wants to run the ball effectively and avoid risky plays. That's right up Smith's wheelhouse.
There's little doubt that the new OC will be better than Matt Canada and Randy Fichtner who came before him, but fans and the media alike are having a hard time getting excited about this coaching decision, and I can't say that I blame them.