NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans have found their offensive coordinator, and he’s a familiar face – successful assistant coach Arthur Smith.
Smith has been promoted after wrapping up his eighth season on the Titans coaching staff, and his third full season in charge of tight ends after taking over the group for the final nine games of the 2015 season.
Smith’s position group has been productive, led by veteran tight end Delanie Walker. He’s also helped develop young players, including tight end Jonnu Smith.
“I am excited for Arthur and for our team to be able to elevate a deserving coach,” said Titans head coach Mike Vrabel. “I was impressed throughout the season in gameplan meetings with his ideas, in-game with his understanding of situations and the ability to get the most out of his position group. We spent a good bit of time last week talking about this opportunity. He has a great deal of familiarity with our players and the continuity of the offense will allow our players to continue to develop and improve.”
The change at offensive coordinator will give quarterback Marcus Mariota his fifth play-caller heading into his fifth NFL season.
“Art has been steady support since I’ve gotten into the league,” Mariota said. “It’s been a true blessing to have gotten to know him and I’m excited to work with him. His ability to consistently get our guys prepared week in and week out has been impressive. I'm looking forward to working with him in his new role.”
During his time in Tennessee, Smith has worked under four different head coaches – a testament to his reputation and success. Smith began under head coach Mike Munchak, and he was also hired by Ken Whisenhunt before Mike Mularkey promoted him when he took over.
Smith replaces Matt LaFleur as offensive coordinator under Vrabel. LaFleur left to take over as head coach of the Green Bay Packers earlier this month.
Vrabel retained Smith last offseason after getting the head coaching job.
In an interview with Titans Online earlier this month, Titans general manager Jon Robinson said he’s confident Mariota will be able to adapt.
“Marcus is a smart guy,” Robinson said. “We’ll work at it. Whatever we ask of him from a studying and learning and terminology standpoint, I am confident that he’ll definitely put the time in to try and be his best.”
Smith served as assistant tight ends coach in 2014 and the early part of 2015 before being promoted in the second half of the season. He was an offensive line/tight end assistant in 2013, and an offensive assistant/quality control coach in 2012 after serving as a defensive assistant/quality control coach in 2011.
Prior to joining the Titans, Smith served as an administrative assistant/defensive intern at the University of Mississippi in 2010, and he was a defensive assistant/quality control coach with the Washington Redskins in 2007-08. Smith was a graduate assistant at the University of North Carolina in 2006.
From 2014-17, Walker’s 3,585 total receiving yards in that time ranked third in the NFL behind only Rob Gronkowski (3,924) and Travis Kelce (3,900). Additionally, Walker was named to three consecutive Pro Bowls. Walker was injured in the season opener this past season.
In 2018, Jonnu Smith made great strides under Arthur Smith’s tutelage, finishing the season with 20 catches for 258 yards and three touchdowns before being injured.
Under Smith’s direction, the tight ends have also played a big part in the team’s success in the running game. From 2015 through 2017, the team ranked sixth in the NFL with 114.7 rushing yards. Running back DeMarco Murray led the AFC with 1,287 rushing yards in 2016.
Running back Derrick Henry ran for 1,059 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2018.
Smith, born and raised in Memphis, graduated from North Carolina and played offensive line before joining the coaching staff for one season as a graduate assistant, where he worked with the offensive line. He went to high school at Georgetown Prep in North Bethesda, Maryland.
TitansOnline looks back at the coaching career of the team's new offensive coordinator, Arthur Smith. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)