NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans tight end Delanie Walker knows new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith well.
And Walker couldn’t have been any more fired up after hearing the news of Smith’s promotion.
“I would say he’s a great hire,” Walker said of Smith. “The guy has worked on defense, offense, and he's been in every room. He knows the game, he studies his butt off and I know he is going to be a great OC. I am going to do everything in my power to make sure I can provide for him and make sure he is successful.
“The dude knows what he is doing. He understands football.”
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 the veteran Walker. He’s also helped develop young players, including tight end Jonnu Smith.
Smith replaces Matt LaFleur as offensive coordinator under head coach Mike Vrabel. LaFleur left to take over as head coach of the Green Bay Packers earlier this month.
“When he first took over for Mike Mularkey, the way he taught us the plays and the way he gave us the ideas on the concepts of what the coaches wanted,” Walker said of Smith, “it was probably one of the best ways I ever had a coach teach up the plays, and I think everyone in that room could say the same thing about his structure.
“Giving him this opportunity and the way he wanted it, I know he is going to take advantage of this and never look back. I am excited to find out the offense he is going to run, and how he is going to install it. … I will be there supporting him every step of the way. I can’t tell you how excited I am to see him get this job.
“I know his goal is to be a head coach in this league, and this is just another step for him.”
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 also hired by Ken Whisenhunt before Mularkey promoted him when he took over.
Vrabel retained Smith last offseason after getting the head coaching job.
The change at offensive coordinator will give quarterback Marcus Mariota his fifth play-caller heading into his fifth NFL season.
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 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.
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.
What might the offense look like in 2019?
“I think it might be similar (to last year), just because Art knew that offense so well,” Walker said. “But I am sure he is going to tweak some things, because every OC does that to make it their offense, and I know he’ll want to make it his offense as the first time as an OC. He will probably do some same things, but tweak it a little bit.
“I know he will do his best to keep it simple so guys will understand the offense. But Art understands the game, he understands the locker room, and I am sure he is going to make it great, and allow people to make plays.”
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.
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.
“Once I heard the news today, I called Art,” Walker said. “We had a little talk, and I am just so excited about it. Art is my guy, and I am just happy. I am happy he is getting this opportunity.”
TitansOnline looks back at the coaching career of the team's new offensive coordinator, Arthur Smith. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)