“That’s key in today’s game. If you’ve identified on both sides of the football what you want to be? What your identity is going to be? Both in run and pass? Defensively? Up front? What scheme? Coverages? Finding players that do those things really good.
“There are a lot of really talented players, but they are built for certain systems. If you find yourself finding players that don’t really fit in those roles, then things can go sideways. I think Rick did a really good job of piecing our team together for staying power and also being able to fit our system.”
The Falcons have interviewed five GM candidates.
In addition to Smith, the Falcons have interviewed director of college scouting Anthony Robinson, Colts director of college scouting Morocco Brown, Rams director of college scouting Brady Holmes and Saints vice president/assistant general manager–pro personnel Terry Fontenot.
Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith, left, and Texans chief operating officer Cal McNair, right, give a standing ovation to former Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson during a retirement ceremony for Johnson at NRG Stadium on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, in Houston. Johnson signed a one-day contract to retire as a Texans player. ( Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)
Name: Rick Smith
Current role: No current role.
Background: He was the executive vice president of football operations for the Houston Texans from 2012-17. He was general manager from 2006-17.
When interviewed: Dec. 18 (Virtually)
Why he makes sense: He took over from Charlie Casserly and was responsible for all aspects of the football operation, including the salary cap, which is an issue with the Falcons moving forward. He was with the Denver when they won Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII. He played at Purdue, and he drafted potential future Hall of Famers J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins.
Why he doesn’t: His Texans teams were good, but not great. Houston didn’t draft a franchise quarterback during his tenure. They traded with the Falcons for Matt Schaub, and from 2013-17 didn’t have a good quarterback. Over 12 seasons, the Texans went to the playoffs just four times and never moved past the division round. Things got messy at the end in Houston between Smith and since-fired coach Bill O’Brien in a power struggle. The Falcons must investigate this issue.
Falcons’ 2021 draft position
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
2. New York Jets
3. Miami Dolphins (via Houston)
5. Cincinnati Bengals
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