Matt Schaub gives insight into Falcons GM candidate Rick Smith

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 30:  Matt Schaub #8 of the Atlanta Falcons speaks with the media during Super Bowl 51 Opening Night at Minute Maid Park on January 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 30: Matt Schaub #8 of the Atlanta Falcons speaks with the media during Super Bowl 51 Opening Night at Minute Maid Park on January 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Credit: Tim Warner

Credit: Tim Warner

Former Houston general manager Rick Smith made a trade with then-Falcons general manager Rich McKay in 2007 to land quarterback Matt Schaub.

Schaub went on to guide the Texans through 2013. Smith currently is a candidate for the Falcons’ open general manager position.

“He does a great job,” Schaub said of Smith on Tuesday. “One thing I can say about Rick is that he did a really good job of identifying talent and the type of players.”

With Schaub, wide receiver Andre Johnson and undrafted running back Arian Foster, the Texans turned into AFC South champions.

“He worked really well in conjunction with Gary Kubiak, who was our head coach,” Schaub said. “Knowing the type of players, the style and how they would fit with what we were trying to do. Finding the best players to perform those roles.

“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)
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)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Name: Rick Smith

Age: 50

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)

4. Falcons

5. Cincinnati Bengals

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