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Arthur Smith says football staff has "intense meetings" ahead regarding personnel 

The Falcons head coach continued to stand firm on Monday that changes are coming for Atlanta after bye week. 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The bye week is football's way of allowing not just rest but reflection, and Arthur Smith said on Monday that the latter will take precedent for the football staff.

"We will have some very intense meetings in the next couple of days," Smith said. "Obviously, I know where we're at. We understand, too, that we've been in some close games lately and we need to get back over the hump. There will be changes made. Everything that we decide to do I will be as transparent as possible."


That includes any potential change the staff plans to make at quarterback, which Smith has not specifically stated is out of the question. Making a move from Marcus Mariota to Desmond Ridder is one of the many decisions on the coaching staff's docket during the bye week.

When asked about the quarterback situation, Smith said on Monday that the Falcons are "still working through that."

This is a very different answer than the head coach had when he was asked the same thing following the Falcons loss to Caroline in Week 10. When asked about the quarterback situation then, Smith said that "there is no situation."

His answer has changed as the Falcons head into their bye week, and there's a specific reason for that. Things feel very different now, after the Falcons loss to the Steelers, than it did when the Falcons were coming off a short week after two losses to the Chargers and Panthers in five days' time.

"You don't want to look like you're just blaming one person, and if you think it's the best thing for you at that moment then, yeah, you're going to do (make a move) because that's what you're paid to do," Smith said on Monday afternoon. "Circumstances are very different today than they were a couple weeks ago for different reasons."

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota #1 and quarterback Desmond Ridder #4 walk out prior to the game against the Carolina Panthers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia on Sunday, October 30, 2022. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Atlanta Falcons)

Smith never said Ridder's name directly during his Monday press conference, opting instead to make sure to qualify every answer about a potential change at quarterback as something the Falcons are considering "at every position." Make no mistake about it, though: Just because Smith didn't say his name doesn't mean he wasn't the subject of Smith's Monday press conference.

Talking about the progress of rookies, Smith said the Falcons staff feels good about the development of first-year players on their roster, the ones who have seen action and the ones who haven't.

"We feel pretty confident in the guys we've been bringing along and what we've done practice-wise and their development program," Smith said. "If we have to play them, we feel (they are) more ready now than they may have been in August."

The Falcons drafted eight players in the 2022 NFL Draft. We've seen almost all of them throughout this season.

Drake London, Arnold Ebiketie, Troy Andersen, DeAngelo Malone and Tyler Allgeier have all played significant roles in their rookie year. The three we haven't seen are Ridder, Justin Shaffer and John FitzPatrick. Shaffer and FitzPatrick are on injured reserve. Ridder is the only rookie on the active roster for the Falcons who has not taken a live snap during a game day this year.

So, when Smith talks about rookies who are "guys that you may have seen," vs. the ones you "may not have seen yet," you can infer who he's talking about.

Smith said the last thing this staff wants to do is have a knee-jerk reaction to a result. However, he did add that he doesn't see a move made 13 games in as a knee-jerk reaction, regardless of position.

The head coach also added the Falcons are - of course - aware of the divisional standings, particularly with Tampa Bay facing New Orleans on Monday night. But that doesn't - and won't - affect their personnel decisions moving forward.

"There are a lot of things at stake," Smith said. "That will not have an impact. It's what's going to best for this team in the short term and long term (that will have an impact)."

And yes, that includes the quarterback position.

Smith will not speak to the media again until next Monday, which is after the Falcons bye week comes to a close. He assured that if there are significant personnel changes made he will disclose them then.

"Every change, especially when it goes into the regards of personnel, I'll be transparent," Smith said, "and we'll have decisions made."


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