All-Pro running back Derrick Henry has worked with Falcons head coach Arthur Smith since he was drafted back in 2016. So, if there's anyone who knows what being coached by Smith is like, it's Henry.
And he couldn't have given Atlanta's new head coach a better endorsement than he did on Thursday.
"I'm excited for Arthur," Henry said. "I'm going to miss Arthur, man. [I've] been with Arthur since I came into the NFL and started playing for the [Titans] organization. Arthur is a great guy. I couldn't think of anyone else who is more deserving of the opportunity. I know he's going to do a great job. I wish him the best. Everybody on offense and in the organization is going to miss him."
With Smith as his offensive coordinator, Henry reached career-highs in almost every statistical category. In 2019, Smith's first season as offensive coordinator for the Titans, Henry rushed for 1,540 yards and a league-leading 16 touchdowns. The following season, Henry rushed for 2,027 yards and 17 yards.
Smith also orchestrated one of the league's best red zone units in addition to his top-ranked rushing offense. The Titans ranked No. 2 in red zone scoring as they scored on 74 percent of their trips to red zone last season. In 2019, they ranked No. 1 in red zone scoring offense converting on 77 percent of their opportunities in the red area.
One of the biggest areas the Falcons' offense needs help are two of Smith's biggest strengths: Run game and red zone. The Falcons ranked in the bottom half of the league in both areas in the 2020 season.
Since taking the job, Smith has repeatedly said his coaching staff will play to the strengths of its roster. While Henry's size, speed and strength are hard to replicate at the running back position, the Falcons will likely add to the position whether it be through free agency and the draft.
Head coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot visit Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the first time and received a full tour from President & CEO Rick McKay.