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Arthur Smith Fails To Adequately Use Bijan Robinson, Own Brain

Atlanta Falcons head coach looking kind of furtive and weird on the sidelines during his team's loss to the Miami Dolphins in 2021.
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

As everyone (me) continues to revel in the Josh Dobbs ascension, it’s worth taking a moment to consider the team that was on the losing end of Dobbs’s heroics on Sunday afternoon. The Atlanta Falcons have now lost five of their last seven, and finally benched starter Desmond Ridder in favor of Taylor Heinicke, a fake gunslinger who exists only to get Mark Schlereth excited. That gambit, unsurprisingly, failed within three quarters of its implementation.

It's not news that the Falcons have had a problem with their quarterback room. They've had that problem for years, now, and the organization has known as much. This is presumably why they drafted Texas RB Bjian Robinson eighth overall last spring. If they couldn’t pass the ball, which they indeed cannot, at least they’d be able to run the shit out of it.

Ah, well, about that. Robinson has yet to get more than 19 carries in any game this season. He was mysteriously given just one carry three weeks ago against Tampa Bay despite being active. And he only got 11 carries against Minnesota last week, with head coach Arthur Smith opting to let Heinicke—a spunky interception waiting to happen—throw the ball 38 times instead. Please keep in mind that former first-round pick WR Drake London wasn’t active for this game, and that the Falcons’ best sequence came in the form of a 13-play touchdown drive in which they attempted just one pass. It behooved them not only to run the ball, but to use their resident stud back for the bulk of that job. So, Artie, why aren’t you running the ball more? Why aren’t you running the BEST guy more?

"Sometimes, his impact away from the ball can open things up," Smith said in his postgame press conference. "For any rookie, the seasons are long. You’re going to have ebbs and flows. He still has a huge impact on the game."

This is an awfully abstract way to talk about a guy that you could just have your quarterback hand the football to, but Smith has a lot invested in the idea that his job is much more complicated than any outside observer could understand.

As the Falcons have free-fallen out of playoff contention, Smith has endorsed Ridder as his starting QB the same week that he benched him, demanded reporters stick to politics when asking about Robinson’s injury status, and lashed out at Kurt Warner for stating the obvious about this team’s offense in a film breakdown. Now, not only is his QB room a haven of despair, but his running back room isn’t terribly happy either. A wiser organization might have had a succession plan for Matt Ryan already well in place by the time he began to decline, let alone after he first left town and then retired. A merely competent organization would have at least milked Bijan and his rookie contract for all it was worth. The Falcons are neither, and their head coach is a simpering boob.

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