Chargers’ head coach candidates: Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith

Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith instructs his players.
Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith is a candidate for the Chargers head-coaching job.
(Mark Humphrey / Associated Press)

As the Chargers search for a new head coach to replace Anthony Lynn, The Times will examine candidates the team plans to interview. This is the first in a series of appraisals of the contenders, along with thoughts from NFL writer Sam Farmer:


Current Job: Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator.

Age: 38

Credentials: Smith is in his 12th season in the NFL and second overseeing the Titans offense. Riding Derrick Henry, Tennessee has finished in the top three the last two years in rushing offense. He also helped quarterback Ryan Tannehill resurrect his career last season after Tannehill replaced Marcus Mariota. The 2020 Titans were second in total offense and fourth in scoring.

Humble beginnings: Smith began his coaching career in 2006 as a graduate assistant at North Carolina, his alma mater. He also spent one year (2010) as an administrative assistant/defensive intern at Ole Miss.


One man’s view: “[Smith] was highly recommended by [former Tennessee coach] Mike Mularkey as a coach that you could trust, that was loyal, that was diligent, that was hard-working. He’s given everything that he’s been asked to and then some in whatever role that he was in.” — Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, via the Nashville Tennessean

Just because the Chargers have found their young franchise quarterback doesn’t mean the team will be seeking an offense-minded head coach, says Chargers GM Tom Telesco.

Jan. 6, 2021

Did you know?: Smith doesn’t coach because he needs the money. His father, Fred Smith, founded FedEx and is worth an estimated $5.6 billion.

Sam Farmer’s take: Arthur Smith will wind up being a head coach somewhere this year. What he’s done with Tennessee’s offense is really impressive — not so much because of Henry’s 2,000 yards because he’s a turn-key running back who takes care of himself — but because of the transformation of Tannehill into one of the game’s most efficient quarterbacks. Compare that to Tannehill’s stagnant development under Adam Gase in Miami. That’s got to be enticing for a team with a budding superstar in Justin Herbert. Smith isn’t as well-known as some of the other head coaching candidates out there, but he’s garnered a lot of respect around the league in recent years.