Tag Archives: dirk koetter

Steven Jackson and the Falcons Passing Game

Expect Steven Jackson to be featured heavily in Atlanta's passing game. (David Tullis)

Expect Steven Jackson to be featured heavily in Atlanta’s passing game. (David Tullis)

Back in February – before the Atlanta Falcons officially signed Steven Jackson – I speculated what the running back would bring to Falcons passing game.

Recently, during organized team activities, head coach Mike Smith had this to say to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“He’s a big strong running back that catches the ball extremely well. He creates issues for defenses. He’s just another weapon that we have in our offensive arsenal. He’s a guy who had close to 100 catches in a season, so he’s a guy that we can use in the passing game. He’s not just a running back, he’s a receiving back as well.”

While Michael Turner was a monster for the majority of his time in Atlanta, he was woefully inept as a pass catcher. In his five seasons with the Falcons, Turner totaled 59 receptions for 457 yards and one touchdown. Over the same five-season span, Jackson caught 217 passes for 1,738 yards and two touchdowns.

Whether you want to look at Smith’s quote, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter’s penchant for using screen plays, or Jackson’s involvement with the passing game during his tenure with the St. Louis Rams, this much is certain: Steven Jackson will be featured heavily in the passing game with Atlanta. Pair Jackson with Jacquizz Rodgers and you’ve got a couple of running backs who should pose several problems out of the backfield for defenses, particularly when you factor in Tony Gonzalez, Julio Jones, and Roddy White.

 

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Mike Smith Named Coach of the Year by Sporting News

It’s the third time Mike Smith has been selected as Coach of the Year by Sporting News. (Scott Boehm)

Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith has been named Coach of the Year by Sporting News. It’s the third time Smith earned the award; he was also named Coach of the Year in 2008 and 2010.

Smith coached the Falcons to a 13-3 record and a playoff win – the first since the 2004 season. Atlanta failed to make the Super Bowl, but that doesn’t take away from the job Smith did this year. Taking into consideration he had two new coordinators (offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan), and the season is even more impressive.

Over the past five seasons, Smith has racked up 56 wins to just 24 losses. That’s impressive anyway you slice it.

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Divisional Round Preview: Atlanta Falcons Vs. Seattle Seahawks

Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons’ 0-3 record in the playoffs since 2008 is well-known and brought up aplenty. The pressure is on for the Falcons to get that playoff win.

Atlanta was bounced out of the playoffs in embarrassing fashion the last two years, losing 48-21 to the Green Bay Packers in 2010, and 24-2 to the New York Giants in 2011.

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Dave Caldwell to Become Jaguars’ General Manager

Dave Caldwell should do well as the Jaguars' general manager.

Dave Caldwell should do well as the Jaguars’ general manager.

Atlanta Falcons director of player personnel Dave Caldwell will become the Jacksonville Jaguars’ new general manager. The two sides agreed to terms today.

Caldwell, along with coaches Keith Armstrong, Dirk Koetter, and Mike Nolan all drew interest from other teams. It’s what happens when a franchise puts together a successful season.

Like it has been since 2008 with the current regime, it’ll be the next man up to assume the vacated job.

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Atlanta and the Screen Game

Dirk Koetter's screen game is a welcome addition to Atlanta's offense.

Dirk Koetter’s screen game is a welcome addition to Atlanta’s offense.

One of the main reasons the Atlanta Falcons hired offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter was his usage of the screen game. Former offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, who is now the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, rarely used the screen pass during his tenure in Atlanta.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Matt Ryan completed 62 of 69 screen passes for 495 yards and a league-high six touchdowns.

Last season, the quarterback completed 16 screen passes for a paltry 68 yards with no touchdowns. In fact, the last time Ryan threw a touchdown on a screen pass was in 2009.

As it stands now, the screen game is essentially an extension of the run game.

Mularkey’s aversion to implementing the screen game was a bit confusing; when you have several players – Harry Douglas, Julio Jones, Jacquizz Rodgers, and Roddy White – who can make moves in space and get up field quickly, why would you not take advantage of that and put the ball in their hands?

Luckily, Koetter will be in Atlanta for at least two more years.

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Dirk Koetter Staying Put in Atlanta

Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter won’t be a head coach for at least another two years.

Alex Marvez of Fox Sports is reporting the Falcons have signed Koetter to a two-year extension.

That’s certainly a relief. Although I said losing Koetter wouldn’t be a tremendous blow for the Falcons’ talented offense, it’s nice to keep the same face around. Learning two different offenses in two years isn’t ideal for any team.

Here’s to more success for Atlanta’s offense in the next couple of years.

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Falcons Coordinators Drawing Lots of Attention

In addition to offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, the Philadelphia Eagles are interviewing special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan for their open head coach position on Wednesday.

The Jacksonville Jaguars interviewed Atlanta’s director of player personnel David Caldwell.

It’s really not surprising Atlanta’s coaches are getting lots of attention after putting together a 13-3 season. Their value will only rise if Atlanta wins a couple of playoff games.

It would be a shame to see any of them leave, but if opportunity presents itself, it’s only natural these guys leap at it.

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Falcons Could Lose Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter

The Atlanta Falcons’ decision to hire the former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator was questioned by many. Dirk Koetter’s offense was one of the league’s worst, but that was evidently in large part to the lack of talent.

After turning the Falcons into one of the league’s best offenses and helping Matt Ryan turn in his best season to date, Koetter has become a hot commodity.

The offensive coordinator is reportedly drawing interest from the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, and Philadelphia Eagles. Koetter is set to interview with the Chiefs on Tuesday.

It would be a shame to see Koetter go. With that said, the Falcons have loads of talent on offense, and any decent coordinator should be able to come in and have success.

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Michael Turner Frustrated with Falcons Running Game

Michael Turner rushes against the Denver Broncos. (John Bazemore)

Since Dirk Koetter was hired, there was speculation as to how running back Michael Turner would fit in the up-tempo offense. Turner, who is a power back, gets better the more he touches the ball. Under former offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, Turner often received 20+ carries a game. This season, he has averaged 14 carries per game. Against the Oakland Raiders yesterday, Turner had 11 carries for just 33 yards.

Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution highlights Turner’s frustration:

“I’m not sure why it’s going like this,” Turner said. “It’s great to be 6-0 and everything. But we can’t just assume we’re always going to be able to get an interception or a last-minute field goal every time. At some point we’re going to have to run the ball. We’ve got to be able to knock it in [the endzone].”

The running back’s concern is legitimate. The Falcons’ rushing offense is ranked 25th in the league, averaging 86.5 yards per game. On the season, Turner has 357 yards and three touchdowns.

What’s disturbing, though, is Turner’s implied disconnection from the offense when asked about the confidence the team has in him:

“You would have to ask them that. That’s not something they would tell me. It’s their team, their scheme, their offense. I’m just here to try to help them win.”

Let’s hope the Falcons remember how to run block during the bye week.

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Memo to Matt Ryan: Never Pass to Joe Hawley Again

With Lousaka Polite injured, running back Jason Snelling and backup center Joe Hawley have been taking snaps at fullback.

It’s okay to throw Hawley in the fullback spot for extra beef in a heavy package.

It is, however, NOT okay to actually pass to Hawley. On his first target, the backup center hit the ball in the air as if he were digging a volleyball. The Falcons were fortunate the ball wasn’t intercepted.

To make matters worse, Ryan targeted Hawley again later in the game. This time, the ball just went through Hawley’s hands.

There are ALWAYS better receiving options than a center. Always.

Ryan: Hawley should never be a viable checkdown option, ever. Dirk Koetter: rip that play out of your playbook.

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