The numbers don’t look very good on the surface. Atlanta Falcons’ new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter led the league’s 32nd-ranked offense last season as offensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
And for a talented team like the Falcons that struggled offensively at times during the season and was shut out during the post season, hiring a coordinator from the league’s worst-ranked offense was not the news Falcons’ fans wanted to hear.
So the Falcons have geared up their public relations efforts this offseason in order to educate the public on their reasoning behind Koetter’s hiring. On the surface it looks like Falcons’ coach Mike Smith is just hiring another one of his buddies to come in and work with him but there is a little more to it.
With absolutely no passing game to speak of and with every defense knowing that the Jaguars were going to run the ball, Maurice Jones-Drew still ran for 1,606 yards last year which led the league. He was also able to average a respectable 4.7 yards-per-carry while doing it.
The ability to run the ball is very vital for the Falcons. One of the Falcons’ most memorable plays of the season was a failed 4th-and-1 rushing attempt in their overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints.
In order to remedy this, the Falcons are moving away from the man-blocking scheme they have used the last four years in favor of a zone-blocking scheme. They released offensive line coach Paul Boudreau and signed former Fresno State head coach Pat Hill.
The zone-blocking scheme is supposed to be a better fit for the bigger linemen that Thomas Dimitroff has drafted over the past few years. It’s also the blocking scheme that Koetter used in Jacksonville.
Coach Smith has also expressed a desire to use more screen passes and draw plays than they used under former coordinator Mike Mularkey. These plays are designed to slow down pass rushers by giving them more to think about as they are heading up field.
The Falcons assessed their failed attempt to become a dynamic passing team after watching how the Saints, Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots fared in the playoffs this year. They feel that a more balanced attack like the one the New York Giants employed fits the personnel on this team.
That is another reason they cited for hiring Koetter actually. Koetter is a more aggressive play-caller than Mularkey was but he also believes in a balanced attack which makes it harder for teams to predict what you are going to do.
A lot of the things that Dimitroff and Smith have been saying about Koetter and his play-calling abilities sound good but I’m still not quite convinced. Let me see an improvement to how the Falcons play on the field if you really want to sell someone on hiring him.
Roosevelt Hall is an NFL Blogger for The Sport Mentalist and an NBA Blogger for The Sport Mentalist 2. He is also a Sports Reporter for Pro Sports Lives. He can be contacted at RHall_TPFB@Yahoo.com and be sure to follow him on Twitter @sportmentalist.