Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Atlanta Falcons [Print without images]

Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Falcons have to be prepared to lose Koetter

By Vaughn McClure

The Atlanta Falcons have to seriously start considering potential offensive coordinator candidates, if they haven't compiled the list already.

All indications are Dirk Koetter, who currently runs the offense, has a serious interest and a serious chance to land the Boise State head-coaching position he first interviewed for on Monday. Head coach Mike Smith confirmed Koetter already talked to the school, and the 54-year-old Koetter reportedly has a second interview with Boise State president Bob Kustra on Tuesday, according to the Idaho Statesman.

The two sides apparently have been trying to coordinate a travel schedule – based on the weather – to bring Koetter out to Boise later in the week. It could mean an introductory news conference already is in the works.

Koetter served as Boise State's head coach from 1998-2000 and compiled a 26-10 record while there. His accomplishments included two consecutive bowl victories and the two-time Big West Coach of the Year. Koetter's success led to him taking over at Arizona State, where he was fired in 2006.

In a 2009 interview with the Arizona Republic, the Idaho native admitted there were times he contemplated how he might have been better off remaining at Boise State.

"Oh, yeah, I'd be lying if I didn't say that," Koetter told the newspaper. "I don't say that with regret or remorse. You can't live your life like that. You can't live your life in a rear-view mirror.''

But when an opportunity to return to place he didn't want to leave resurfaces, it might be too difficult to pass up.

Koetter grew up in Pocatello and played at Idaho State. He still owns a cabin in the resort town of McCall, located 111 miles north of Boise. He would replace Chris Petersen, who left the Broncos to take the head job at the University of Washington.

The Falcons already have lost one offensive coordinator under Smith when Mike Mularkey left after the 2011 season to become the head coach of Jacksonville. Mularkey lasted one season with the Jaguars and is out of coaching this season.

Koetter has orchestrated the offense over past two seasons and has been the subject of fan criticism this year. The Falcons have struggled throughout the season, in large part due to a season-ending foot injury to top receiver Julio Jones, along with nagging injuries that slowed both receiver Roddy White and running back Steven Jackson. Not to mention a struggling offensive line hasn't given quarterback Matt Ryan adequate protection and hasn't opened up holes in the running game.

Going into this Sunday's matchup against the Washington Redskins, Koetter's offense is ranked 30th in rushing, 20th in red zone percentage and 24th in goal-to-go percentage.

But during a 13-3 campaign in 2012, Koetter guided the offense to impressive numbers in numerous categories, including third-down efficiency (2nd), scoring efficiency (2nd), red zone points (3rd), scoring offense (7th) and passing offense (7th).

Most figured there would be offseason staff changes as the Falcons continue to limp through a 3-10 season. Losing Koetter could affect the team's draft strategy and lead to consideration of addressing offense with the first pick. If the season ended today, the Falcons would have the No. 3 overall pick behind the Houston Texans and St. Louis Rams (via Washington).

The Falcons said Tuesday morning Koetter is still scheduled to address the Atlanta media late Tuesday afternoon, as he does every week. But Smith already made clear his offensive coordinator would not discuss anything related to the Boise State position.

The players are sure to be questioned about it all week. White addressed it briefly on Monday.

"We've got three more games: Any decision he makes, he's a grown man," the receiver said. "He's a good guy, good coach, great offensive coordinator. Good mind. If he takes the job, then he takes it. If he doesn't, he doesn't.''