New offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter hasn’t started the job just yet, but he’s pledging to put a balance offense on the field next season.
“Balance is difficult to defend,’’ Koetter said in a conference call with the Atlanta media Wednesday morning. “When you have the weapons that Atlanta has in the run game and the pass game, you’d be foolish not to take advantage of everything that has to offer. There are various ways to get guys the ball. You have to get your play makers the ball in a place to make plays.’’
Getting big plays was an issue for the Falcons in a 2011 season that was marked by inconsistency on offense and a playoff loss to the New York Giants in a game in which the Atlanta offense did not score a point.
Koetter, who spent the last five years as offensive coordinator in Jacksonville, replaces Mike Mularkey, who became the head coach of the Jaguars. Owner Arthur Blank, coach Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff each have said simply making the playoffs isn’t good enough. The Falcons have made the playoffs in three of Smith’s four seasons, but have yet to win a postseason game. Clearly, part of Koetter’s job will be to help the Falcons take the next step.
“There’s pressure everywhere and nobody puts more pressure on me than I put on myself,’’ Koetter said. “All I can say is I’ll be extremely dedicated to the task at hand and I understand the task at hand.’’
After a 2011 season in which Jacksonville wound up playing rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert and a very ordinary group of wide receivers, Koetter is stepping into a situation in which he inherits quarterback Matt Ryan, receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones, tight end Tony Gonzalez and running back Michael Turner.
“Everybody can read the stats and know they have excellent skill players,’’ Koetter said. “How everything fits together, that will be stuff that we’ll be working on once we get up there.’’
Koetter said he expects to arrive in Atlanta and begin working later this week. He already met with Ryan while he was interviewing for the position.
“You can tell Matt’s a guy that really understands offensive football and that he’s got a great passion for not only playing, but for winning,’’ Koetter said. “I couldn’t be more excited to work with Matt as well as some of the other players they have in that offensive group.’’
Koetter said his offense in Atlanta will be a combination of the existing offense and some things he’s done in the past.
“I don’t know if anybody owns any offense out there,’’ Koetter said. “There’s a lot of good offense out there. I think it will be a combination of some of the things that I’ve done in the past and things that Atlanta has done well in the past. I think we’d be foolish to not build on some of the things Atlanta is already doing very well.’’
Koetter said he and Ryan discussed the no-huddle offense, something the Falcons have had success with in recent years. Koetter said Ryan made it clear he likes the no-huddle system and that’s something the Falcons will continue to use at times. But Koetter said he’s not ready to declare a percentage on how often the Falcons will go without a huddle.
Koetter said both the running game and vertical passing will be big parts of his offense. But he also said something that should come as welcome news to Atlanta fans, who often griped that Mularkey almost never used screen passes.
“I’m a big believer in the screen game,’’ Koetter said. “Coach Smith has mentioned to me that he would like us to be a better screen team and that’s definitely a part of what we’ll try to do there.’’