Dirk Koetter staying is one less distraction

December, 11, 2013
12/11/13
10:25
AM ET
Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter interviewed for the Boise State head coaching job this week. However, the position was awarded to Arkansas State's Bryan Harsin, according to ESPN's Joe Schad.

Koetter addressed the situation briefly Tuesday and only confirmed he had talked with the school. He served as Boise State's head coach from 1998-2000 and compiled a 26-10 record. His accomplishments included two consecutive bowl victories and the Big West Coach of the Year award twice. Plus Koetter grew up in Pocatello, Idaho, and played at Idaho State.

In others words, Koetter was interested in the job, from all indications.

More than anything, the news of Harsin's hiring takes a distraction away from what already has been a difficult season for the 3-10 Falcons. Players such as quarterback Matt Ryan won't have to answer questions about the possibility of losing his offensive coordinator. And head coach Mike Smith won't have to face inquiries about possible replacements for Koetter -- at least not immediately.

That being said, folks will wonder about Koetter's future with the team regardless. And the same goes for defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Such is inevitable when a 13-3 team suddenly falls to the bottom of the NFL standings.

The Falcons have some tough decisions to make, for sure. But cutting ties with Koetter shouldn't be one of them. He was handcuffed by the situation this season, particularly after losing top receiver Julio Jones to a season-ending foot injury after Week 5. It took the explosive element away from a high-powered offense. Such is hard to replace.

Not to mention Koetter hasn't had a fully healthy Roddy White all season, hasn't seen the best of Steven Jackson until as of late, and hasn't been helped by inconsistency along the offensive line.

Koetter absorbed his share of blame throughout the season, particularly with some goal-line play calls earlier in the year. He fully realizes expectations haven't been met.

"Personally, it's tough on everybody when you don't live up to your own expectations," Koetter said Tuesday. "I know [Smith] tells you guys all the time that nobody has higher expectations for the Falcons than the players and the coaches do. So, we haven't lived up to expectations. We have not played as well as we're capable of on offense. And when you're a football player or football coach, losing -- whether you like it or not -- it works on your ego side.

"But basically, life is good. I'm a football coach in the NFL. I'm doing what I love to do and I'm working with great, great guys; players and coaches. But we need to win more games, plain and simple."

When the offense is back at full strength, Koetter should help the Falcons get back to their winning ways.

Vaughn McClure

ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter

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