NFC South: Zeke Bratkowski

I still have lots of leftover stuff from the NFL owners meeting in New Orleans in March, so let’s grab onto another chunk of it right now.

The Atlanta Falcons have been very quiet this offseason. The lockout has kept them from making any transactions and their players haven’t been in any trouble (see Aqib Talib in Tampa Bay). Perhaps the biggest move so far in Atlanta has been the hiring of quarterbacks coach Bob Bratkowski.

Bill Musgrave had been in that position through Matt Ryan’s entire tenure in the league. Along with offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, Musgrave widely was credited with Ryan’s rapid development. But Musgrave left after this past season to become offensive coordinator in Minnesota.

The Falcons quickly went out and hired Bratkowski, who recently had been fired by Cincinnati after serving as offensive coordinator there from 2001 through last season. Bratkowski is the son of former University of Georgia quarterback Zeke Bratkowski, but that has nothing to do with why he got the job.

Much of Bratkowski’s time in Cincinnati was spent working with Carson Palmer, who had some good seasons, but also had his career interrupted by injury. Bratkowski’s offense with the Bengals was fairly similar to what the Falcons run and Ryan, like Palmer, is mostly a pocket passer.

Bratkowski also had stints as an assistant coach in Pittsburgh and Seattle, after starting his coaching career on the college level. He did a stint as Seattle’s offensive coordinator. At the owners meeting, I asked coach Mike Smith about the hiring of Bratkowski and he said he expects the transition to be very smooth.

“Bob has worked with a very successful quarterback in this league and is highly respected,’’ Smith said. “He’s been an offensive coordinator for a number of years and a number of teams. I feel Bob is going to be a very solid addition to our coaching staff. He has a very good background in the passing game. His teams through the years have always been able to throw the football. We’re excited about integrating Bob into our coaching staff and our offensive system.”

There’s a little more to this and Smith didn’t get into that, but I will. There had been some thinking around the Falcons that Mularkey could be moving on to a head-coaching job and Musgrave was viewed as his logical heir apparent as coordinator. Mularkey drew some interest this offseason, but only interviewed for one job. He could be a candidate for another job after next season and it’s wise for the Falcons to have a guy like Bratkowski already in place.

He’s experienced as a quarterbacks coach and can be fine in that job. But he also could step up and be a coordinator again if Mularkey moves on.

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