Falcons seek to improve in the red zone

October, 2, 2013
10/02/13
6:10
PM ET
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter takes his share of responsibility for the team’s ineffectiveness in the red zone.

The Falcons, with the league's seventh-best offense in terms of yardage, currently are 29th in the league in red-zone efficiency, scoring just seven touchdowns in 18 trips (38.9 percent) inside the opponent's 20-yard line. They were 1-of-6 in that area during last Sunday’s 30-23 loss to New England.

The Falcons had a 21-yard touchdown from Matt Ryan to Tony Gonzalez in that game, showing their ability to move the ball. But once they enter the red zone, it's a different story. Koetter admitted that a play or two from Sunday night would be dropped from the red-zone arsenal moving forward.

"I put that on me more than anybody else," Koetter said. "The good news was, we were down there seven times. ... It’s just a bad thing that we’re only getting 23 points.

"Not every single thing we did in the red zone the other night was a good play call. That’s just part of it. Every team has its own nuances, its own strengths, its own weaknesses, its own personality. We've got to get to the bottom of this and we've got to figure out how we’re going to get in the end zone."

Ryan took ownership for a few bad throws in the red zone Sunday. Koetter spoke about addressing those issues with the quarterback.

"That’s one of the great things about being around a guy like Matt: Matt always takes responsibility for his actions," Koetter said. "And if he doesn’t agree with what you’re telling him, you can have a discussion about it. And you’ve got to have some kind of resolution at the end.

"Matt is really good at expressing how he saw it. You either have to say, 'OK, we won’t do those types of plays anymore,' or, 'Here’s how we’re going to try to correct that type of thing.' There’s got to be some kind of common ground to come out of any discussion. … He’s easily the best guy I’ve ever been around as far as being able to communicate and make progress on how we can get things fixed."

Koetter and the offense have a chance to take a step forward against the New York Jets on Monday night. The Jets have allowed five touchdowns in 13 red-zone drives by their opponents.

"This would be a simple thing to solve if we could say, 'Hey, it’s just one thing. Let’s fix it.' But it’s more than that," Koetter said. "It’s just not one thing consistently. It’s across the board.

"The thing about red zone, we’ve been in the red zone 18 times and scored seven touchdowns. If you just score three more touchdowns – 55 percent in the red zone is going to get you top 10 in the NFL every year. … The bottom line is, we’re not making the plays. As a coaching staff, we’ve got to give them better plays."

Vaughn McClure

ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter

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