Last January the Atlanta Falcons named Dirk Koetter offensive coordinator. Previously Dirk was the OC at Jacksonville which finished dead last in offense. Confused? Me too but there is a good side. In his first year at Jacksonville, Dirk improved the Jaguars offense to 7thbest in the league with Maurice Jones-Drew tearing up defenses and David Garrard looking like a competitive NFL quarterback. The Falcons certainly are providing him with better personnel so that leaves me with three questions for Coach Koetter:
1. Will Dirk stick to his roots of a vertical passing game?
Dirk Koetter was the genesis of the Boise State dynasty. He was the head coach from 1998-2000 where he went 26-10 then handing the reigns over to Dan Hawkins. He did this primarily through a vertical passing game that put up a lot of points; they scored 66 points in a game…twice. And by most standards, that is pretty good. With Matt Ryan entering his fifth season in the NFL there are very few concerns about his game. However, vertical passing has been one of those concerns. Will Dirk Koetter be able to change Matt Ryan’s long ball misfortunes? Or will Dirk Koetter adapt to his players and institute an offensive system that is more suitable for his franchise quarterback?
2. Was it talent’s fault or coaches’ fault in Jacksonville?
Take a look up and down Jacksonville’s roster and it will not take long to recognize the lack of talent on the depth chart. There are two, maybe three players that would compete for a starting job on the Falcons depth chart and everyone else you could take or leave. So will Dirk Koetter sleep a little better at night with a veteran NFL quarterback with 45 wins under his belt, a legendary tight end who does not know the meaning of getting old and two wide receivers both of whom would be a number one receiver on 70% of the teams in the league? Or was it flat out lack of coaching that sent Jacksonville’s offense into the gutters these past few seasons?
3. Will the Falcons develop a three headed monster rushing attack?
As mentioned earlier, Dirk is a fan of vertical passing but what will set up those vertical passes? First off, a sizeable amount of credit needs to go to Michael Turner who, quite literally, carried this team his first two season in Atlanta. His ability to control games in 2008 and, when he was healthy in 2009 really helped Matt Ryan develop as a star quarterback. Problem is, Turner isn’t getting any younger and certainly isn’t getting any faster. It was nice to see the Falcons keep Jason Snelling but he does not have the capability to be a game changer or even a big time playmaker. Snelling is a solid running back but will probably never break a 70 yard run or take over a game. Jacquizz Rodgers certainly showed some flashes in his very limited role last year but his durability is still in question. So in short, the Falcons have 3 pretty good running backs but if used/coached) properly they could be a very effective tandem.
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