FLOWERY BRANCH – New Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter participated in a conference call with the local media today.
He met with quarterback Matt Ryan for about an hour during the interview process.
Koetter said he has more film study to do on the Falcons, but stated that he’s a proponent of the vertical passing game, running the football and that he’s been ordered to improve the team’s screen passing attack.
Here’s what he had to say:
Q: What are your thoughts on being named the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons?
A: (Laughs!) Obviously, I’m thrilled to be named. It’s a chance for me to work inside a great organization with a tremendous coaching staff led by coach [Mike] Smith and a team that’s got a great group of players. Who wouldn’t be excited about that.
Q: Will you bring your offense? Or will you be keeping what’s here? And, where does the no-huddle fit in your operation?
Well, I think probably a combination. I don’t know if anybody owns any offenses out there. There is a lot of good offense out there. I think it would be a combination of things that I have done in the past and things that Atlanta has done well in the past. I think it would be foolish to not build on some of the things that Atlanta is already doing very well and take advantage of those coaches that are going to remain on the staff and what they’ve done. Definitely, watching from afar, Atlanta played well in the no-huddle. Talking to Matt Ryan, that is something that Matt is excited about so the no-huddle will certainly be a part of it. What percentage is still to be determined.
Q: Have you gone back and looked at that film of the Jacksonville game?
A: That is one of the few films that I have seen because with the coaching change, I haven’t been able to get to all of my film the last few days. I’m anxious to watch all of the games. That will be one of my first orders of business when I get there. I did watch that game. Obviously, the Falcons played tremendous that night when we played them. They were on fire that night. I’m anxious to watch all 16 of them.
Q: What can you share about your conversions with Matt Ryan?
A: I’m looking forward to working with Matt. I had studied Matt when he came out of Boston College four years ago. I loved him at the time. Since we practiced against Atlanta the last two years, I got to see him in those settings as well. I had met him a couple of times before. I’d always been impressed. I had a chance to sit down with him the other day for about an hour or so. You can tell that Matt is a guy who really understands offensive football. He’s got a great passion for not only playing, but winning. I couldn’t be more excited to work with Matt as well as some of the excellent players that they have on that offensive group.
Q: Have you studied some of the other offensive personnel, other than the big wideouts and Tony [Gonzalez]? Players like Kerry Meier, Harry Douglas and Jacquizz Rodgers and how they might fit into the operation?
A: I’ve been locked out of my film. I haven’t had a chance to look at them. Julio for example, I studied him coming out for the draft a year ago. Guys that I studied for the draft, I have watched their college tape. . . . what some of those guys have done statistically, speaks for itself. Roddy [White], Tony Gonzalez, Michael Turner with back-to-back 1,300 yards, everybody can read the stats and know that those guys have excellent skill players there. How everything fits together, that will be stuff that we’ll be working on once I get up there.
Q: Folks want a playoff win badly. What would you say to this fan-base about what you hope to do given that you all have not been extremely successful on offense in Jacksonville?
A: Sure, yeah. Well, the Falcons have done very well over the last four years. You’ve got to make it to the playoffs first. They’ve done a good job of that. I’ve got to come in there and just do the best job that I can in trying to help everybody be the best that they can be. That’s all any coach can do. The fact that I’ve
got experience working [with] Mike Smith and I have tremendous respect for him as a leader and as a coach as well as the other members of that coaching staff and what they’ve already done . . . there is pressure everywhere. Nobody puts more pressure on me than I put on myself. All I can say is that I’ll be extremely dedicated to the task at hand and I’ll understand the task at hand.
Q: Are you still convinced that running the football is that big a part of professional football?
A: Running the football is definitely a part of professional football. That’s never going to go away. I’m a big believer in the vertical passing game. Every where I’ve been we’ve had an element of the vertical game. Your offense is always going to be dictated to some extent by your personnel. Every team in the NFL knows that you have to be able to run it even when they know you’re going to run it. You have to be able to throw it even when they know you’re going to throw it. Running the football, there’s definitely still a place for that in the NFL. You ask any defensive coach and one of the hardest things to defend is balance. Balance is difficult to defend. When you have got the weapons that Atlanta has in the skill positions, both in the pass game and the run game, I think you’d be foolish not to take advantage of everything that has to offer. But there are various ways to get guys the ball. You have to get playmakers the ball with a chance to make plays. There are different ways to do that. Obviously, the no-huddle, the screen-game, the play-action game, but there is definitely a time and place to run the football. In my five years in Jacksonville that was the strength of this team. When I first came here we had two tremendous backs in Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. It continued after Fred left with Maurice. Obviously, they have a similar situation there in the running game with Michael Turner.
Q: What is your timetable for being on site here?
A: Soon. Those details are being worked out today. I expect to be in Atlanta sometime later this week. The details of that are still being finalized as we speak. I’m anxious to get there and get started.
Q: With Green Bay and New Orleans losing, the two flashiest offenses in the NFL are out of the playoffs. What are you observations just watching this scenario over the last couple of days?
A: That’s why you play the games. Everybody wants to say it’s a passing league. Defense doesn’t matte
r. Running the ball doesn’t matter. But then look at what happened this weekend. The 49ers played a tremendous game and they are more of running and defensive team. They knocked out New Orleans, who was as hot as anybody. Then you know, Green Bay, arguably the best passing offense on the planet, gets beat at home by a hot Giants team. You guys know all too well how hot the Giants are. Again, that’s why we play the games. There are so many big things that go into winning and losing; the chemistry of the team, being hot at the right time, injuries, who’s healthy and who’s not. There are so many things that go into it. Today, here we are [and] we’re talking about little specifics of are we going to be a vertical passing team, are we going to be no-huddle team; in today’s NFL you have to be able to do everything well. It’s such a matchup game and it’s such a situational game, you’ve got to be able win some games in shootouts. You have to be able to win some games when there is bad weather and you’ve got to grind it out and run the ball. There are going to be some bad weather games not in Atlanta, but on the road. There are just so many possibilities and I think this weekend, this playoff scenario, just made that obvious to everyone.
Q: The Falcons struggled with the blocking while trying to throw the vertical passes early last season and the screen game didn’t work arguably because of the blocking. How do you coach that up or try to add that to the attack here.”
A: Some of these questions, I’ll be more prepared to answer after I’ve studied the tape a little bit more. I’m a big believer in the screen game and I don’t know anything about the issues [with pass protection.] But I’m a big believer in the screen game. 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. As far as the pass protection,
until I take a look at the tape and study that a little bit more, I’m just not able to say at this point in time.
Q: Who were your coaching influences?
A: Definitely, if you look around, there are a lot of guys that are the sons of coaches and I’m one of those guys. My father was a high school and a college coach. I grew up a football junky. I wanted to be a coach because I wanted to be like my Dad. Then after getting on the move and moving around the country as a college coach I had the good fortune of working for Vic Rowen at San Francisco State and it was a three man staff. Vic Rowen, myself and Andy Reid. Andy and I coach together at three different schools – San Francisco State, UTEP and Missouri. I’ve been around Andy. I went to Boston College. I was hired by Tom Coughlin and then retained by Dan Henning. I learned a lot of football from Dan Henning. Dan had won two Super Bowls as the offensive coordinator under coach [Joe] Gibbs with the Redskins. I learned a lot of football from Dan, who was a very successful coach in the NFL. Also, in the college ranks [I was with] Mike Bellotti at Oregon. Mike certainly did a lot of things that were a little bit ahead of his time. He did a lot of offensive things. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been a play-caller for like 25 years. I’ve been able to experiment and do a lot of things and come up with things that I like to do. Now, after five years in the NFL and working with some great coaches and great players, I think I’ve learned a lot. I’ve been able to study all of the best coaches in the NFL over the last five years. I feel like I’m prepared for this job and I’m looking forward to it.
Q: How much credit do we give you for establishing the winning foundation at Boise
A: (Laughs) That’s up to you, how much credit you give me. But, we got that Boise State thing going. I was the head coach there for three years and had an awesome staff. When I left, Dan Hawkins took it. Dan had been on my staff. Chris Peterson and I were together at Oregon. Chris took it from Hawk and I’m very, very proud of what Boise State has accomplished over the last 12 years. I’m proud of the role I played in it. But Coach Hawk and Coach Pete have definitely taken it higher and higher. Coach Pete is doing a tremendous job there now.
Q: Where did your dad coach?
A: My Dad was a high school coach at Pocatello, Idaho and later was the head coach at Idaho State.
Q: At Jacksonville you had some uncertainty at the quarterback position for the last couple of years. What’s it like from your perspective, coming into a situation where you have an established front-line quarterback and you know what he can do?
A: This is a quarterback-driven league right now. So much is put on the quarterbacks each week, not only throwing the ball, but getting you out of bad plays, avoiding turnovers. Matt has proven over his first four years that he belongs in the upper echelon of quarterbacks in the league. It’s a great opportunity for me to come in there and work with Matt. I think the teams in the league, and there are several, that don’t have what they consider to be an elite quarterback are always trying to get one. Teams that do have one are glad that they have one and are trying to build around them. The Falcons have done a nice job of building around Matt. I’m looking forward to getting in there and working with those guys.
Q: Did you speak to Matt before or after you were hired?
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog