FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter chatted with the media after the morning practice on Wednesday.
He also sat down with columnist Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. CLICK HERE for his piece.
He talked about the offense, Tony Gonzalez, Julio Jones, Jacquizz Rogers and how he and Matt Ryan discussed the changes to the attack.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
Q: How are the guys picking up the offense?
A: The guys are doing great. They study hard. We have an excellent coaching staff that does a great job in the meeting room of teaching these guys. These guys are really able to take it from the class room onto the field. Because coach [Mike] Nolan has been giving us a bunch of tough looks defensively — a lot of the problems that you’re going to face during the season our defense has been showing us those problems. That’s great when you see it in practice, so now you’re not seeing it for the first time live.
Q: How do you approach the goal-line offense?
A: Coach [Mike] Smith does a great job of exposing our team in these OTAs and minicamps to all of the situations that are going to come up during the season. Goal line is one of those situations. You just saw us do it out there. Short-yardage is a situation. Part of that comes down to your game plan that week because not all teams play the same kind of goal-line defenses. We’ve exposed our guys to those situations and this part of the year, we’ll continue to work through it in preseason and training camp.
Q: Have you been in touch with Tony Gonzalez?
A: Tony does most of his communications through coach [Chris] Scelfo, the tight ends coach, and Coach Smith. They have that contact with him. I can’t wait to be around him and spend more time with him. Tony is proven and knows what he needs to do. Unfortunately, he’s not here right because of his family situation.
Q: Is there any concern about Mike Turner not hitting the hole fast enough in those short yardage situation?
A: Mike has been a very consistent player since he’s been here. [He’s had] back-to-back 1,300-yard seasons. We need to keep Mike healthy so that he’s as good at the end of the season as he is in the front of the season. The way this roster has been built, we have some other backs that are very capable. We have good competition in the backfield. I like our backfield situation. Mike Turner is at the head of the class. But, you know, we’re going to need all of those guys.
Q: How quick will it take Tony Gonzalez to get caught up and worked into the operation?
A: It will be no problem at all. Tony is one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the game. We are not re-inventing football out here. Everything we are doing, Tony has done before. There’s a few new little wrinkles, here and there. Coach Scelfo has been in contact with him. Tony was out for a couple days during OTAs. He’s seen it all and done it all. We don’t need to be worried about that. He’ll be fine.
Q: How much of a meeting of the minds was required between you and quarterback Matt Ryan?
A: Matt and I have spent a lot of time [together], when it became legal. We spent a lot of time watching tapes together. That is one of the good things I like most about Matt. Matt will look you in the eye and tell you how he sees it and how he thinks, and not B.S. you. By the same token, I can tell him what I think, what I see and what the coaching staff sees. He takes coaching well, but he also gives good feedback. You can’t ask for better than that. I feel like Matt and I are going to be on the same page, will be on the same page and are on the same page.
Q: How will having an offseason help Julio Jones and Jacquizz Rodgers?
A: For rookies all across the league that had to play last year. … that was an unbelievable stress on those guys. For those guys to do what they did was impressive. So, obviously, having OTAs, minicamp and being able to be coached by the position coaches, you can see it in those guys performance out here as Julio and Jacquizz are two of the more explosive players.
Q: Who has more screens in the playbook, you or your buddy [Philadelphia head coach] Andy Reid?
A: (Laughs) I don’t know. We come from the same school, so we probably have a lot of the same ones. The Eagles are definitely a good screen team and we’d like to be a good screen team here, too.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog