FLOWERY BRANCH –Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said the offense is search of that perfect game.
He knows achieving that goal will be difficult against a talented Eagles’ defense that will be playing its first game under new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles when the Falcons face the Eagles at 1 p.m. Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Here are some excerpts from Koetter’s weekly media session.
Q: What were you all able to ascertain from your bye-week self scout?
A: When you’ve got a week to study yourself, you can spin those numbers and spin those plays a lot of different ways. I would choose to keep some of those findings to myself, but we want to run the ball better, we want to pass it better and we want to score more points. We definitely have not played our best football on offense yet. We studied ourselves across the board in every situation. We need to get better across the board and I’m confident that they guys will try to do that.
Q: What does Coach Smith mean when he says he wants to be a scoring offense?
A: It’s just human nature. The runners want to run more. The passers want to pass more. The catchers want to catch more. That’s how it is on every team. We’re always in search of the perfect game and we haven’t found it yet.
Q: Do you attack the Philadelphia cornerbacks?
A: They definitely have two outstanding corners. Unless they are going to play three corners, they can’t put a corner on all three of our guys. Matchups are one of the key parts of this game. Every game has some plus and minus matchups for both sides. They have two awesome corners and they’ve been matching them on wideouts. I haven’t seen them matching them on tight ends this year, but anything is possible.
Q: Can you define the ‘Wide Tackle Nine’ defense for the fans?
A: Well, Coach (Jim) Washburn, we played against him when I was at Jacksonville and he was at Tennessee. The wide nine is a defensive end playing outside of your tight end alignment. Conventional defensive ends play the inside eye or head up, face to face with your tight end. They play their defensive ends outside of your tight end and they violently crash down through the outside eye of the tight end and try to squeeze the offense and get up the field and pressure the quarterback. They are very good at it.
Q: How important will the battle on third down be in order to sustain drives.
A: Real important. They are one of the best teams at stopping an offense on third down. We’ve been one of the top five teams at converting third downs. Whoever wins that matchup and turnovers will be the keys to that game.
Q: What had Demeco Ryans added to that defense?
A: He sort of a quarterback to the defense. He’s actually their leading tackler right now. Very smart, instinctive players. Always seems to be in position. It’s hard to get him out of positions. They leave him on the field in (nickel) which is unusual that the middle linebacker stays on in nickel situations. That shows how much they think of his ability. This guys is a top flight middle linebacker in the league.
Q: How much has the defensive coordinator change affected your preparation?
A: That’s the million dollar question this week because you don’t really know the answer. All we can go with is what they have been doing so far. Obviously, there is going to be some kind of a change or they wouldn’t have changed coordinators. The talk seems to be is that they are going to become more of a pressure team. They have not been a big pressure team in terms of how many guys they rush. But they do put a lot of pressure on the quarterback with the four-man rush, as good as any team in the league. So, I guess if I was reading between the lines, I would say they are going to blitz more. We don’t know because even though Coach Bowles has done a lot in his career, he’s not called the defenses as a coordinator before that I know of. So we’re going to be learning about his tendencies for the first time and we’ll just have to adjust the best that we can.
Q: Jason Babin and Trent Cole’s numbers are down, but are they still playing at a high level?
A: Yes, they are. More than any team that we play, they are two deep on their d-line and they play their second unit more than most teams. They do a good job of keeping their guys fresh and their second unit is extremely talented as well. They’ve got a first-round draft pick in their second wave. They are comparable to a hockey line. They just roll the next group in there. They have four or five very capable defensive ends.
Q: How is Cullen Jenkins playing for them?
A: I don’t think he has a sack to date, but you just would not know it from watching the tape. He’s a very disruptive player. It’s going to be a big challenge for our offensive line and our entire offensive team to deal with that front.
Q: Where Matt Ryan’s interceptions against Oakland a result of pressure between the A and B gaps?
A: The three interceptions last week. Matt just didn’t read it correctly. We had two other guys open and we threw to wrong guy and the (Oakland) guy made a nice play. One of them, we misidentified it and they did blitz us through the A gap. We did plenty of blockers. We just blocked the wrong guys. They hit Matt right as he was throwing and the third interception on the deep ball was a bad call by me. I shouldn’t have had us in that play. It was three different causes for those interceptions. They may or may not blitz us more, but I don’t think it will be because of that.
Q: Do you all want to get Tony Gonzalez his 100th touchdown?
A: I would love to get it. We wanted to get it in the last game. We are working on it.
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