Falcons’ next offensive coordinator: Jaguars’ Koetter (really?)

Dirk Koetter has spent the past five seasons as Jacksonville's offensive coordinator. (AP photo)

Dirk Koetter has spent the past five seasons as Jacksonville's offensive coordinator. (AP photo)

I’ve long made it a practice to not pre-judge coaches. We’ve seen enough examples of guys who can win the press conference but lose on the field, and vice versa.

That said, the Falcons’ hiring of Dirk Koetter as offensive coordinator isn’t going to spark any block parties.

Koetter has been working for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who this season finished 32nd in total offense, 32nd in passing and 28th in scoring – which wouldn’t be so bad if the NFL had, say, 100 teams and not 32. The assumption in Flowery Branch must be that there’s only so much a coach can do with Blaine Gabbert.

Koetter has been a known candidate from the outset. The news of his hiring leaked out Sunday morning and later was confirmed by the Falcons, although Koetter said he was under instruction from the team not to comment.

The second sentence of Koetter’s bio in the Jacksonville media guide begins, “Known for his expertise of the passing offense …” In his first season as Jacksonville’s offensive coordinator in 2007, the Jaguars finished seventh in total offense, 17th in passing and sixth in scoring. That also was Mike Smith’s last season in Jacksonville, before he was hired as Falcons’ head coach.

But this is what has happened to the Jaguars’ offense since:

2008: 20th total offense (15th passing), 24th scoring.

2009: 18th total offense  (19th passing), 24th scoring.

2010: 15th total offense  (27th passing), 18th scoring.

2011: 32nd total offense (32nd passing), 28th scoring.

The Jaguars have had some obvious personnel deficiencies. The organization was a mess and head coach Jack Del Rio clearly had lost his effectiveness. But it’s safe to conclude Koetter was not viewed as anybody’s “hot” candidate.

Two factors may have played into this hiring: 1) Smith wanted somebody he is comfortable with, and in this case that’s somebody he has worked with; 2) The Falcons’ third straight immediate playoff exit has, for the first time, put some heat on Smith, and that perceived uncertainty sometimes affects a team’s ability to hire a high-profile candidate.

That said, Koetter had a solid offensive reputation when he was Arizona State’s head coach, and was viewed by some as one of the rising coaches early on at Jacksonville. As recently as July, an NFL.com blog on Koetter included this: “The Jaguars’ offensive coordinator is on the cusp of taking that next step [in coaching]. If he can continue to get what he has gotten out of Jacksonville’s offense without an abundance of talent, especially if he manages to get Blaine Gabbert ready to play despite this lockout, then a move up is imminent.”

It’s ironic that Koetter should come from the organization that just hired the Falcons’ recently maligned offensive coordinator, Mike Mularkey, as head coach. Mularkey might have been fired even if he had not gotten the Jacksonville job, given the predictability of the Falcons’ offense and the widely held belief that he did not fully utilize the weapons on the roster.

That’s on Koetter’s shoulders now. But it will be at least September before anybody is too excited.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter (@JeffSchultzAJC). Friend me on Facebook (Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC).

1,029 comments Add your comment

kerry

January 15th, 2012
11:55 am

what the hell………… first

kerry

January 15th, 2012
11:55 am

what the hell………… first

Jeff

January 15th, 2012
11:56 am

TexasFalcon

January 15th, 2012
11:56 am

Hold on to your comments. Let’s not forget that Maurice Jones Drew just lead the league in rushing. Also this is a safe hire for Mike Smith he knows him. He still has to control the entire system and this hire along with the Defensive Coordinator will either make or break his coaching life in Atlanta.

Smarty

January 15th, 2012
11:56 am

Boo!!! Com’n Man!

seminoles

January 15th, 2012
11:56 am

JoeC

January 15th, 2012
11:56 am

First from NC.?
Go ‘Noles!!

Falcon1364

January 15th, 2012
11:57 am

old timer

January 15th, 2012
11:57 am

Are you freakin kidding me. There goes the 2012 season.

kerry norwood

January 15th, 2012
11:58 am

this is all mike smith why u keep bring people in for your former team (stop it mike ditka)

Waldo

January 15th, 2012
11:58 am

scott

January 15th, 2012
11:58 am

Wow…they really do want to win a Super Bowl. Oh wait, that’s the 49ers…sorry.

Carl Harris

January 15th, 2012
11:58 am

Let’s be real. The Falcons have been mediocre since 1966. I watched the first game when Dennis Claridge was the QB[he played at Nebraska]. If Alabama had Julio back, I doubt the Falcons could have beaten them. They have always been pathetic and always will. Ryan is not the answer at QB..and Turner has seen his better day. Their D is awful…the O line is terrible..other than that they are still awful.

patriots75

January 15th, 2012
11:59 am

This is a little to much good old boys for me, i have been a supporter all my life and remember the first game and as of today,i am finished with this team,no longer is this about the Smith family,we are going in the wrong direction so i have to say good bye falcants!!!

Falcon1364

January 15th, 2012
12:00 pm

Don’t know about this hire ! Not to thrilled. They should have waited on someone from Green Bay or another pass first team !

Riley

January 15th, 2012
12:00 pm

We now know this is Mike Smith’s time to go. He is the one with this boring “old school” philosophy. It’s him.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

January 15th, 2012
12:00 pm

jury is still out- let’s remember what he had for offensive personnel in J’ville. Perhpas with better weapons in ATL, he can do a lot better now.

Frontman

January 15th, 2012
12:01 pm

TexasFalcon,
Smitty has no more “safe” hires. I think Mr. Blank made it pretty clear that marking time was not good enough. Bringing in Smitty’s buddies because he used to coach with them is no way to be an elite team. That being said, I hope I’m wrong and I am willing to give the guy a chance. But, if you simply run MM’s offense next year, I will howl at the moon.

DogTheMan

January 15th, 2012
12:01 pm

I am not surprised. He is a run first, ball control type coach. That would be all well and good if we had an offensive line that could actually do that. We can’t get fourth and inches. We need a new running and some new lineman and a QB not with an arm that is not a BB gun… Oh Well!!!

Frontman

January 15th, 2012
12:02 pm

Anybody want to take odds on Del Rio being DC now?

rush2112

January 15th, 2012
12:03 pm

WOW! What a “losing” decision…..basically we swapped losing coaches for losing coaches. Mr. Blank I hope you feel good about it, we’ll have to see how it plays out, but look at the results he’s delivered in Jax not exactly what i would call “gotta have results”. 3 more years down the drain and then start all over again. Mike Smith hiring an out of work buddy……NICE JOB!

biz

January 15th, 2012
12:03 pm

Not an inspiring pick to say the least.

HGN

January 15th, 2012
12:04 pm

Unbelievable. I just can’t believe Smith and TD are going to stake their jobs and reputation on this guy……Why?

Outside Observer

January 15th, 2012
12:04 pm

There was not a lot of support when Mike Smith was hired, but that proved to be a success. Give it some time. Don’t overreact because the guy doesn’t have a big name.

ground_fog

January 15th, 2012
12:04 pm

Does anyone know who was ranked 31st in total offense with the Niners but was hired as head coach at another team? that would be Mike Mccarthy of the Packers.

SirReal

January 15th, 2012
12:05 pm

Think Smith might be in for his first losing season. Brace yourselves ATL. I think we may have just become third in our division…Why dont we just call up Del Rio, change our colors and logo, and for that matter lets just change the name of the city too. This was vanilla ball Smitty’s guy the whole time. Guess we’ll be getting another LB coach from JAX to run the D too huh? GARBAGE!!!lol

DHD

January 15th, 2012
12:05 pm

He must have something on Smith.

Gene

January 15th, 2012
12:05 pm

Initial disappointment but if u don’t have the right pieces, the offense still won’t be as good. No matter if the coach is an offensive guru or not! We will just have to wait and see who we draft and who we sign and or let go.

ground_fog

January 15th, 2012
12:05 pm

This was the best we could get. Smith is on the hot seat. Koetter was taking a chance to come here..so i’ll give him a chance

K-Baby

January 15th, 2012
12:06 pm

So the Falcons and Jaguars essentially swapped offensive coordinators. The “process” has stalled at best and is a failure at worst.

Thoroughly disappointed.

Hawks4Eva

January 15th, 2012
12:06 pm

This Falcons staff (Thomas Dimitroff, Mike Smith and Arthur Blank) reminds me of scene in the Lucy Ball show and the candy factory episode. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnbNcQlzV-4.

They simply cannot catch up. They appear to be totally unqualified when you compare to their playoff track record in comparison to 1st year coaches (both Harbaughs one their first playoff games).

Jim beating the Saints last night against the vaunted Saints! Smith just don’t seem to get it.

ueeediot

January 15th, 2012
12:06 pm

You have got to be kidding me.

Ben

January 15th, 2012
12:07 pm

What on earth are they thinking??? Awful awful hire.

Couldn’t they have at least done us a favor and hired Mike Bobo???

Dimitroff just sealed his own fate.

sheepdawg

January 15th, 2012
12:07 pm

bs, blank has given up

Falcons4Eva

January 15th, 2012
12:07 pm

This is the NEW NFL – Offenses Passing RULES! This team, especially Smith and Dimitroff are showing themselves to be very inept and overmatched. (See the Harbaughs (both of them)

Especially the 49ers. See Sean Payton. See Detroit, the Packers etc. This future does NOT look bright. With this hiring of Dirk Koetter.

ground_fog

January 15th, 2012
12:07 pm

Nick Saban thought he was good enough to interview. what does that tell you?

Sam

January 15th, 2012
12:07 pm

What the h&$l!b! The falcons are forever losers. The same old vanilla offense as mularky

rivercard

January 15th, 2012
12:07 pm

Jeff, thanks for pointing this out. Pretty damning facts.How can they possibly spin this horrific hire?
Did they even look anywhere else? Doubtful. Everyone knew they would do the comfortable thing, because they obviously prefer the safety of comfort over possibly shaking things up in the hopes of improving.
This unimaginative and uninspired pick really does reflect this team and it’s administration. I am starting to believe that Marcus was the part of the Home depot equation with b*lls.

Falcons4Eva

January 15th, 2012
12:07 pm

Watch out for the 3 stooges (Dimitroff, Blank and Smith) try and spin this as some great, earth shaking hire. Dirk Koetter ran the offense that was the worst in the league.

There is no spinning that. Don’t talk to me about what he (Koetter) did at Boise Stat 3 years ago. As we say in the south…That Dog Won’t Hunt Doo-Doo.

Nick Saban

January 15th, 2012
12:07 pm

Are you serious!!!!!! I want to come back to the pros. Mr.Blank, my staff here is Tuscaloosa will kill Mike Smith and he staff. You guys aren’t serious about winning a championship. Tell me what is the diiference between Mike Smith-Matt Ryan, Jim Harbaugh-Alex Smith, John Harbaugh-Joe Flacco, John Fox-Tim Tebow, Gary Kubiak-T.J. Yates? If you don’t know I’ll tell you Mike Smith-Matt-Ryan have yet to lead this city to a layoff when. I and A.J. McCarron would have at least won a playoff game in the four years those idiots have been there in Atlanta. Mr. Blank you know how to contact me. I will be waiting for your call.

ground_fog

January 15th, 2012
12:08 pm

If we don’t get Spags though i’ll be really pissed

Falcons4Eva

January 15th, 2012
12:08 pm

The hiring of Dirk Koetter officially puts Smith on the hot seat. Smith has 2 years at best.

Next year we most likely will miss the playoffs. (2012 Playoffs: Division champs: Philly, 49ers, Saints, Packers. Wild Card: Lions and Giants). Falcons finish 8-8.

2013 Playoffs: Cowboys, 49ers, Saints, Lions. Wild Card: Packers and (Panthers or Eagles). Smith will be fired

End of story. Just my take.

Buckeye

January 15th, 2012
12:09 pm

Now there’s a “name brand” hire.

ROZEMAN13

January 15th, 2012
12:09 pm

Just dont understand this move at all. This is not going to excite the fan base.

Scott Anderson

January 15th, 2012
12:09 pm

I have been a Falcons fan since the early 60 s and have stuck it out.

This hiring is just a masking for Smith to not bring anyone in that could threaten his job if things go sour next year. Come on step up and bring in a ex head coach for the defense.

The worst coach Falcons ever had was Dan Reeves and Marion Campbell.

Smith could drop like a rock next year when the Falcons stub toes.

Why cant that running back from the draft be like Sproeles for NO ? what a differance that guy makes for that team.

Blank's Brain

January 15th, 2012
12:09 pm

All of you idiots prejudging the hire can go back to flipping the burgers.
Jacksonville isn’t exactly loaded with talent on offense.
I’ll wait and see what and not prejudge. His college stats are impressive
and if Atlanta can get a couple of Free Agent OL’s I think you will see
a good deal of improvement and play calling here.
But fools rush in so relax ladies. Lets not jump off the energy bus yet.

5150 UOAD

January 15th, 2012
12:10 pm

We SWAP our Crap for Jax Crap! WTF is this about? Wow Saban at Bama wanted him so the Falcons must have done a Great thing! Hahahahaha. This didn’t help anything IMO.

falcon

January 15th, 2012
12:10 pm

Put me in the not impressed column.

Chris the C Dog

January 15th, 2012
12:11 pm

My parents always said “If you want to catch a cold, hang around someone with the flu!” Why would you hang around ANYONE from the Jacksonville franchise? You can’t catch a sneeze from them!What have they done to warrant this respect? This is just another blown opportunity to elevate this dismall franchise. This is why I let my season tickets go. NEVER gonna be more than they are right now. They are who we thought they were!

NOTSo FAst

January 15th, 2012
12:11 pm

This move will not sell many tickets. After watching NO and SF play. we know that to win we have to control the ball and score a lot of points. Nothing that I read shows that he can do that.