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With new hires, Quinn says Falcons’ offense will ‘blend’ to achieve balance

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https://theathletic.com/760480/2019/01/10/with-new-hires-quinn-says-falcons-offense-will-blend-to-achieve-balance/

It’s not like Dirk Koetter is walking into an unfamiliar position. Having been with the Falcons just five years ago, he previously worked with some players still with the organization. The obvious example is quarterback Matt Ryan, who saw his career blossom under Koetter’s guidance. Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, Jake Matthews and Ryan Schraeder also were on the roster then. 

The hope, when it comes to welcoming Koetter back to the team, is that Atlanta’s offense can hit the ground running without any type of learning curve. With each of the past two offensive coordinators, this learning curve existed. It took some time for the offense to jell with Kyle Shanahan in 2015. Steve Sarkisian underwent an adjustment period with his personnel in 2017. 

Having coached some of these players before, Koetter, who was Atlanta’s offensive coordinator from 2012-14, shouldn’t have those growing points. That’s the goal at least. 

“I can speak from my own personal experience of a player you may have coached at one spot and then you revisited with them again,” Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said. “You can definitely get up to speed more quickly.”

Quinn spoke with local reporters on a conference call Thursday to discuss his new hirings. He also hit on a few other topics in what was roughly a 25-minute media session. 

Finding the right kind of balance

Considering how the past couple of seasons went, it seemed slightly odd for Quinn to tab Koetter as his next offensive coordinator. Koetter’s Tampa Bay teams threw the ball a bunch while running it less than 40 percent of the time throughout the past two years. But digging a little deeper into Koetter’s history shows he has run the ball effectively, especially when he was Jacksonville’s offensive coordinator. 

  • In 2007, Fred Taylor totaled 1,202 rushing yards and five touchdowns with Maurice Jones-Drew running for 768 yards and nine scores. 
  • In 2009, Jones-Drew ran for 1,391 yards and 15 touchdowns and followed up that season with 1,324 yards and five scores in 2010. 
  • In 2011, Jones-Drew posted a career-best 1,606 yards, while punching in eight touchdowns. He did so on 343 carries. 

Coaches don’t typically like making comparisons, but it is worth noting that Jones-Drew and Freeman are built similarly. Both are shorter backs ranging from 205 to 210 pounds. 

“I understand the comparison, but really it will be the way we can feature (Freeman) in different ways,” Quinn said. “Although the players’ production can be similar, how they’re featured can be done differently. The running game, for us, with (Freeman) and how we attack, is really important. We’re going to make sure we can feature those guys in the best ways.”

Quinn did note that Jones-Drew, like Freeman, was exceptional at running inside zone plays. With Koetter getting to work with a veteran Freeman, as opposed to the rookie he was in 2014, it will be interesting to see how Freeman is incorporated into the scheme. 

Ultimately, Quinn wants to see better balance primarily on first and second downs. A quick look at the numbers suggests first down primarily served as a passing down for Atlanta in 2018. The Falcons ran 467 plays on first down, with 62.5 percent of those being passes. On second down, Atlanta passed the ball 59.1 percent of the time. 

Quinn said he would like for his offense to be a little more unpredictable. 

“That’s where we’ve had extensive conversations about how we intend to attack,” Quinn said. “In those moments, in what we call regular downs, that’s where it starts. How do you utilize those in openers? And how do you utilize those in different moments of the game? That’s all by game plan, but that’s where you try to have more of your balance.”

The offensive ‘blend’

With Koetter and new tight ends coach Mike Mularkey joining the coaching staff, Quinn said the 2019 offense will be a “blend” of what has worked for everyone in the past. The inside and outside zone runs still will be a key part of the offense. Mularkey and offensive line coach Chris Morgan will work in tandem to help improve the run game. While Morgan can continue teaching the zone blocking Atlanta has used the past four years, Mularkey has vast experience running power plays. Koetter obviously has a vertical passing game background. 

At its core, Quinn said the philosophy will resemble previous Atlanta offenses. At the same time, there will be some wrinkles added in. 

“A number of the concepts that Dirk runs and that we run are already in sync with that,” Quinn said. “We will keep the passing game here that we have, and Dirk will add tweaks to that. As far as the run game goes, I’d say Mike is really equipped in a lot of ways, with inside and outside zone being one of those. 

“We’ll establish our identity loud and clear with Chris and with Mike in the run game, as well. The play-(action) pass in the run game will be a big part of what we do continually.”

The in-game and clock management assistant

Quinn revealed Thursday that Kyle Flood, previously the assistant offensive line coach, will become a senior assistant responsible for program development, in-game decisions and clock management. This will also involve ensuring replays are reviewed timely so Quinn can throw the challenge flag. This has become a new trend in the NFL, with the Los Angeles Rams employing Jedd Fisch to perform a similar role. 

Other assistant moves

Quinn announced that Bernie Parmalee, who coached running backs, will now be an assistant special teams coach. Dave Brock, who was assisting in coaching wide receivers, will now coach the running backs. Raheem Morris, who holds titles of assistant head coach, passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach, will remain in his position. Before taking this role in Atlanta, Morris spent most of his career coaching on the defensive side of the ball. 

In addition, sources told The Athletic that the Falcons parted ways with defensive assistant/defensive backs coach Charlie Jackson and football research and development staffer Todd Nielson. Jackson assisted defensive backs coach Doug Mallory, and Nielson’s work revolved in analytics.

 

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Great, we are keeping the WCO. Once again our OC is not using his playbook.  Should have hired Bevell if this was the plan

 

A number of the concepts that Dirk runs and that we run are already in sync with that,” Quinn said. “We will keep the passing game here that we have, and Dirk will add tweaks to that. As far as the run game goes, I’d say Mike is really equipped in a lot of ways, with inside and outside zone being one of those. 

Edited by Falconsin2012
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Sounds good, best of both worlds. Mularky knows how to run the ball but can't coordinate a pass game worth a lick. Koetter can have a really good passing game, but his running attacks are generally terrible. It sounds like Shannihanigans kept some of Koetter's plays in his offense. Hope Koetter can get Julio involved in the red-zone offense again.

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Ahmmm... that sounds great and all but doesn't make much sense to me. Vertical passing game that mixes inside and outside zones with a power run game... that requires like three different offensive lines! 

egoprime II likes this

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Great, just have the OLine coach figure out our running plays, except when our TE coach does, and our OC can call our vertical routes while who knows who does the horizontal stuff. And once more, our OC isn't running his offense, he's running Sark's who was running Kyle's.

This sounds horrible. This is either going to be the weirdest, best offense in league history or Frankenstein's offense without his brain attached to his limbs correctly.

It probably won't be as bad as this article makes it sound, but I'm getting flashbacks of Nolan's "Multiple" defense that had our DT's dropping back into deep zones.

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4 minutes ago, Falconsin2012 said:

Great, we are keeping the WCO. Once again our OC is not using his playbook.  Should have hired Bevell if this was the plan

This isn't how schemes work, dude. Not one lick of what was said mentions Koetter using the previous playbook. A lot of plays we ran this year were from Koetter actually. Ryan already said that in the off-season - he took what he liked best and Sark integrated it. 

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5 minutes ago, osiruz said:

Sounds good, best of both worlds. Mularky knows how to run the ball but can't coordinate a pass game worth a lick. Koetter can have a really good passing game, but his running attacks are generally terrible. It sounds like Shannihanigans kept some of Koetter's plays in his offense. Hope Koetter can get Julio involved in the red-zone offense again.

Last season Matt said the playbook is a blend of stuff that Mularky, Koetter and Shanahan ran.

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Just now, Francis York Morgan said:

This isn't how schemes work, dude. Not one lick of what was said mentions Koetter using the previous playbook. A lot of plays we ran this year were from Koetter actually. Ryan already said that in the off-season - he took what he liked best and Sark integrated it. 

Yeah, every offense runs different pieces of different schemes. No one runs a pure WCO anymore.

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6 minutes ago, Francis York Morgan said:

This isn't how schemes work, dude. Not one lick of what was said mentions Koetter using the previous playbook. A lot of plays we ran this year were from Koetter actually. Ryan already said that in the off-season - he took what he liked best and Sark integrated it. 

All playbooks evolve and are a blend of different schemes  But the direct quote is the passing and running game will be the same.  Does not sound like a transition to 4 Verts...I could be wrong though.

Quinn said Dirk will tweak our current passing game

A number of the concepts that Dirk runs and that we run are already in sync with that,” Quinn said. “We will keep the passing game here that we have, and Dirk will add tweaks to that. As far as the run game goes, I’d say Mike is really equipped in a lot of ways, with inside and outside zone being one of those. 

Edited by Falconsin2012

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7 minutes ago, ramonezy said:

Ahmmm... that sounds great and all but doesn't make much sense to me. Vertical passing game that mixes inside and outside zones with a power run game... that requires like three different offensive lines! 

Really doesn't...every team in the NFL runs zone plays. We were primarily an outside zone team this last year. Koetter has run inside and outside zone for most of his career. Power run doesn't mean no zone blocking, you might be thinking of a man blocking OL. Does sound like the line is gonna beef up though.

5 minutes ago, Lornoth said:

Great, just have the OLine coach figure out our running plays, except when our TE coach does, and our OC can call our vertical routes while who knows who does the horizontal stuff. And once more, our OC isn't running his offense, he's running Sark's who was running Kyle's.

This sounds horrible. This is either going to be the weirdest, best offense in league history or Frankenstein's offense without his brain attached to his limbs correctly.

You're smarter than this man. I wasn't a fan of the Koetter hire at first, but none of what was said suggests anyone besides Koetter is calling plays. Mularkey and Morgan are just collaborating on the run game, which is a very good thing when it comes to its execution - something that's been a problem lately.

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2 minutes ago, Francis York Morgan said:

Really doesn't...every team in the NFL runs zone plays. We were primarily an outside zone team this last year. Koetter has run inside and outside zone for most of his career. Power run doesn't mean no zone blocking, you might be thinking of a man blocking OL. Does sound like the line is gonna beef up though.

You're smarter than this man. I wasn't a fan of the Koetter hire at first, but none of what was said suggests anyone besides Koetter is calling plays. Mularkey and Morgan are just collaborating on the run game, which is a very good thing when it comes to its execution - something that's been a problem lately.

Of course he's calling plays, just not for the schemes he prefers. If we wanted to largely keep the same offense we had last year we should have kept our OC from last year and hired someone to add 'wrinkles'. Not overhaul our staff but tell them we want them to do what we did before.

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Just now, Lornoth said:

Of course he's calling plays, just not for the schemes he prefers. If we wanted to largely keep the same offense we had last year we should have kept our OC from last year and hired someone to add 'wrinkles'. Not overhaul our staff but tell them we want them to do what we did before.

I think people here are too attached to the idea of a "scheme." A large percentage of plays we called last year were ones Koetter and Mularkey ran that Matt liked. If you Google some of those keywords you should find articles from the last couple off-seasons showing that.

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2 minutes ago, Francis York Morgan said:

I think people here are too attached to the idea of a "scheme." A large percentage of plays we called last year were ones Koetter and Mularkey ran that Matt liked. If you Google some of those keywords you should find articles from the last couple off-seasons showing that.

There aren't that many different plays in the NFL. Every team runs largely the same plays. That's not what scheme is. 

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1 minute ago, Francis York Morgan said:

I think people here are too attached to the idea of a "scheme." A large percentage of plays we called last year were ones Koetter and Mularkey ran that Matt liked. If you Google some of those keywords you should find articles from the last couple off-seasons showing that.

"Playbook" is just as problematic. 

This isnt Tecmo Bowl. Its not like Up + B means one set thing and Down + A means another. 

The biggest hurdle for "mixed schemes" is terminology. Given that the QB has significant experience with all terminology and will likely be instrumental in the installation of the offense, I'm not too concerned. 

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6 minutes ago, DoYouSeeWhatHappensLarry said:

"Playbook" is just as problematic. 

This isnt Tecmo Bowl. Its not like Up + B means one set thing and Down + A means another. 

The biggest hurdle for "mixed schemes" is terminology. Given that the QB has significant experience with all terminology and will likely be instrumental in the installation of the offense, I'm not too concerned. 

Especially since if anything, Koetter is known for simplifying the terminology with plays. 

8 minutes ago, Lornoth said:

There aren't that many different plays in the NFL. Every team runs largely the same plays. That's not what scheme is. 

Scheme is a bunch of buzzwords as far as I'm concerned. When KC's offense is still being called a west coast offense despite bearing almost no resemblance to one in terms of philosophy, it's a buzzword. Shanny's offense was barely a west coast offense either. If anything, I'd have called it a misdirection offense.

You're acting like Koetter is being asked to call plays using Shanny's "playbook," whatever that means. 

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5 minutes ago, DoYouSeeWhatHappensLarry said:

"Playbook" is just as problematic. 

This isnt Tecmo Bowl. Its not like Up + B means one set thing and Down + A means another. 

The biggest hurdle for "mixed schemes" is terminology. Given that the QB has significant experience with all terminology and will likely be instrumental in the installation of the offense, I'm not too concerned. 

Why not just let Koetter call his own offense?

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Just now, Francis York Morgan said:

Especially since if anything, Koetter is known for simplifying the terminology with plays. 

Scheme is a bunch of buzzwords as far as I'm concerned. When KC's offense is still being called a west coast offense despite bearing almost no resemblance to one in terms of philosophy, it's a buzzword. Shanny's offense was barely a west coast offense either.

You're acting like Koetter is being asked to call plays using Shanny's "playbook," whatever that means. 

The bold is very much something a certain portion of this board believed. 

Its craziness. 

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6 minutes ago, Francis York Morgan said:

Especially since if anything, Koetter is known for simplifying the terminology with plays. 

Scheme is a bunch of buzzwords as far as I'm concerned. When KC's offense is still being called a west coast offense despite bearing almost no resemblance to one in terms of philosophy, it's a buzzword. Shanny's offense was barely a west coast offense either.

You're acting like Koetter is being asked to call plays using Shanny's "playbook," whatever that means. 

There is no individual playbooks, all plays are available to every team. The problem is Koetter does not run an offense the same way Sark or Kyle did, but the way this article is worded, it sounds like we're trying to make him change what he usually does. You don't change the OC to match the scheme, that doesn't work. If DK likes to run inside zones/power and stretch the field vertically more than horizontally, then we should let him do that, not try to split up the offense into five different people for the sake of staying the same with our outside zones, or being 'blended.' Do what you do well, don't try to do everything.

If we wanted Koetter we should let him do what he does, not try to stay the same while blending him in.

Falconsin2012 and falconfreak1 like this

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Just now, Falconsin2012 said:

Why not just let Koetter call his own offense?

Well, we don't KNOW exactly how the interplay is going to work. We're all working off of snippets from interviews/press conferences. Not exactly gameplan sessions, ya know? 

But generally, I think the idea would be takings steps to closely match your philosophy as a play caller to your available talent and their preferences. This is what the best offenses in the league have done for years. 

its not like DK is going to be on the sideline with 100 "DK Plays" 100 "Mularkey Plays" and "100 Shanahan Plays" and just randomly pulling things out of a hat. 

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2 minutes ago, DoYouSeeWhatHappensLarry said:

The bold is very much something a certain portion of this board believed. 

Its craziness. 

Nothing Quinn said says we will transition to 4 Verts.  Just the opposite

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3 minutes ago, DoYouSeeWhatHappensLarry said:

Well, we don't KNOW exactly how the interplay is going to work. We're all working off of snippets from interviews/press conferences. Not exactly gameplan sessions, ya know? 

But generally, I think the idea would be takings steps to closely match your philosophy as a play caller to your available talent and their preferences. This is what the best offenses in the league have done for years. 

its not like DK is going to be on the sideline with 100 "DK Plays" 100 "Mularkey Plays" and "100 Shanahan Plays" and just randomly pulling things out of a hat. 

Forget whose plays they are.  We run a WCO.  Quinn just said running game & passing game won’t change.  So Koetter will now run a WCO with minor tweaks

Edited by Falconsin2012

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Just now, Falconsin2012 said:

Nothing Quinn said says we will transition to 4 Verts.  Just the opposite

Again, you guys are talking about this in far too concrete a fashion. And that was a problem when people were talking about Sarkisian too. This notion that "Sark is using Kyle's playbook! I read it that one time!" 

This isnt English to Spanish or a proposal to go with Spanglish. 

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