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Goober Pyle

Dirk Koetter: ‘We definitely need to run the ball better than we did last year’

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https://theathletic.com/1814404/2020/05/14/dirk-koetter-we-definitely-need-to-run-the-ball-better-than-we-did-last-year/

 

File this one in the "No Sh*t Sherlock" column....

 

 

Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter offered a blunt assessment of the Falcons’ ground game.

“We definitely need to run the ball better than we did last year,” he said.

Atlanta finished the 2019 season ranked 30th in the NFL with an average of 85.1 rushing yards per game. A couple of factors worked against the Falcons throughout the season. During the first eight games, Atlanta found itself trailing by two scores or more seven times. That forced the Falcons to abandon the run much earlier than they would have liked. And when Atlanta did try to run the ball, it couldn’t churn out the kind of yards per carry it needed to be a true threat. In Atlanta’s first eight games, it averaged only 68.5 rushing yards per outing, which ranked 29th. While that number did improve to 101.6 rushing yards per game during the final eight games, Atlanta still finished in the bottom half of the league in this category for the second consecutive season.

While the Falcons aren’t able to work with any players during what Koetter called “the most unique offseason in NFL history,” the overall objective will be to better establish a running game in 2020. An effective run game opens up the pass, particularly with play-action, which is when Atlanta feels its most dangerous on offense.

“Your run game sets up the play-action game,” Koetter said. “It never fails every year when you go back and look at the cut-ups, the play-action game is where the explosive plays come. I think 30 percent of our play-action were explosive plays. Your play-action is going to be better if you’re running it better. We have to run the football more efficiently. We just have to do a better job there. It takes all 11 guys. We have to coach it better; we have to execute it better.”

Changing up their personnel a bit, the Falcons parted ways with running back Devonta Freeman and brought in Todd Gurley, a two-time All-Pro running back who does have a lingering knee issue. Although he played in 15 of 16 games for the Los Angeles Rams in 2019, Gurley averaged 17 touches (14.9 rushes, 2.1 receptions) per game, which was a career low in a single season.

At the same time, 17 touches might be what the Falcons envision for Gurley. A year ago, Freeman averaged 17.3 touches (13.1 rushes, 4.2 receptions) per game. In the majority of head coach Dan Quinn’s seasons with Atlanta, he has favored a committee approach at running back. From 2015-18, Tevin Coleman shared time with Freeman. In 2019, Ito Smith was Freeman’s backup before a season-ending injury put Brian Hill in that role.

With Gurley replacing Freeman as Atlanta’s lead back, this philosophy is likely to remain. While the team will need to manage Gurley’s knee on a weekly basis, he wasn’t expected to get an average of more than 20 touches in a 16-game season. In addition, the Falcons are protected contractually if Gurley is unable to pass a physical once he is able to travel to the team facility.

“Todd is only 25 years old, and he’s had two seasons where he was arguably the best running back in football,” Koetter said. “You’re just talking about different degrees. When he’s at his best, he’s got speed, he’s got power, he can break tackles, he’s elusive, he can catch the ball out of the backfield. We’ve all seen what he can do. His accolades speak for themselves. We just have to see how healthy he is and how consistently he can do it. He can still do it, it’s just a matter of how often can he do it?”

Koetter added that he has a number of carries per game in mind for both Gurley and the rushing offense. He didn’t want to reveal that because, with at least a little jest, “(The media) will bring it up every week.”

Last season, the Falcons tied for 29th with an average of 22.6 rushes per game. With better execution and without having to play catch-up early in games, Koetter hopes he will be able to call more runs in 2020.

As it pertains to Gurley, Koetter said the Falcons and Rams are similar in philosophy and terminology, which should make Gurley’s addition seamless. If the team does keep Gurley around 17 touches per game — including 15 as a runner — that should open up some opportunities for the other backs, especially if the Falcons are truly committed to increasing its rushing volume.

“I’m a big believer that it’s not just about one person running all of the runs, of course,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “We’re a big mix-up team. We think that’s a very important part of making sure that we rotate our guys through there. They all come to the table with different positives and different traits, of course, and I would not — I’m a big believer in making sure that you have the mix.”

Behind Gurley, the Falcons either will opt for Smith or Hill to be the No. 2 back. Smith was the team’s No. 2 back a year ago until a neck injury ended his season after only seven games. Hill stepped in as Freeman’s backup after Smith’s injury and earned two starts. This preseason, Qadree Ollison, entering his second NFL season, also will get a shot at a rotational spot, as could undrafted free agent Mikey Daniel.

Both Smith and Hill averaged more than 4 yards per carry with Smith tying Freeman with a team-high long of 28 yards.

“To their credit, they want more. They want bigger roles,” Koetter said. “That’s what they should do is come in and compete for those bigger roles. Ito was playing well up until the time he got hurt. Like anything else, it’s a work in progress. When the guys get back we’ll figure it out.”

Quinn and Dimitroff felt confident enough in Smith and Hill to the point that they didn’t feel like they needed to take another running back in the draft.

“When you have a position like that and you’re just wanting those guys to go fight for it and you really believe in them like we do, you want to give them the benefit of the doubt,” Quinn said. “They’re pushing, they’re digging, they’re grinding for it, so you’re always looking like you do at every position. That’s part of the role. But we have a lot of belief in that group for sure.”

While Gurley’s touch count went down last season, Koetter pointed to games Gurley had against the Carolina Panthers and the Chicago Bears as ones that showed he still can play at an elite level in the NFL. And Koetter also pointed out that there is no way of knowing what all went into the Rams’ subpar season running the ball. As Gurley drew a lot of attention due to his decreased numbers, it wasn’t like his fellow running backs were succeeding much. Darrell Henderson (3.8 yards per carry) and Malcolm Brown (3.7) also struggled behind a Rams’ offensive line that was unable to generate much in the run game.

If Atlanta’s offensive line can offer improved blocking for Gurley, perhaps Gurley will return to the form he previously has displayed. But Koetter, like every other Falcons employee, will be forced to wait a while longer before getting the chance to see Gurley up close.

“We’ll find out his health after he gets here,” Koetter said. “He’s saying all the right things. I just talked to him the other day. I know he’s excited. I know the fans are excited, all the Georgia Bulldog fans are excited to get him here. We’ll just see. You can’t deny his talent and what he’s already done in this league. The question is his health and we’ll just have to see.”

 

 

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WOW no sheeeet.  :doh:  We need to have a running game.   I was saying that all last season.... Freeman was not cutting it.   How much we pay these geniuses to have hindsight?...too much!   I just pray this season is not a bunch of reruns.

I have had it with Falcon continuity.

 

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56 minutes ago, Goober Pyle said:

https://theathletic.com/1814404/2020/05/14/dirk-koetter-we-definitely-need-to-run-the-ball-better-than-we-did-last-year/

 

File this one in the "No Sh*t Sherlock" column....

 

 

Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter offered a blunt assessment of the Falcons’ ground game.

“We definitely need to run the ball better than we did last year,” he said.

Atlanta finished the 2019 season ranked 30th in the NFL with an average of 85.1 rushing yards per game. A couple of factors worked against the Falcons throughout the season. During the first eight games, Atlanta found itself trailing by two scores or more seven times. That forced the Falcons to abandon the run much earlier than they would have liked. And when Atlanta did try to run the ball, it couldn’t churn out the kind of yards per carry it needed to be a true threat. In Atlanta’s first eight games, it averaged only 68.5 rushing yards per outing, which ranked 29th. While that number did improve to 101.6 rushing yards per game during the final eight games, Atlanta still finished in the bottom half of the league in this category for the second consecutive season.

While the Falcons aren’t able to work with any players during what Koetter called “the most unique offseason in NFL history,” the overall objective will be to better establish a running game in 2020. An effective run game opens up the pass, particularly with play-action, which is when Atlanta feels its most dangerous on offense.

“Your run game sets up the play-action game,” Koetter said. “It never fails every year when you go back and look at the cut-ups, the play-action game is where the explosive plays come. I think 30 percent of our play-action were explosive plays. Your play-action is going to be better if you’re running it better. We have to run the football more efficiently. We just have to do a better job there. It takes all 11 guys. We have to coach it better; we have to execute it better.”

Changing up their personnel a bit, the Falcons parted ways with running back Devonta Freeman and brought in Todd Gurley, a two-time All-Pro running back who does have a lingering knee issue. Although he played in 15 of 16 games for the Los Angeles Rams in 2019, Gurley averaged 17 touches (14.9 rushes, 2.1 receptions) per game, which was a career low in a single season.

At the same time, 17 touches might be what the Falcons envision for Gurley. A year ago, Freeman averaged 17.3 touches (13.1 rushes, 4.2 receptions) per game. In the majority of head coach Dan Quinn’s seasons with Atlanta, he has favored a committee approach at running back. From 2015-18, Tevin Coleman shared time with Freeman. In 2019, Ito Smith was Freeman’s backup before a season-ending injury put Brian Hill in that role.

With Gurley replacing Freeman as Atlanta’s lead back, this philosophy is likely to remain. While the team will need to manage Gurley’s knee on a weekly basis, he wasn’t expected to get an average of more than 20 touches in a 16-game season. In addition, the Falcons are protected contractually if Gurley is unable to pass a physical once he is able to travel to the team facility.

“Todd is only 25 years old, and he’s had two seasons where he was arguably the best running back in football,” Koetter said. “You’re just talking about different degrees. When he’s at his best, he’s got speed, he’s got power, he can break tackles, he’s elusive, he can catch the ball out of the backfield. We’ve all seen what he can do. His accolades speak for themselves. We just have to see how healthy he is and how consistently he can do it. He can still do it, it’s just a matter of how often can he do it?”

Koetter added that he has a number of carries per game in mind for both Gurley and the rushing offense. He didn’t want to reveal that because, with at least a little jest, “(The media) will bring it up every week.”

Last season, the Falcons tied for 29th with an average of 22.6 rushes per game. With better execution and without having to play catch-up early in games, Koetter hopes he will be able to call more runs in 2020.

As it pertains to Gurley, Koetter said the Falcons and Rams are similar in philosophy and terminology, which should make Gurley’s addition seamless. If the team does keep Gurley around 17 touches per game — including 15 as a runner — that should open up some opportunities for the other backs, especially if the Falcons are truly committed to increasing its rushing volume.

“I’m a big believer that it’s not just about one person running all of the runs, of course,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “We’re a big mix-up team. We think that’s a very important part of making sure that we rotate our guys through there. They all come to the table with different positives and different traits, of course, and I would not — I’m a big believer in making sure that you have the mix.”

Behind Gurley, the Falcons either will opt for Smith or Hill to be the No. 2 back. Smith was the team’s No. 2 back a year ago until a neck injury ended his season after only seven games. Hill stepped in as Freeman’s backup after Smith’s injury and earned two starts. This preseason, Qadree Ollison, entering his second NFL season, also will get a shot at a rotational spot, as could undrafted free agent Mikey Daniel.

Both Smith and Hill averaged more than 4 yards per carry with Smith tying Freeman with a team-high long of 28 yards.

“To their credit, they want more. They want bigger roles,” Koetter said. “That’s what they should do is come in and compete for those bigger roles. Ito was playing well up until the time he got hurt. Like anything else, it’s a work in progress. When the guys get back we’ll figure it out.”

Quinn and Dimitroff felt confident enough in Smith and Hill to the point that they didn’t feel like they needed to take another running back in the draft.

“When you have a position like that and you’re just wanting those guys to go fight for it and you really believe in them like we do, you want to give them the benefit of the doubt,” Quinn said. “They’re pushing, they’re digging, they’re grinding for it, so you’re always looking like you do at every position. That’s part of the role. But we have a lot of belief in that group for sure.”

While Gurley’s touch count went down last season, Koetter pointed to games Gurley had against the Carolina Panthers and the Chicago Bears as ones that showed he still can play at an elite level in the NFL. And Koetter also pointed out that there is no way of knowing what all went into the Rams’ subpar season running the ball. As Gurley drew a lot of attention due to his decreased numbers, it wasn’t like his fellow running backs were succeeding much. Darrell Henderson (3.8 yards per carry) and Malcolm Brown (3.7) also struggled behind a Rams’ offensive line that was unable to generate much in the run game.

If Atlanta’s offensive line can offer improved blocking for Gurley, perhaps Gurley will return to the form he previously has displayed. But Koetter, like every other Falcons employee, will be forced to wait a while longer before getting the chance to see Gurley up close.

“We’ll find out his health after he gets here,” Koetter said. “He’s saying all the right things. I just talked to him the other day. I know he’s excited. I know the fans are excited, all the Georgia Bulldog fans are excited to get him here. We’ll just see. You can’t deny his talent and what he’s already done in this league. The question is his health and we’ll just have to see.”

 

 

He said BETTER not more....

 

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“Your run game sets up the play-action game,” Koetter said. “It never fails every year when you go back and look at the cut-ups, the play-action game is where the explosive plays come. "

I'm thinking he's been a 2-time NFL OC and an NFL Head coach and he sounds like he's just now figuring this out?

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Posted (edited)

It was obvious that Freeman had lost a step or two last year. When Hill would come in the game it looked like he was shot out of a cannon compared to Free.

Hitting the hole slowly puts pressure on the line to open hopes for longer periods of time. I’m excited to see what we can do this year.

Edited by Emmitt

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10 minutes ago, Emmitt said:

It was obvious that Freeman had lost a step or two last year. When Hill would come in the game it looked like he was shot out of a cannon compared to Free.

Hitting the hole slowly puts pressure on the line to open hopes for longer periods of time. I’m excited to see what we can do this year.

Hill looked pretty good.

Ito had his moments...albeit in a very small sample size.

Ollison also did a good job in short yardage.

If Gurley is healthy then I think that the running game is going to surprise people.

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1 hour ago, since68andcounting said:

I'm thinking he's been a 2-time NFL OC and an NFL Head coach and he sounds like he's just now figuring this out?

Lol it just seems like it takes this guy years to "get with the program". By the time he figures out what works on one level everyone else has moved on to the next.

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Ya'll shredding this man to pieces.....

He didn't come out with this as a statement, it was an answer to a series of questions. Don't get mad at his response, get mad at the line of questions. 

What would have been a better response to some one asking if we should run the ball more next year? NO ?

You guys got to relax. its May, the offseason is going to be very long with no other football activities going on. The questions will get more and more redundant and the answers will get more and more watered down

 

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1 hour ago, LightningDawg58 said:

Ya'll shredding this man to pieces.....

He didn't come out with this as a statement, it was an answer to a series of questions. Don't get mad at his response, get mad at the line of questions. 

What would have been a better response to some one asking if we should run the ball more next year? NO ?

You guys got to relax. its May, the offseason is going to be very long with no other football activities going on. The questions will get more and more redundant and the answers will get more and more watered down

He also blamed himself, for the lack of a run game last year. I like Koetter, was glad to see him come back. He will know how to optimize this Offense, you can trust me on this. 

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PFF Grades:

Devonta Freeman: 60.8

Ito Smith: 59.9

Brian Hill: 58.9

Qadree Ollison: 55.6

Whenever RBs have grades this low, it's a tell-tale sign that the offensive line has failed completely.

Gurley was only a 67 last year, so he's not the savior on his own. It all starts and ends upfront.

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36 minutes ago, Cheap Talk said:

He also blamed himself, for the lack of a run game last year. I like Koetter, was glad to see him come back. He will know how to optimize this Offense, you can trust me on this. 

If we stay healthy definitely. We got exactly what he needs.

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3 hours ago, Emmitt said:

Hitting the hole slowly puts pressure on the line to open hopes for longer periods of time. I’m excited to see what we can do this year.

Sometimes hitting the hole slowly to put some pressure on is a good thing.....or so I'm told. I'm usually trying to hit the hole WAY too fast....

 

:ninja: :slick:

 

Sorry, @Emmitt, it was just teed up there....:D

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We absolutely need to run the ball better and the OL needs to be better plus the D gotta keep us in the game unlike last year. Can’t always run the ball X number times when the D never makes a stop and the O is playing catch up by the second qt 

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The disappointing thing for me is the lack of identity and execution of what we want to be.We made it very easy for opposing defense’s to shut our offense down.

The lack of a plan A let alone a plan B and the ability to adapt on the fly made me rope-able.We sat Ryan back there in down and distance and let opposing pass rushers tee off on our Oline and Ryan himself.Without a plan to combat it.

Just keep the long developing stuff and we couldn’t keep an opposing defense off balance.This too me outside of thee obvious improve the run game scenario is an issue and goes back to game planning.We have weapons all over the park but we only want to hit teams vertically.Horizontal and mis direction are like dirty words.

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29 minutes ago, Atl Falcon said:

We absolutely need to run the ball better and the OL needs to be better plus the D gotta keep us in the game unlike last year. Can’t always run the ball X number times when the D never makes a stop and the O is playing catch up by the second qt 

Yup.

I don't care if we run more....we just have to be more effective when we run.

 

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On 5/14/2020 at 5:05 PM, HASHBROWN3 said:

Ultimately, he can call run plays, but he can't block open the holes...  Got to be fair.  

Truth. But that OL should be better this year. If it isn't, then it doesn't matter who's calling the plays or who's running the football.

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40 minutes ago, kiwifalcon said:

The disappointing thing for me is the lack of identity and execution of what we want to be.We made it very easy for opposing defense’s to shut our offense down.

The lack of a plan A let alone a plan B and the ability to adapt on the fly made me rope-able.We sat Ryan back there in down and distance and let opposing pass rushers tee off on our Oline and Ryan himself.Without a plan to combat it.

Just keep the long developing stuff and we couldn’t keep an opposing defense off balance.This too me outside of thee obvious improve the run game scenario is an issue and goes back to game planning.We have weapons all over the park but we only want to hit teams vertically.Horizontal and mis direction are like dirty words.

Saw Koetter adapt and change the game plan multiple times, and with success. I think he is one of the better NFL OCs in being able to change-up his style of play, to adopt to something for the game at hand. He was just a couple of games late last year in doing so, thinking if they could just get to the break. They did alright, but it was too late by then.

There was one game the Offense could not have won, like the Houston game. Lost 33-34 to Arizona.  A couple of wins in the front half and we are talking about a different season, completely. Koetter is the guy, you will see. He s the reincarnation of Rommel, the 'Desert Fox'.

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21 minutes ago, Cheap Talk said:

Saw Koetter adapt and change the game plan multiple times, and with success. I think he is one of the better NFL OCs in being able to change-up his style of play, to adopt to something for the game at hand. He was just a couple of games late last year in doing so, thinking if they could just get to the break. They did alright, but it was too late by then.

There was one game the Offense could not have won, like the Houston game. Lost 33-34 to Arizona.  A couple of wins in the front half and we are talking about a different season, completely. Koetter is the guy, you will see. He s the reincarnation of Rommel, the 'Desert Fox'.

He knows what HE wants it to be but wheather it’s best for what he has around him I’m not so sure.

I saw alot of stuff in the second half of the season that looked very familiar to what we’d been running in previous years.For me that isn’t Koetter that’s trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

Koetter can still run his vertical scheme he just has to fit the pieces we have to the scheme and as above be adaptable.At the moment teams absolutely know what Koetter wants to do this is thee issue

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Healthy effective defense keeps you from playing too far behind, if at all. 

Effective blocking creates avenues for positive ground yardage.

Quick attacks to the holes before they close yeild positive ground yardage.

Positive ground yardage opens up play action pass opportunities.

A banged up defense, slow running back and banged up O line will have you playing from behind, having to throw your way out of a hole. DK is not the reason for last season. 

I will say this, right now, on paper, he has every tool he needs to prove every nay sayer wrong about his playcalling skills. 

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7 hours ago, jidady said:

PFF Grades:

Devonta Freeman: 60.8

Ito Smith: 59.9

Brian Hill: 58.9

Qadree Ollison: 55.6

Whenever RBs have grades this low, it's a tell-tale sign that the offensive line has failed completely.

Gurley was only a 67 last year, so he's not the savior on his own. It all starts and ends upfront.

That’s not how their grades work, that’s how box score stats work.  Players grade low when they don’t do well, not because someone else didn’t do well.  If there is no running lanes for instance and they lose yardage, they are graded as an expected play, not good or bad, while the line would be docked more than likely if someone missed a block. 

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