Jump to content

Dirk Koetter feels caught up on calling Kyle Shanahan’s scheme


Recommended Posts

https://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-falcons/dirk-koetter-feels-caught-up-on-calling-kyle-shanahans-scheme/RZZRVTMEUBC6VPYLBHNDETA6TM/
 

By Jason Butt, For the AJC
 

 

In each of his NFL stops as an offensive coordinator, Dirk Koetter has been the new guy on staff.

With each team, Koetter was naturally forced to adjust to the style set by the head coach that had been in place -- whether it was under Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville, Lovie Smith in Tampa Bay, or in each of the times he coached with the Falcons under Mike Smith and Dan Quinn.

But both times with the Falcons, that involved learning how to coach the previous offense that was put in place by a predecessor.

In 2012, Koetter blended his Air Coryell offense with the existing run-oriented scheme that Mike Mularkey had previously installed. He took that hybrid scheme to Tampa Bay, where he was an offensive coordinator in 2015 and head coach from 2016-18. Back with the Falcons, in 2019, Koetter was asked to learn a different style of offense.

This time, it was the scheme former Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan installed in 2015. Although Shanahan left after the 2016 season to become the San Francisco 49ers' head coach, the Falcons have kept this system in place in the ensuing years. After two years of Steve Sarkisian running the scheme, Koetter was tasked with learning it a year ago.

Koetter said there hasn’t been a comfort issue with the Shanahan offense. The tough part, he said, was learning the terminology. Entering his second season calling these plays, Koetter believes he will be able to call this offense much more efficiently on game days.

“My comfort level was good both times, but in my second year in this system, I can definitely call things up faster than I could a year ago at this time,” Koetter said. “This was just a little bit of a different language for me. I had to run it through the translation machine sometimes to spit it out in the language I’d been using for my other 30-plus years of coaching. I’m the one that needed some catching up on that, not any of the key players.”

One of the reasons Falcons coach Dan Quinn has kept the Shanahan system in place is to ease the burden on the players. Instead of an entire offense being forced to learn a new system, the idea is for one coordinator to adjust to everyone else.

With the Falcons finding success under Shanahan, which culminated in a 2016 season that ended in the Super Bowl, Quinn knew he wanted to keep this type of offense in place. Each of the two coordinators he’s employed since have adhered to the basics of the offense while adding certain wrinkles to their liking.

Quinn said he wanted to keep the offense uniform so that the players wouldn’t have to adjust to something brand new in the event of a coordinator change.

“That’s a scheme that we wanted to build through,” Quinn said. “A scheme is not something we want to do as a one-time thing. … Having continuity for the players, that’s a big deal. On most teams, when you’re doing well there are opportunities for guys to advance and move up. And when that happens you’d like to see as much consistency as you can. That was important to us and will be moving forward as well.”

Quarterback Matt Ryan said keeping the Shanahan system in place was a great benefit to him since he didn’t have to go through a change in terminology. Under Shanahan and Sarkisian, Ryan saw his numbers jump in the second season. The hope for the offense is that a similar outcome occurs with Koetter guiding this offense in the second season of his second stint with the franchise.

Ryan said he thinks that Koetter is more comfortable calling this particular offense. He noted Koetter no longer takes an extra look at the play sheet and that everything seems “second nature to him.”

“From a player’s perspective, when the language doesn’t change -- we had a lot of people coming back,” Ryan said. “So it’s really one guy changing for 35 other guys as opposed to 35 changing for one. But it’s not easy for that coordinator, too. That’s a tough thing to do, to be the person in charge but being the one making the adjustment. It’s difficult. I thought he did a great job with it. But from a player’s perspective when you’re not changing the terminology.”

When it’s at its best, Shanahan’s system relies on the run to set up the play-action pass. When the stretch running plays are executed well, it’s proved to be a tough offense to slow. However, a year ago, the Falcons averaged only 85.1 rushing yards per game, which ranked 30th. For the Falcons to get back to the level of success they had under Shanahan’s watch, they’ll need to improve their rushing attack.

In San Francisco, Shanahan guided the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance last season while finishing second in the NFL in rushing at 144 yards per game.

Koetter’s ability to adapt to other offenses, as well as his previous relationship with Ryan, made him an attractive candidate to hire from the Falcons' viewpoint. And entering the 2020 season, Koetter feels better equipped to run the offensive scheme he has since learned over the past year.

“The system Kyle Shanahan put in here is an excellent system as well,” Koetter said. “It’s proven itself. There are several teams in the NFL using it right now, and we’re one of them."

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

“I’m the one that needed some catching up on that, not any of the key players.” DK

“A scheme is not something we want to do as a one-time thing. … Having continuity for the players, that’s a big deal. On most teams, when you’re doing well there are opportunities for guys to advance and move up. And when that happens you’d like to see as much consistency as you can. That was important to us and will be moving forward as well.” Quinn

So, we did a Sark 2017 all over again...why didn’t we promote from within?

Ugh! Water under the bridge. Ride or die now.

But, it didn’t look as much like the Shanny offense by trying to force it to mesh with a different run scheme. So... there’s that.

Time to move forward.

Edited by Ergo Proxy
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Ergo Proxy said:

“I’m the one that needed some catching up on that, not any of the key players.”

So, we did a Sark 2017 all over again...why didn’t we promote from within?

Ugh! Water under the bridge. Ride or die now.

But, it didn’t look as much like the Shanny offense by trying to force it to mesh with a different run scheme. So... there’s that.

Time to move forward.

Whether right or not, I think Koetter was Blank's hire so that is Quinn had to go, DK would either stay at OC or become HC, and Raheem Morris would become DC, or become HC.  I think even if Quinn and TD got the axe, this late in the Ryan / Julio combo, he was going to ride it out.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, poutlipper said:

Whether right or not, I think Koetter was Blank's hire so that is Quinn had to go, DK would either stay at OC or become HC, and Raheem Morris would become DC, or become HC.  I think even if Quinn and TD got the axe, this late in the Ryan / Julio combo, he was going to ride it out.

Honestly, it felt like we wanted Kubiak and panicked when we couldn’t even get the interview. A few months later, Kubiak bails from Denver and consults for Stefanski; who is now a HC, and look who the OC is now in MIN. Just the guy that Kyle first coached under...:bang:

Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, Ergo Proxy said:

Honestly, it felt like we wanted Kubiak and panicked when we couldn’t even get the interview. A few months later, Kubiak bails from Denver and consults for Stefanski; who is now a HC, and look who the OC is now in MIN. Just the guy that Kyle first coached under...:bang:

Yeah, it didn't make a lot of sense to go from Sark to Koetter to me.  I wasn't a big fan of his, but his 2018 was a huge improvement on 2017.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, poutlipper said:

Yeah, it didn't make a lot of sense to go from Sark to Koetter to me.  I wasn't a big fan of his, but his 2018 was a huge improvement on 2017.

That was part of the panic, IMO. That said, we don’t know if Sark would have been able to rebound moving forward. And, the run game was still fairly strong in 2017 before the OL injuries and Free got hurt. It fell off in year 2 for Steve. Is the run game going to at least show up this year?

I can understand wanting to play inside zone and some gap principles at a high level but we abandoned the stretch zone and it cut our effectiveness using Free to almost nothing. It was a running theme to start 2019 tho, changing a lot. It’s why this year might actually go well by keeping coaches and going back to what worked on the ground before. While we don’t have McDaniel, we have as much talent on the OL as SF. No reason we should be 30th in the league, even if the defense was bad first half of the year. A good run game could curb some of that and keep games a little closer.

Obviously, you won’t keep running 12 or 13 personnel down 3 scores but the rate of shotgun and avoiding under C was just weird. Quinn kinda sounds like a man that regrets his choices after 2018 and changing up scheme.

Maybe Morris on Defense sticking and a learned Koetter to the Shanahan system will be enough. I’m not sure why the run game fell off so hard in 2018 outside of injury but usually you can plug and play if the OL is doing it’s job. So, we fired Sark and then invested in players but changed scheme? Made no sense.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, FalconsIn2012 said:

4ef6hi.jpg

Well, tbf Sark has WCO background but not the Shanny system of wide zone, afaik?

He studied as an assistant and QB coach under Norm Chow, the OC for then HC Pete Carroll and thus why Quinn got the vote of confidence in hiring Sark.

That, to me, is why DQ went with Sark. He thought he could understand what Kyle did quick enough and emulate it. He made strides through the air but again we lost the ground game; in part due to injuries.

Check out this article on Chow, who likely influenced Sark’s development as an OC the most early on:

https://www.bruinsnation.com/2008/2/21/649/89388

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Ergo Proxy said:

Well, tbf Sark has WCO background but not the Shanny system of wide zone, afaik?

He studied as an assistant and QB coach under Norm Chow, the OC for then HC Pete Carroll and thus why Quinn got the vote of confidence in hiring Sark.

That, to me, is why DQ went with Sark. He thought he could understand what Kyle did quick enough and emulate it. He made strides through the air but again we lost the ground game; in part due to injuries.

Check out this article on Chow, who likely influenced Sark’s development as an OC the most early on:

https://www.bruinsnation.com/2008/2/21/649/89388

I was saying Sark was an unknown while DK had no WCO pedigree

Link to post
Share on other sites
55 minutes ago, Ergo Proxy said:

I’m not sure why the run game fell off so hard in 2018 outside of injury but usually you can plug and play if the OL is doing it’s job

I don't think the OL was functional with two rooks and the rest...Injury as you said.

We know what happened with LG and RG was not professional football.  When Lindy returned, things got better.

I expect vast improvement running the ball this season.

Good post.

Edit: I was reading your post as what happened in 2019. 

Never mind.

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Tim Mazetti said:

I don't think the OL was functional with two rooks and the rest...Injury as you said.

We know what happened with LG and RG was not professional football.  When Lindy returned, things got better.

I expect vast improvement running the ball this season.

Good post.

Edit: I was reading your post as what happened in 2019. 

Never mind.

Ya, was thinking more plug and play full ZBS. But ya the turnover on OL last year plus the biggest piece; Lindstrom, being out most of the year hurt the overturn.

Gurley, a year with this unit and Dirk adapting over a full season...everyone should know what to do now but the rust might be thicker than most years for offenses around the league. Just glad we are back to ZBS.

Link to post
Share on other sites

For me, I just want to see some easy yards for our too playmakers on offense.  Watch Julio’s highlights from 2019 and compare them to previous years and it’s very obvious...Koetter struggled to scheme guys open.  You’ll also see he did a poor job of spacing last year.  Guys were on top of each other

 

2018 Julio Highlights

 

2019 Julio Highlights


Here you see the master of creating open space for his playmakers

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, kiwifalcon said:

2012 don’t hold your breath.

I don’t even want that all I want to see is a credible run threat and Ryan going after defenses behind it off of PA.

Agreed.  Hopefully our outside zone is on point because it’s the perfect concept to set up play action.  Here is an article on it.  Worth the read

 

The core concept

At the heart of it all is the outside zone run. One of the most popular run concepts in the NFL today, outside zone accounted for 42.4 percent of the Falcons' handoffs this season. Not only is it an effective run concept, but also play action off outside zone affords the quarterback, on average, far more time than a normal dropback when passing.

Falcons outside zone

The crux of this is the unblocked defender on the backside of the play. If he chases after the run, the quarterback will have all day and a free running lane. If the defender chases after the quarterback, he leaves a gaping cutback lane for the running back. When faced with that conflict, a defender is normally coached to squeeze down his gap until it’s obvious that it’s a pass, and then attack the quarterback. Even if unblocked, this still affords the quarterback 3.5 seconds or more to find an open man—an eternity in the NFL.

Conflict defender

The unblocked defender is not the only one put in a bind, though. Off-ball linebackers have to maintain their gaps, as well, until they’re certain it’s not a run, and that can often times take them 10–20 yards away from where they’d normally defend without play action.

Atlanta’s bread-and-butter play to take advantage of this is a “hi-lo crosser” coming from the side of the run fake, back across to the boot side. One crossing route fits in behind the linebackers, while another comes from the tight end working behind the line of scrimmage. They sell this fake even further by routinely having the tight end come across the line of scrimmage on split-outside zone runs to block the backside linebacker, making the pass look no different from any other run.

Falcons crosser picture

This is a play that Shanahan will dial up almost every week, and sometimes on multiple occasions. It’s also one of the most widely-used play-action run concepts in the NFL today. The read is simple for the quarterback, and every single receiver in the NFL can get open on it by running in a straight line—a great combination for an offense. What’s not as prevalent around the league however, and what makes the Falcons' attack so special, is the other concepts they have that play off of the crosser.

Manipulating expectations

The vast majority of the time when a quarterback rolls out of the pocket one way, all the routes on that play will track over to that side of the field, creating vertical stretches. This is so often the case that you’ll frequently see linebackers who bite on fakes sprint back towards the boot side of the field without even looking for a receiver, knowing a crosser is likely coming in behind them. That’s not always the case with the Atlanta offense, though. Even off of boot-action, the Falcons are still able to stretch the entire width of the field with their routes and force more busted coverages than any other team this season.

One of their favorite ways to do this is with wheel routes, and no route has the capability to make defenses look stupider than the drag wheel.

Falcons drag wheel

It’s an ingenious concept, as the tight end sneakily skirts into the peripheral vision of where safeties and linebackers are normally looking for routes to come from off of play-action fakes. It was run only a handful of times this season, but each time it led to big plays and left opposing defenses pointing fingers at one another.

The Julio Jones effect

Scheme can only take you so far in the NFL, however, and sometimes your players have to be better than the opponents. If your player is Julio Jones, there’s a good chance that’s true. Give Jones and his 4.39 speed that much time to run a route, and no one in the NFL can cover him one-on-one. That’s why the Falcons' No. 1 receiver recorded 570 of his 1,409 yards (40.5 percent) on play-action passes.

Average yards off play action in 2016 season
Rank Player Team Yards off play action
1 Julio Jones ATL 570
2 A.J. Green CIN 478
3 Dontrelle Inman SD (now LAC) 381
4 T.Y. Hilton IND 372
5 Terrelle Pryor CLE 345

Jones’ impact doesn’t stop there, though, as Ryan still went for 1,102 yards off play action to targets not named Julio Jones. The former first rounder’s greatest attribute might be how he influences the decision-making of safeties and corners solely because of the name on the back of his jersey. Getting defenses to focus their attention on one player inherently leaves them resource-deficient elsewhere.

Multiple dimensions

There’s another other large part of Atlanta’s play-action game that has yet to be mentioned, and doesn’t rely on bootlegs. While boot-action is the Falcons' go-to, Atlanta also extensively uses play action off of downhill runs that keep Ryan in the pocket. These tend to be much quicker-hitting, with most timing passes being released within 3 seconds of the snap. The bang-8 post and dig are the Falcons' answer for man coverage to some degree. Whether to turn it into a post or flatten it to a dig is often an option for the receiver, depending on the coverage.

The goal for both is simple: immediately exploit the area behind the linebackers after they bite on the fake. It’s crucial to time up the release of the throw with the break of the receiver to get optimal separation from the corner.

Falcons Bang 8

This is Ryan’s signature route, as he throws it as accurately and as in rhythm as any quarterback in the NFL. He threw these two such routes 21 times this season, going 15-of-21 for 348 yards (16.6 yards per attempt) for a quarterback rating of 141.0.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Team really needs to stop saying they made DK run the Kyle offense last year. Any fool with eyes saw the lack of stretch wide zone, the lack of YAC, the lack of presnap motion and the lack of bootleg. Then we brought in 2 fat guards and tried to sell it as ZBS. Its really sad to see grown men lie when the evidence is right in front of everyone.

Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Ergo Proxy said:

“I’m the one that needed some catching up on that, not any of the key players.” DK

“A scheme is not something we want to do as a one-time thing. … Having continuity for the players, that’s a big deal. On most teams, when you’re doing well there are opportunities for guys to advance and move up. And when that happens you’d like to see as much consistency as you can. That was important to us and will be moving forward as well.” Quinn

So, we did a Sark 2017 all over again...why didn’t we promote from within?

Ugh! Water under the bridge. Ride or die now.

But, it didn’t look as much like the Shanny offense by trying to force it to mesh with a different run scheme. So... there’s that.

Time to move forward.

Two seasons of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones wasted on Sark 2017 and Dirk 2019. Yay. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Lornoth said:

Isn't everyone the new guy on staff when they first get hired to a team? 

Also as others have said, still don't understand not hiring one of Kyle's proteges if we wanted to keep Kyle's offense. Makes no sense. 

Yep, other than a few common plays, the offense looked totally different than our usual. IIRC, Ryan said they packaged up 400 of his favorite plays from his entire time in Atlanta as the offense with Koetter tweaks. That’s not wco zbs 

Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Ergo Proxy said:

“I’m the one that needed some catching up on that, not any of the key players.” DK

“A scheme is not something we want to do as a one-time thing. … Having continuity for the players, that’s a big deal. On most teams, when you’re doing well there are opportunities for guys to advance and move up. And when that happens you’d like to see as much consistency as you can. That was important to us and will be moving forward as well.” Quinn

So, we did a Sark 2017 all over again...why didn’t we promote from within?

Ugh! Water under the bridge. Ride or die now.

But, it didn’t look as much like the Shanny offense by trying to force it to mesh with a different run scheme. So... there’s that.

Time to move forward.

Yeah don't understand why they didn't promote from within. Sark year 1, Koetter year 1 seem like wasted years as they have to learn the system instead of hiring someone who already knows it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...