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Koetter explains why Falcons remained aggressive late against Bears - AJC


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by Jason Butt for the AJC

 

Although the Falcons led the Bears by double digits in the fourth quarter, there wasn’t much of a discussion to slow the game down and try to bleed some clock.

With the way the first half of the fourth quarter transpired, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said he remain aggressive to get another score to put the game away. Unfortunately for the Falcons, the offense, which led by as many as 16 in the fourth quarter and held a 10-point lead with 6:15 remaining in the game, was unable to produce that extra touchdown to put the Bears away.

“Because we were struggling in all areas, our focus was more on we need to try to flip the field here and score another time,” Koetter said. “Not necessarily running out the clock because if you look at the time when you had the ball, there was still too much time and they had all their timeouts. We weren’t really in our four-minute offense mode at that point.”

Koetter was then asked if he remained aggressive because he felt he needed one more touchdown to feel secure about the game.

“Absolutely,” he said.

Much of the fourth quarter’s focus, at least on offense, centered around the offense’s decision to throw the ball on five of six plays on consecutive three-and-outs. The first possession started with 6:15 to go in the game, with Todd Gurley kicking the drive off with a 1-yard run. The next two plays were incomplete passes. After a Bears touchdown cut the Falcons' lead to 26-23, the Falcons took over with 4:21 to go in the game, with quarterback Matt Ryan throwing three incomplete passes before a punt.

In total, including the punt plays, the Falcons worked only 1:17 off the clock on those two drives. In the moment, there was some wonder as to why the Falcons weren’t trying to run off more time in that situation.

Meanwhile, the Bears offense reached the red zone twice and scored one touchdown and had another reversed on fourth down after replay showed receiver Anthony Miller dropped the ball. Chicago also added touchdown passes of 37 and 28 yards. With the Bears' offense catching fire late, it is now apparent Koetter didn’t feel the 16- and 10-point leads the Falcons held in the fourth quarter were safe.

Koetter’s revelation that the team wasn’t attempting to burn any clock explains the aggressive approach. The execution, however, resulted in a worst-case type of scenario. On second-and-9 of the drive that began with 6:15 left in the game, Ryan threw an inaccurate ball to receiver Calvin Ridley on second down. On the next play, his short throw to tight end Hayden Hurst was knocked away but wouldn’t have picked up the first down anyway.

On their next offensive series, with the Falcons leading by three, Ryan’s short pass to running back Brian Hill nosedived into the ground on first down. On second down, after running back Ito Smith split out wide, Ryan threw a screen pass that was off target and with more pace than Smith expected. After a false start on the next play, Ryan threw the ball deep to receiver Olamide Zaccheaus, who was breaking open. But Ryan’s pass sailed past Zaccheaus, bringing up another fourth down.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn had no problem with how that sequence of the game was called and faulted the execution of those plays.

“On those ones you regret the result, not necessarily the call,” Quinn said. "You complete the screen to Ito, you move it up the field for a first down. Having those chances to make a catch and move the ball up the field -- we certainly trust Matt and the guys. Why wouldn’t you? Make sure you nail them (because) when you don’t, yeah, you don’t like the result.

“We always want to choose the best plays in those spaces. And you want to take the clock off. The catch is, you want to have a good play and a good design that when this play is going to come up, we’re going to nail it. When you don’t, the consequences are big.”

While Ryan was only sacked twice by the Bears, he did take eight quarterback hits. Koetter thinks this Chicago’s pressure led to some of Ryan’s errant throws late in the game.

“We’ve done a pretty good job of protecting Matt so far this year but he did take some hits,” Koetter said. “I think that did affect him a little bit. He still made some really nice throws in the game. But there are some plays -- the screen is an example where the ball had a lot of heat on it, maybe a little more juice on it than Ito was expecting. But those are plays that we expect to get a completion and get ahead of the chains.”

In the fourth quarter, Koetter said the Bears switched their defensive personnel grouping. For three quarters, they ran a defensive front with four linemen. Beginning with the first play of the fourth quarter, Chicago went with what Koetter called a “nickel 51” defense, which features five defensive linemen, one linebacker and five defensive backs. The objective of this defense, Koetter said, was to take away the Falcons' rushing attack.

That defense worked, with the Falcons totaling nine rushing yards in the fourth quarter.

Although Koetter wanted to remain aggressive in that situation, he was asked if he would have preferred to run the ball more in those situations, especially with the benefit of hindsight.

“When a play doesn’t work for any reason, whether it’s the fault of the call, the fault of the execution or a good play by the defense, of course it’s human nature that you’re going to (ask), ‘What if we did something else?’” he said. “But we didn’t.”

 

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So we didn't run it because we didn't trust a 16 point lead to be enough to focus on trying to run the ball to protect the lead? So once again, it all comes back to the defense. Koetter is afraid of t

A day later and neither Quinn nor Koetter have a problem with all the passes called in the 4th.  That is troubling

They don't get it and that's why this whole thing needs to be blown up.

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So we didn't run it because we didn't trust a 16 point lead to be enough to focus on trying to run the ball to protect the lead? So once again, it all comes back to the defense. Koetter is afraid of the **** defense blowing leads and it's causing him to be a dumb*** when it comes to 4th quarter play calling. The fact that neither Quinn or Koetter even realize that you shouldn't fear blowing a 16 point lead and that's the real problem here shows that neither of them get it. Both are so clueless and clueless Artie is captain clueless.

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39 minutes ago, FalconinPA said:

Aggressive, is that what he called aggressive? 

The last play on each of our last three drives was a deep ball. One overthrown, one underthrown and one picked. The Bears pass rush was in Ryan's skull at that point. They had him off kilter and playing scared.

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Just now, FalconFanSince1970 said:

The last play on each of our last three drives was a deep ball. One overthrown, one underthrown and one picked. The Bears pass rush was in Ryan's skull at that point. They had him off kilter and playing scared.

The thing is that when we were running the ball well the first 3 quarters of the game Ryan was playing well. He was making the right throws and completing passes and the offense looked good and posted 26 points. As soon as Koetter panicked and started passing every single play the Bears were able to start knocking the crap out of Ryan and get him rattled and he started missing throws.

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21 minutes ago, NWFALCON said:

Far superior is a huge overstep. Our coaching staff isn’t the best but they didn’t get hugely out coached in either game. 

Huh?  We could have won by taking a knee every single offensive play once up 26-10. There would not have been enough time for the Bears to come back. The only way the Bears win is if we create extra time for them...which is exactly what Koetter did.  
 

The very definition of being out coached  

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31 minutes ago, AUTiger7222 said:

The thing is that when we were running the ball well the first 3 quarters of the game Ryan was playing well. He was making the right throws and completing passes and the offense looked good and posted 26 points. As soon as Koetter panicked and started passing every single play the Bears were able to start knocking the crap out of Ryan and get him rattled and he started missing throws.

We ran well in the 2nd quarter. The Bears started shutting some runs down in the third. Don't forget Kutty considers some of those high percentage short passes runs. When you catch em that's OK. When you don't not so much. Trust me if we had run the ball nine times on our last three drives and gone three and out TATF would still have lost its collective mind.

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32 minutes ago, FalconsIn2012 said:

Making the calls even more peculiar, don’t you think?

Not if you're trying to stay aggressive. I think when we hear Quinn and Kutty say that what they are really saying is we don't trust our defense worth a dam so we're going to try to keep scoring. The first time we heard this was in SB51 when the defense bled 31 points in 22 minutes. They been bleeding at a high rate in 2020. It's the secondary. It's in shambles and it is a talent problem in my opinion.

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6 minutes ago, FalconFanSince1970 said:

We ran well in the 2nd quarter. The Bears started shutting some runs down in the third. Don't forget Kutty considers some of those high percentage short passes runs. When you catch em that's OK. When you don't not so much. Trust me if we had run the ball nine times on our last three drives and gone three and out TATF would still have lost its collective mind.

The opening drive of the 2nd half Gurley had 30 or 40 yards rushing on it. Bears had no answer for it.

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3 minutes ago, FalconFanSince1970 said:

Not if you're trying to stay aggressive. I think when we hear Quinn and Kutty say that what they are really saying is we don't trust our defense worth a dam so we're going to try to keep scoring. The first time we heard this was in SB51 when the defense bled 31 points in 22 minutes. They been bleeding at a high rate in 2020. It's the secondary. It's in shambles and it is a talent problem in my opinion.

It's an everything problem. 

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14 minutes ago, AUTiger7222 said:

The opening drive of the 2nd half Gurley had 30 or 40 yards rushing on it. Bears had no answer for it.

Bears started clamping down on the next three drives. In the 4th when yall are saying we should have pounded it the Bears were geared to stop the run. This OLine is not built for ground and pound in known running situations. That's part of the problem too.

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Just now, FalconFanSince1970 said:

Bears started clamping down on the next three drives. In the 4th when yall are saying we should have pounded it the Bears were geared to stop the run. This OLine is not built for ground and pound in known running situations. That's part of the problem too.

But when you're trying to protect a lead the yards don't matter as much as the time does and the Falcons only took 11 seconds off the clock on one of their possessions. It's just like the Super Bowl. The Patriots tied the game with 40 seconds left in the Super Bowl. 40 seconds is 1 dang play!! That's it!! All the Falcons needed in the Super Bowl was 1 run play to take 40 seconds off the clock and that game ever even goes to OT. That's the point. The time. Scoring and yards is secondary at that point.

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