By Matthew Asher
Earlier this week an article about Atlanta’s X-Factor: offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter was published. Now that Black Monday has come and gone the Falcons knew it was only a matter of time until one of the teams contacted Koetter about a head coaching position. With Atlanta doing such a great job on offense, Falcons fans may be paraphrasing The Clash’s hit song, “Should Koetter stay with Atlanta, or should he go elsewhere as a head coach?”
This is a case of good news and bad news for Falcons fans. On one hand, it means that Koetter is definitely doing something right if these other teams have taken notice. On the other hand, being offered a head coaching job in the NFL is an honor that few people will turn down. “It’s an honor to have guys mentioned for other positions,” Mike Smith said. “It says we have a great staff and I’ve been saying it for a long time. In my mind, we have the best coaching staff in the NFL.”
Fortunately for the Falcons, it appears that the courting of Koetter has come and gone. After Wednesday’s practice, Smitty had good news about Dirk’s future. “I spoke with Coach Koetter last night and am very excited that he’s going to be here with us.” While Smitty wouldn’t get into specifics, the good news is that for the immediate future the Atlanta offense will not have to undergo any huge changes.
Why is it important that Atlanta not change their scheming? With a 13-3 record, it’s clear that the coaching staff is doing something right. Smitty definitely adheres to the “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” adage. “Continuity on your football team and on your coaching staff is important,” Smitty said. “Dirk’s a very good football coach. Done a nice job for us and we’ve put that to rest.”
Smitty wasn’t the only member of the Falcons happy with Koetter’s decision to stay. Quarterback Matt Ryan loves the new offensive system and is glad the two will be working together at least for one more season. “I think the guys enjoy working with him and learning from him,” Ryan said. “I’m excited he’s going to be here and I know the guys are too.”
While Matty Ice enjoys Koetter’s system, it’s not just because of the increased offensive production he’s put up this season. From day one working together Ryan has enjoyed interacting with Koetter not just as a coach, but also as a human being. “I was impressed with is knowledge of our guys and how he thought that we could mix some of the things that he had done in the past into what we were doing before,” Ryan said. “I think one of the biggest things that helped throughout the situation was him adapting to the terminology and a lot of the concepts that we used. We had one guy changing for the mass as opposed to the mass changing for one guy. I think guys really respected that and appreciated it.”
Anyone who’s seen the Falcons offense this year knows how dangerous it can be when the players are in sync. Part of it has to do with Koetter constantly adding new wrinkles to the offense. “I think he does a great job of putting all of our guys in position to succeed,” Ryan said. “He changes it up and he puts different guys out there at different times, but the thing I think the thing everybody respects and likes the most is he trusts our guys to go out there and make plays. He’s not afraid to be aggressive and it’s been fun.”
Hopefully for the Falcons, Koetter will prove how much of an X-Factor he is if Atlanta can finally win their first playoff game since the Ryan/Smith era began in 2008.
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Matthew Asher is a freelance writer covering all things Atlanta sports related. His work can be found on Examiner.com.