The Atlanta Falcons Hire Dirk Koetter As Offensive Coordinator

It's now been confirmed by two sources: Dirk Koetter is the guy.

The reactions to this hire have ranged from passive acceptance to outrage, which is about what I would have anticipated given that the Falcons are hiring the guy who presided over the 32nd overall offense in the NFL this season. Also, his name is Dirk.

Me? I actually like this hire based on potential, though it's a long way from blowing my socks off. You must take into account what Koetter was working with in Jacksonville over the past few seasons when evaluating him. You're welcome to wonder why the Jaguars couldn't rise above if he's such a good coordinator—in past seasons, I've wondered this myself—but do consider the circumstances.

The Jaguars had Blaine Gabbert as their quarterback this season. They had a banged-up, useless offensive line. They have not had a better wide receiver in the last five years than Mike Sims-Walker. Gene Smith, the vaunted personnel man for the Jaguars, has produced a bevy of underperforming linemen and zero guys who could start at wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons during his tenure. By this season, Koetter literally had nothing to work with. Jack Del Rio further undercut him by forcing Gabbert into the starting lineup. As you might remember, Gabbert was not ready to play in a Pop Warner league, much less the NFL.

Does this mean he gets a free pass? No. Certainly he struggled mightily at times to get the most out of his (mediocre) weapons. But he did squeeze a lot out of David Garrard and helped turn Maurice Jones-Drew into one of the league's elite running backs. Your credit mileage for those achievements may vary, of course.

Koetter has had high-scoring, quality passing offenses under his belt. The 2007 Jaguars were very good, as were his Arizona State teams. I should repeat again that he managed to make David Garrard look like a pretty good quarterback. He has never worked with an offense as talented as the Falcons'. Period.

To me, that's the most important factor. Koetter's quarterback and wide receivers in Atlanta are and will be light years ahead of what he had in Jacksonville.

He's got a lot of proving to do and an owner and fanbase with very little patience. I have my concerns about the fact that some believe he'll basically run the same offense we've seen over the last four years, but I would temper that by noting that Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff probably are not all that interested in losing their jobs. The Falcons are going to ask him to open up the offense and not be a Mularkey clone, and if he can't do that, his stay in Atlanta will be brief.

I may be on an island here, but I believe he can pull it off.

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