The Falcons made the move I more than half-expected but didn’t particularly want when they hired Greg Knapp to be their quarterbacks coach Saturday. As I mentioned last week, I was not a fan of Knapp during his days as Atlanta’s offensive coordinator over a decade ago, when I was just a fledgling Falcoholic and Michael Vick was still the quarterback for the Falcons. Much has changed since then, though, and Knapp is not stepping in as the coordinator.
Knapp has extensive experience working with quarterbacks, including Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, and Vick, and his work as a QB whisperer has never been criticized with the same venom as his work as an offensive coordinator. Knapp is an old school proponent of a strong ground game as a coordinator—you may remember just how good the Falcons were on the ground with him at the helm, more or less by design—but as a quarterbacks coach he’s got a solid reputation as a player’s coach who can work with veterans. If you’re a coach working with the likes of Manning or Palmer, you mostly just give a little advice, I imagine, and otherwise get out of the way. I can’t take anything away from the work he did with Trevor Siemian in 2016, either.
The other half of this hire, as we mentioned when we took a look at Darrell Bevell, is that the quarterbacks coach may have some limited input into the offense. I don’t think it’s a total coincidence that the Falcons interviewed and went with a veteran coach with coordinating experience after Steve Sarkisian’s side of the ball was a fairly shaky in 2017, even if Knapp doesn’t exactly have an inspiring history in that regard at the NFL level. If he can help smooth things out for Sark in his second year while getting nowhere near actually calling football games, that’d be ideal, because none of Knapp’s offenses past his stint in Atlanta (or even really during) were elite units.
That shouldn’t be a struggle, though, because I’d wager the average quarterbacks coach isn’t out there drawing up plays. Knapp’s hire means the Falcons are trying to give Matt Ryan an experienced coach to work with, and to ensure someone with play calling experience is around in case Sark needs the help and/or Sark flames out. That’s nothing objectionable, really, and there’s always the chance we’re overstating how much potential there is for Knapp to have real input into the offense at all. If he likes Banana Republic, he should be fine with Ryan.
The only way this move really ends poorly is if Knapp winds up in charge of this offense again, which I have to admit is a prospect that still makes me deeply wary. If he’s simply working with Matt Ryan and offering some veteran coordinator advice to Steve Sarkisian (hopefully along the lines of “run the dang football”), though, he’s a perfectly fine hire for quarterbacks coach. Here’s hoping this works out well.