When the Falcons decided to move on from offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian last year, many fans wondered if the new OC would deploy more up-tempo sets with the talented Falcons offense in 2019. When it was announced that Dirk Koetter would be returning as OC, many of us speculated that the up-tempo plays may finally make a return.
If tight end Austin Hooper is right, it looks like that is already being worked on for this season.
Falcons fans are already familiar with how good Matt Ryan can be when he’s calling the offense on the field. Since his first year in the league, Ryan has shown a great ability to dissect defenses and call plays that best take advantage of what he sees. However, when Kyle Shanahan came in for the 2015 season, the Falcons offense moved away from the “Texas offense” in favor of the controlled, methodical play-calling of the brilliant OC.
The team used up-tempo sets a little more when Sarkisian was in town, but still used them somewhat sparingly. Now that Dirk Koetter is back, there’s a good chance we’ll see far more of it, especially if Austin Hooper is correct.
Really, this may be the perfect season to get the up-tempo re-integrated into the offense. Across the board, the offense is filled with veterans and players in their second year in the league or later. In fact, the only projected rookie starter — right now — is OG Chris Lindstrom.
Guys like Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Devonta Freeman and Matt Ryan are all veterans who know what to look for on the field. Players like Calvin Ridley and Ito Smith are in their second year, so they should be far more comfortable this year than last. Guys like Austin Hooper and Justin Hardy have good chemistry with Ryan as well.
With very few starters coming in green, the best time to utilize up-tempo sets is now. We will still see plenty of scripted drives or plays called from the sidelines. It’s unlikely the team will suddenly become the 1990s Buffalo Bills. Yet, if the team can integrate these sets just a little more frequently, it could make this offense incredibly unpredictable and frustrating to go up against.
What are your thoughts on the potential to see more up-tempo sets this year?