There’s only four games left in the 2020 season. With the Falcons dead in the water at 4-8 and a tough slate left to be played, the staff assembled to discuss changes we’d like to see over those final four, even if we’re all a bit dubious about changes any significant changes will be made.
You’ll find our thoughts below, and we welcome yours in the comments.
Fire Koetter, start some rookies
With only 4 games left, it may seem like the team should just ride it out with Dirk. However, we’re now at the point that his play calling and offensive design is so bad that players appear to be giving up entirely. Firing Dirk would send the message that the recent performances are unacceptable no matter the direction of the season. I don’t know that Greg Knapp is going to come in and light it up, but god knows he can’t possible be worse (yes, I realize I may end up regretting those words).
Likewise, it’s time to see what some of our young guys can do. Why not give Gono meaningful snaps at left guard? Let’s see Matt Hennessey take some snaps at center. Put Jaylinn Hawkins in at safety for a longer look. Hell, try Isaiah Oliver at safety if you really want to toss things up. Let’s get these guys some opportunities to get real NFL snaps ahead of 2021. The season is lost, but maybe some of these guys can be a bright spot as we close out this dismal, depressing season. - David Walker
Shuffle the offensive staff, prioritize the immediate future
The abrupt firing of Gregg Williams would give the Falcons some cover if they wanted to move on from Dirk Koetter, who isn’t to blame for 100% of this team’s offensive struggles but sure does seem to be behind a lot of them. I don’t think Atlanta’s actually interested in firing Koetter when all is said and done, so while I think it’s a move that makes a lot of sense for this team, I’m not actually expecting it. I don’t see how the offense could stagnate further under Greg Knapp.
I fully recognize that the Falcons aren’t amenable to prioritizing playing time for young players just to get them snaps—Justin McCray starting at left guard this past week is proof enough of that—but I’m hopeful we’ll see some opportunities for Jaeden Graham, Marlon Davidson, Mykal Walker, Jordan Miller and Jaylinn Hawkins, among others, in the final four games. Those players have a strong chance of being contributors in 2021 and beyond and the season is lost, so even limited snaps would be nice to see. I’m not under any illusions of rapid improvements over the final four weeks, but change for the sake of trying to get this offense performing again and for the sake of looking at future contributors would be welcome. - Dave Choate
Give the reigns to... Greg Knapp
How far we have fallen. If you need more proof the NFL is cyclical, I want the Falcons to fire the offensive coordinator they let go after 2014 for the offensive coordinator they let go after 2006. Can Knapp be worse than Koetter? It would be tough. Either way, I think we need better film on these players to make decisions for the future. Imagine drafting a quarterback of the future because your current quarterback looks bad under Koetter. - Matt Chambers
See what you have with your young players
I’ll echo what DW and Dave said in that this team needs to play its young potential contributors as much as possible. Any meager hope for a playoff berth was buried with this past defeat against the Saints (a win would’ve actually had the team just one game back of the final Wildcard spot in the NFC). It’s time to see what this team truly has with the likes of Marlon Davidson, Matt Gono, Matt Hennessy, Jaylinn Hawkins and even Chris Rowland as a potential return man (we already know that AJ Terrell is legit). This is the time for a little bit of baptism by fire when the pressure to win is no longer existent.
The issue is that this lame duck coaching staff will likely prioritize playing veterans at the expense of young players to try and win and showcase themselves for employment opportunities around the league next year (not that I wouldn’t be doing the same if I were in their shoes). It may require a call from the top to emphasize getting the rookies their playing time.
Playing for pride and winning meaningless games down the stretch will get this team nowhere, like how it did the past two seasons. If going with a youth movement which allows young players to make and work through their mistakes ends up costing the Falcons a win or two down the stretch then all the better — that will at least preserve a high end draft pick. - Adnan Ikic