clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Is Dirk Koetter safe?

The much-discussed play caller for the Atlanta Falcons may be staring at a hot seat 2020 season.

Los Angeles Rams v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

A crucial season lies ahead for many in the Falcons organization and many eyes will be on how the offense executes under veteran play caller Dirk Koetter.

Transitioning positions within a coaching staff is never easy. From moving on from a position coach who needs more seasoning to hiring a complete new face to guide the team, there is always a calculated risk behind it.

The Atlanta Falcons decided to take that gamble after the 2018 season by moving on from former offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. By doing that, they bet more on familiarity with the offensive personnel instead of the element of continuity of scheme and so forth. That bet gave them one Dirk Koetter.

In case anyone needs a quick refresher, Koetter was the offensive coordinator for the Falcons during 2012-14. With Koetter roaming the sidelines, the Falcons produced two top-8 offenses and two top-12 scoring units. If there was a play caller that Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has been “in sync” with, it was probably Koetter.

During his stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers between 2015-18, Koetter was linked to three offenses that were ranked ninth or better in overall offense. So yes, a quick glance at Koetter’s line of work would provide plenty of positive outlooks.

Atlanta Falcons v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

But there is one factor that is always interesting about the sport of football: That it’s almost always about more than what a surface level view tells you. While Koetter gets plenty of the praise for offensive achievements, I for one believe it’s fair to say that Koetter has not always moved the needle when it comes to executing his responsibility.

This past season for the Falcons on offense is a definite example. Yes, the combination of Ryan and receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley for the most part elevated the Falcons offense to fifth overall in the league. But once again, Koetter showed how easily he neglects a unit’s run game. His overall rushing rankings in his last eight offenses: 30th, 29th, 27th, 24th, 5th, 24th, 32nd, 29th.

Granted, a down year for the Falcons in the rushing department coincided with the inconsistent offensive line play and the factor of the team playing from behind fairly often. Yet, for a squad with plenty of winning talent, the Falcons offense still failed to truly apply pressure on defenses as they did in recent seasons.

So it makes absolute complete sense to identify the possible root of the issue, which in my opinion is the guy in charge of the offense itself. As the regime under Dan Quinn enters season number six, it is seasonal charge that is without a doubt on high alert. A 1-7 start last season ignited rumors of mid-season terminations on the sideline and the front office. You really could not fault Quinn for relying on the current placement of coaches with his job security pieced together by glue and scotch tape at the moment.

Could Quinn justifiably place his bets on a fourth offensive coordinator since 2016 to turn things around in a crucial season? Which, depending on your desired perspective, makes Koetter’s responsibility this upcoming season equally as vital. There is more than enough talent for the Falcons to put up points and create offensive fireworks, but it all depends on Koetter, and his job security and the job security of the staff around him is anything but secure.