When Arthur Smith came to Atlanta, the rampant speculation was that he would call his own plays as he did in Tennessee, with an offensive coordinator hire who would manage the offensive planning ahead of gameday. That’s exactly what happened with the hire of Bears passing game coordinator Dave Ragone, but today, he confirmed it.
In remarks to the media, Ragone made it clear what the division of labor will be for the offense, though I’m certain there will be some blurring of roles as the two get comfortable working together.
We're talking to new Falcons OC Dave Ragone and I asked him about his understanding of the dynamic between him and Arthur Smith as Smith will be the primary play caller: he said it's his job to set the table for Smith. I thought that was a very interesting metaphor.— Tori McElhaney (@tori_mcelhaney) January 27, 2021
With strategy and planning on his plate, Ragone said he’ll spend quite a bit of time figuring out both individual players and the offense as a whole to understand strengths and weaknesses, but that obviously the talent the Falcons can bring to bear was attractive when he was weighing taking the job.
New Falcons OC Dave Ragone says the offensive talent the Falcons have on the offensive side of the ball was a big draw, was a “no brainer” to join Arthur Smith’s team— Kelsey Conway (@FalconsKelsey) January 27, 2021
Ragone also talked up Matt Ryan, something we’ve also been seeing quite a bit of from Arthur Smith. That by itself doesn’t mean that Ryan is locked in to the starting job in Atlanta, but frankly we’ve all been assuming that is indeed the case for 2021, and it’s just another piece of evidence.
Ragone says Matt Ryan’s ability to compete on every down and have a “no quit” attitude are what stand out. He has a tremendous amount of respect for Matt— Kelsey Conway (@FalconsKelsey) January 27, 2021
There isn’t much that’s novel here, but it cements what we thought we knew about the arrangement here, and it’s a very different one than the Falcons are used to. Kyle Shanahan, Steve Sarkisian, and Dirk Koetter all appeared to have a ton of autonomy on offense, to the point where Raheem Morris championing Ito Smith as the starting running back late in the year appeared to raise Koetter’s hackles. Here, the head coach will be an offensive-minded one for the first time in many moons, and the offensive coordinator will not be calling plays but will be setting the table, as Ragone put it. If Ragone is good and Smith is as capable of a player caller as he proved to be in Tennessee, the uptick in production from Koetter to this coaching staff could be massive.
All of that is of course hopeful and speculative at the moment, but we’ll see how this partnership works going forward. If nothing else, an offensive-minded head coach focusing on fixing what has ailed this offense over the past few seasons will be very welcome.