For the second time in three seasons, the Atlanta Falcons will take the field with a revamped coaching staff that will feature two new coordinators.
After the 2016 Atlanta Falcons season ended in a Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots, Dan Quinn announced that there were going to be some major coaching changes. Kyle Shanahan left to become the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers and former defensive coordinator Richard Smith was replaced; though as it turned out, Dan Quinn had taken over the defense after the bye week.
The last couple seasons saw Steve Sarkisian and wildly popular Marquand Manuel take over for the offense and defense respectively. Neither were able to get the Falcons back to where this team was at the end of 2016 and Dan Quinn had enough.
In comes former offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and head coach Dan Quinn has assumed the defensive coordinator duties both literally and figuratively.
So who has the tougher task ahead of them?
The Atlanta Falcons offense features one of the most potent attacks in the NFL today. An elite quarterback, the best trio of wide receiver’s in the game led by future hall of famer Julio Jones and a running backs group that, when healthy, will feature both lightning and thunder components. Most importantly, the offense will more than likely feature an offensive line that will have a former first round picks at each starting spot; which has never been seen in the NFL before. Of course, all of this baring an injury during training camp.
The Falcons defense will feature three pro bowlers, including the league’s best cover linebacker in Deion Jones as well as one of the best young defensive tackles in Grady Jarrett and a secondary that has been revamped with speed and ball hawking corners.
All of that said, Dirk Koetter has the toughest task ahead of him. While there is a familiarity with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, no other player on the Falcons offense was here during Koetter’s first run as the Falcons OC from 2012-2014.
Learning a new offense for anyone is difficult. An NFL playbook is anywhere from 600-900 pages and these guys are expected to have that completely memorized and ready to roll by the start of training camp. For many, this will be their second offense in three years. The unfamiliarity could have some of these guys playing with a level of uncertainty, which is never good.
The defensive guys know Dan Quinn, he has always had his hand in how things are run. They know the expectations and have a level of comfort with him at the helm. Their transition to what Quinn will run scheme wise will be an easy one and let’s not forget, Dan Quinn drafted the majority of the defense and already understands how to piece them together to get the best out of each.
Clearly Koetter has the tougher road ahead this season. With Matt Ryan at quarterback, he should be able to accelerate the learning curve that lies ahead. Having nearly 100 percent attendance this off season will also go a long way in making sure that the transition is as smooth as possible.