Fal­cons to seek bet­ter bal­ance with re­newed em­pha­sis on run

Ledger-Enquirer - - Front page - BY CHARLES ODUM

AT­LANTA

Dan Quinn is look­ing for a re­newed com­mit­ment to the At­lanta Fal­cons run­ning game and of­fen­sive bal­ance with new co­or­di­na­tor Dirk Koet­ter.

The Fal­cons’ out­side zone scheme won’t change, though Quinn on Thurs­day said Koet­ter and the re­vamped of­fen­sive staff will bring new tweaks to the play­book.

Quinn has made a dra­matic over­haul of his coach­ing staff fol­low­ing a dis­ap­point­ing 7-9 fin­ish. He fired each of his three co­or­di­na­tors while an­nounc­ing he will take over the de­fense.

On Tues­day, Quinn brought back two for­mer Fal­cons of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tors when he hired Koet­ter to di­rect the of­fense and Mike Mu­larkey as tight ends coach.

Quinn said Koet­ter, the for­mer Tampa Bay coach, won’t to­tally re­make the of­fense.

“The sys­tems will stay very sim­i­lar,” Quinn said. “The vi­sion will cer­tainly stay very sim­i­lar in how we want to play ball. The way we go about ex­e­cut­ing that and find dif­fer­ent ways to fea­ture guys, that will have some change to it.”

The Fal­cons lacked of­fen­sive bal­ance this sea­son, re­ly­ing too heav­ily on a pass­ing game led by quar­ter­back Matt Ryan, re­ceivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ri­d­ley and tight end Austin Hooper.

At­lanta ranked sixth in to­tal of­fense but only 27th in rush­ing. Those num­bers were af­fected by sea­son-end­ing in­juries suf­fered by run­ning back Devonta Free­man and start­ing guards Andy Le­vitre and Bran­don Fusco.

Quinn said he was im­pressed by Koet­ter’s suc­cess fea­tur­ing run­ning backs Doug Martin in Tampa Bay and Mau­rice JonesDrew in Jack­sonville, where Koet­ter was of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor from 2007 to 2011.

“Hav­ing that kind of bal­ance, Dirk and I both agree, is the best way to at­tack and is the best way to fea­ture the guys on our team,” Quinn said.

Ex­pect to see more car­ries for Fal­cons run­ning backs in 2019.

“The thing I think for us to get back from an iden­tity stand­point is the amount of run at­tempts,” Quinn said, adding he likes the way “we at­tack” through the air.

“What I’d like to make sure is we can fea­ture … the run game” to make play-ac­tion passes more ef­fec­tive.

“We’re go­ing to work re­ally hard at that,” he said, adding “That will be a big part of our iden­tity, not just this year but for years to come.”

Quinn an­nounced new roles for some as­sis­tants. Kyle Flood, who had been as­sis­tant of­fen­sive line coach, will have a new se­nior as­sis­tant po­si­tion. Quinn said “a big part of his role” will be as­sist­ing with clock man­age­ment and re­play de­ci­sions on the side­line.

Also, Dave Brock will coach run­ning backs in­stead of wide re­ceivers. Bernie Par­malee, who had been run­ning backs coach, will as­sist new spe­cial teams co­or­di­na­tor Ben Kotwica , who was hired from Wash­ing­ton on Wed­nes­day.

Koet­ter and Mu­larkey will be re­new­ing re­la­tion­ships with Ryan. Mu­larkey was Ryan’s first of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor in 2008-11 un­der for­mer coach Mike Smith. Koet­ter di­rected the Fal­cons’ of­fense from 2012 to 2014.

Quinn said that fa­mil­iar­ity will help the tran­si­tion in 2019.

“I do be­lieve a past re­la­tion­ship of work­ing to­gether can pay off,” Quinn said, adding Koet­ter and Mu­larkey have talked with Ryan and other play­ers.

Quinn said “more than two or three” can­di­dates were in­ter­viewed be­fore Koet­ter and Mu­larkey were hired. He said Ryan was not con­sulted dur­ing the in­ter­views.

JOHN AMIS AP

Now-for­mer Buc­ca­neers head coach Dirk Koet­ter, left, talks with Fal­cons head coach Dan Quinn af­ter their Oct. 14 game in At­lanta. The Buc­ca­neers fired Koet­ter af­ter the sea­son, and Quinn brought him back as of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor.

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