The transition to the 2019 season always happens rather quickly, and it begins with coaching changes. The Falcons have already announced intentions to interview a couple of candidates for their offensive coordinator vacancy and will be considering several others. Here’s everything you need to know about some of the coaches that will be on the top of the Falcons wish list.
In 2006, Bevell was hired by Brad Childress to be the offensive coordinator of the Vikings. It wasn’t exactly a pretty job with the likes of Brad Johnson and Tavaris Jackson as the two quarterbacks under center. They combined for 11 touchdowns and 19 interceptions as the Vikings finished 23rd in total offense in Bevell’s first season.
The quarterback situation didn’t get much better until 2009, but Bevell was still able to put up decent production behind the legs of Adrian Peterson. In 2007, they had the number one ranked rushing offense, and in 2008 they finished fifth in that category.
2009 was perhaps Bevell’s most successful offense to date. He finally found a quarterback when the Vikings signed Brett Favre. Even though Favre was at the tail-end of his career, the two enjoyed his final rodeo by finishing fifth in total offense and second in points and were just a hair shy of beating the Saints to earn a trip to the Super Bowl.
Bevell was hand picked by Pete Carroll to run the Seahawks offense in 2011. At that time, the Seattle offense was nothing compared to what we think about it today. In 2012, Bevell was integral in selecting Wilson, and the two become synonymous in Seattle, going to two Super Bowls and winning one of them. Of course, they are also related to perhaps the worst call in Super Bowl history, when Russell Wilson was intercepted on the one-yard line instead of handing the ball off to Marshawn Lynch.
That shouldn’t be the play that defines Bevell’s career though.
During those two Super Bowl runs the defensive coordinator was Dan Quinn. Quinn took the Atlanta job in 2015, and the two have maintained a relationship ever since. Bevell went on to be the Seahawks defensive coordinator through the 2017 season. He was replaced around this time last year by Brian Schottenheimer.
Before the start of the 2018 season, Bevell served in an advisory role for the Falcons. If you remember, Steve Sarkisian had a similar role prior to being handed the reigns to the Atlanta offense two years ago. This allowed Bevell to become familiar with the team and the playbook.
Although Bevell might not be known for having a bunch of high flying offenses, he hasn’t exactly been blessed with the most favorable situations. In Atlanta, he will step into an offense with an MVP quarterback, a stable of wide receivers headlined by Julio Jones, a Pro-Bowl running back, and hopefully, a revamped offensive line. He’s never had anything like that before.
One thing is for sure; wherever Bevell goes, he finds success running the football. His offenses have been in the top five in rushing six of his eleven years and finished with the most rushing yards twice. That’s something the Falcons will hold in high regard as they finished 31st in rushing this season, which hindered the overall success of this offense even with Matt Ryan having one of the best seasons of his career.
According to D. Orlando Ledbetter, former Tampa Bay head coach and Falcons offensive coordinator, Dirk Koetter, is the “frontrunner” to take over the OC position for Atlanta. He is scheduled to interview with the Falcons on Saturday, first reported by Vaughn Mcclure of ESPN.
Koetter was the offensive coordinator for the Jaguars from 2007-2011 before being hired by Mike Smith to the same position for the Falcons. His first year with the Jags was his best by a mile, as they finished 7th in total offense and 6th in points per game. The following years weren’t nearly as efficient, falling all the way to 32nd in total offense in 2011 with Blaine Gabbert at quarterback.
In 2012, he took the offensive coordinator in Atlanta to reunite with Mike Smith, who was a defensive coordinator in Jacksonville before taking the head coaching job for the Falcons. He immediately reaped the benefits of going from Blaine Gabbert to Matt Ryan, finishing top ten in total offense two out his three years with the birds.
Under Koetter, Matt Ryan had some of his most successful seasons, throwing for 32, 28 and 26 touchdowns and reached two Pro-Bowls.
After the 2014 season, Koetter was relieved along with Mike Smith and took the offensive coordinator job for the Buccaneers. A year later, the Bucs offered him the head coaching position after finishing 5th in total offense. While his Buccaneers showed promise in his three years, especially on offense, Koetter could never get over the hump and make it into the playoffs, which led to his recent firing.
Last year, the Bucs finished third in total offense.
Koetter may not have the makeup to be a head coach in the NFL quite yet, or ever for that matter, but there’s no denying his ability to put up numbers offensively. Matt Ryan is comfortable with him, and it will be a much smoother transition, which is what the Falcons are looking for with so much talent on the offensive side of the ball. He also wouldn’t be just another coach trying to emulate Kyle Shanahan’s system.
Kubiak might be the best option the Falcons have available. Although, it’s unknown how realistic Kubiak returning to the sidelines for a team other than the Broncos is.
With that being said, several reports have suggested that Kubiak may do so if the right situation arises. It’s hard to imagine a better place for him to make his return than Atlanta. We’ve already talked about their abundance of talent on offense, but we’ve also seen how explosive they can be when properly utilizing the West Coast offense.
Kubiak was one of the coaches to make the West Coast offense popular. He studied it from Mike Shanahan when Kubiak was the quarterback’s coach of the 49ers. There he helped turn Steve Young into an MVP quarterback and later win a Super Bowl.
He would follow Shanahan to the Broncos in 1995, where he would coach John Elway to two Super Bowls over ten seasons as their OC before becoming the head coach of the Houston Texans. At the time, Houston was a new franchise that had never reached the playoffs. Kubiak changed the offense and turned them into a team to be reckoned with, winning back-to-back AFC South titles in 2011 and 2012. He even turned Falcons backup quarterback, Matt Schaub, into a Pro-Bowler.
Kubiak’s most recent stint as an OC came in 2014 with the Baltimore Ravens, and that might be the most exceptional work of his stellar career. He turned Joe Flacco into a high-quality quarterback, something he has not been since. Justin Forsett became a Pro-Bowler, rushing for over 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns in his patented zone blocking scheme. Forsett never ran for over 700 yards in any other year of his career and was out of the league by 2016.
The last time we saw Kubiak, he was the head coach of the Denver Broncos, where he won another Super Bowl in 2015. Health issues have prevented him from continuing to coach, but he may do better in a less intensive role. There’s no doubt Kubiak would be an A+ hire, but convincing him to leave Denver and return to the sidelines may be an impossible task.