Falcons: Analytics tell the story of Dirk Koetter’s failure

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I’ve been one of Dirk Koetter’s biggest critics. I thought he had potential when he initially replaced Steve Sarkisian, but it is now obvious he made no adjustments over the offseason. I always call his play-calling predictable and vanilla. For the most part, people that watch the games generally agree. It only takes the simple eye test to come to that conclusion. I’ve never had many concrete numbers to back up my claims, but boy, oh boy — Atlanta fans got some gems this past week.






Look at the teams at the top of these metrics. Chiefs, Seahawks, Ravens, Rams, Packers, Bills, Steelers…. all teams that are… REALLY GOOD? It’s almost like pre-snap motion is effective in confusing the defense and creating mismatches.

It’s hilarious that the Jets and Falcons are at the bottom of these metrics, and they’re both 31st and 32nd in win probability. As terrible as Atlanta’s defense is, the offense has covered a lot of their deficiencies. It’s not because the coaching is good — the talent is so elite they mask these shortcomings. So let’s sum up what we’re looking at here:


  1. Dirk Koetter loves to run on first down, slamming Todd Gurley into the butt of Chris Lindstrom or James Carpenter and pick up little to no yardage.
  3. There’s no pre-snap motion, no window dressing. If wide receivers don’t win at the line, Matt is running for his life.


I mean, do the Falcons think opposing teams don’t pick up on this stuff? I truly don’t understand. Is Koetter this lazy? This ignorant? Look at the Cowboys, they score a ton of points, but it’s because all of their games are track meets.

Forget the passing game, why is the outside zone abandoned so quickly — it’s the only run concept that’s worked so far. If you’re so hellbent on running the ball on first down (which multiple analytics show isn’t a great idea), mix it up. Try a sweep to Gage; he’s a speed demon. Brian Hill has been good and virtually ignored. You can’t just blindly run up the middle with Gurley behind this O-Line and expect to consistently win. This isn’t college football. 

In addition, how difficult is it to adjust a formation for tight ends to motion and chip block? Koetter loves to throw to Luke Stocker for some reason. Use him for what he’s here for. I’d rather Gono and Stocker come out to block and make it clear it’s going to be a run than keep forcing inside zone in one of Koetter’s, what, six formations? We’ve seen the toss and outside zone work with Brian Hill, but it is continually an afterthought in the gameplan.

The passing game is also unbelievably lazy. Hayden Hurst is a walking mismatch. Use him to get a linebacker on the boundary and open the middle of the field — the lack of Hurst’s utilization is probably the most maddening. 

Not scheming Julio Jones open is equally as egregious. Get him in the slot to create a mismatch with a nickel corner or feed Hurst over the middle to draw the safety help off of him. Motion Gage for a sweep to draw the defense’s eyes. DO SOMETHING! 

Nothing has changed since Week 1 last season against Minnesota when the Falcons mustered 12 points in the 4th quarter of a 28 point blowout. I’ve never coached a day in my life, haven’t put on a helmet since high school, and I can tell how basic these principles Koetter idolizes are.

I can’t wait for a new coaching staff. It’s infuriating at this point. Here’s my Friday Falcons piece on my head coaching hire wish list. Offensive coordinators will be coming tomorrow. Eric Bieniemy, please save us. I’d love to watch that patented double play-action to Hurst over the middle.

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