FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – There were sure to be some changes with Dirk Koetter taking over the Falcons’ offense, and tight end Austin Hooper explained one of those changes on Wednesday.
During a player press conference with local media, Hooper shared that Atlanta’s passing offense would now be steps-based instead of depth-based.
What’s that mean? For starters, the timing between Matt Ryan and the team’s receivers is determined by a specific number of steps for each route as opposed to a specific landmark or distance of, say, 12 or 15 yards from the line of scrimmage.
“For example, on route X, I have my inside foot up (at the line of scrimmage),” Hooper said. “And I know once my third foot on my outside leg hits, I break. Just certain little things, instead of being depth-based it’s all just steps-based now. It’s just something new that I haven’t done before, so I’ve just got to work with Matt, and he’s been awesome.”
Hooper was named a Pro Bowler for the first time in his three-year career in 2018 after catching 71 passes for 660 yards and four touchdowns. As a unit, the Falcons’ offense had the fourth-most productive passing attack in the league, averaging 290.8 yards per game.
Now, there’s something new for the Falcons’ offense to adjust to under Koetter, as there was always certain to be. It may take time for the step-based timing to become second nature to some players, but the Falcons have an entire summer ahead.
“It might not sound like a big difference,” Hooper said. “But on certain routes, if you have one foot up and you get to the top (of the route) and you realize, ‘Oh, I have to take another two (steps) before I turn,’ and the ball is already in the air two steps ago. It’s just one of those things you have to keep working on.”
The Falcons began their offseason workout program on Monday, giving players the opportunity to start strength and conditioning at the team’s facility. Atlanta’s organized team activities will begin on May 20.