With a chuckle, new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said the biggest challenge he's had with his offense this offseason and minicamp has come from defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.
"The main competition is coming from Coach Nolan's defense," he said. "They're getting after us pretty good with their blitz packages."
But to defeat an offense with the weapons Atlanta has, blitz packages are necessary. The Falcons and quarterback Matt Ryan are likely to see a lot of that in the coming season. The onus will be on the offensive line to keep Ryan upright and looking down the field. A team can only run the ball so much and this offseason head coach Mike Smith has said running the ball will remain a priority, but on a more by-committee basis.
Koetter brings a history of a passing offense that stretches the field vertically and horizontally. The Falcons are stocked on offense. Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez and Michael Turner are the biggest names, but Harry Douglas, Kerry Meier, Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling all figure to play roles, as well.
During Atlanta's open afternoon minicamp practice on Tuesday, the passing game was on full display, from the short to the deep. Screens were dispersed among a practice game plan that also featured down-field passes. Koetter thinks he's blessed with a problem many coordinators would love to that.
"We do have a lot of weapons and only one football," he said. "How that shakes out, Matt (Ryan) has confidence in all the guys he's working with. We have a lot of guys that can make plays. If you were out here (Tuesday) you saw a bunch of different guys making big plays. That's actually a good problem to have."
Just as the Falcons' defense under Nolan plans to feature only tweaks, the same can be said for the Falcons' offense under Koetter. With all the names on the offensive side of the ball, the most weapons Koetter has ever had as a coach, the offense will be about what each name does best and putting players in positions to make the plays necessary to score points.
"You're always going to taper what you do scheme-wise to fit the strengths of the players," Koetter said. "You're going to play to your strengths and hide your weaknesses."