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Koetter, Hill Hitting Stride in Atlanta

Every season in the NFL teams are dealing with many new things. In 2008 the Falcons experienced new in franchise-altering ways with the arrival of Mike Smith, Thomas Dimitroff and Matt Ryan, among others.

Last season's newness came in the form of new coordinators and a few new coaches.

This season there are a few new faces expected to fill major roles like Steven Jackson and Osi Umenyiora. Other new faces to the starting lineup could include backups like Mike Johnson or Lamar Holmes.

Change is part of the game, but even changes become the norm after a while and that's the case for last season's new faces. Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and offensive line coach Pat Hill were new additions to the staff last year, but this season they've got a season under their belt and far less adjusting to deal with.

Hill, who is coaching Johnson, Holmes and a few other new starters on the offensive line, said the experience of last season will only make him a better coach this season.

"I hadn't been in pro football for 15 years," Hill said. "I got back here and it took me a while to catch on. It's experience. I feel this year I'll be able to help in game time and help (offensive line coach) Paul (Dunn) on the field a lot better than I did last year. It's just experience. It's the same for coaches as it is players. You can not discredit what experience does for you."

Koetter said last season quarterback Matt Ryan was teaching him the playbook when things began and a season into his time with the Falcons has given him signifacantly more comfort concerning the ins and outs of the players on his portion of the roster and their ability to accomplish what's in that playbook. Like Hill, Koetter thinks all the experiences from last season for the coaching staff, especially the newcomers, will come in handy in Year 2.

"I was the new guy last year so I'm a lot more comfortable this year," Koetter said. "Knowing the players and knowing what we are and what we have and what we can be are all good things. I think we can get better and we have a lot of areas where we can get better. It's definitely better for me. I can communicate better with the players. Now that I've been in games with these guys we can point to situations that came up last year and how we have to get better in those certain situations as they come up. I do think we can improve and we've got a good group of guys to do it."

A season of seasoning as the Falcons coordinator didn't just make Koetter more comfortable in the role and with the roster of players. It also helped him see the potential and he sounds like he's looking forward to unleashing some of his newfound experience and new players on the rest of the NFL.

"Now that I've been in the game with these guys and our staff has stayed together, I know what to expect out of our players," Koetter said. "I have very high expectations."

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