ATLANTA – For the fourth time in Matt Ryan’s career, the Atlanta Falcons have made a change at offensive coordinator. Unlike the previous three changes, however, the Falcons are bringing back someone who Ryan has worked with directly.
Dirk Koetter, who served as the Falcons’ offensive coordinator from 2012-14, was named to the role following the 2018 season, replacing Steve Sarkisian who spent two years in Atlanta.
“It’s hard,” Ryan told “The Front Row” on 680 The Fan Tuesday morning of the team moving on from Sarkisian. “I felt like I had a really good rapport with Sark, and he did a nice job for us. But, as a head coach, you feel like you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, and I respect that with Dan. He felt like he needed to make moves in order for us to be better.
“I’m excited to work with Dirk Koetter again, it felt like my time spent with him early in my career was really productive. I’ve learned a lot since then, and I think we both can be better as we move forward. But, it’s one of the parts of the job that sucks, for sure. Letting people go and having new people come in and turnover, but it’s a part of this business and you have to deal with it.”
In his three seasons working with Koetter, Ryan completed 67.4 percent of his passes for 13,928 yards with 86 touchdowns and 45 interceptions. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2012 and 2014, and Ryan led the Falcons to the NFC Championship Game in 2012.
During the two seasons Sarkisian was the Falcons’ offensive coordinator, Ryan completed 67.2 percent of his passes for 9,019 yards with 55 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.
Under Dan Quinn, the Falcons have been insistent on maintaining their offensive scheme and asked that Sarkisian adjust to the terminology and style run in Atlanta rather than overhaul things in his own fashion. According to Ryan, that may also be the plan with Koetter.
“I think the terminology is going to stay the same of what we’ve been using the last four years,” Ryan said. “So it will be an adjustment for him, in terms of the terminology. But, this is the same thing that happened the last time I worked with Dirk – We were in the same system with Mike Mularkey and Dirk came in and adjusted to the terminology we were using. So I know he’s really good with that and won’t have an issue at all with how we do things. But, like anything there will be different influences in there and what he calls and what he likes in certain situations, how he uses guys will be different.”
The Falcons have one of the most versatile and complete group of skill position players in the NFL. Just a few years removed from boasting one of the highest-scoring offenses in league history, it’s clear Atlanta doesn’t want to make a drastic change.
If Koetter is comfortable with learning the Falcons’ terminology and making slight adjustments, Ryan says that should help the players perform at their peak level on Sundays.
“Most of the schemes in this league are really similar, it’s just how you call things, how you word things. I think the benefit for the players, and we have a lot of guys that are back, with not changing that language is it’s just easier for you out on the field. Things operate faster, so I’m excited about that.”