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'It's built to win': Kevin Koger on why he joined Falcons staff to coach tight ends

Kevin Koger gave his initial impressions on members of the Falcons tight ends room last Thursday during his introductory media availability. 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Kevin Koger strongly believed he is the right man to lead the Atlanta Falcons tight ends.

Perhaps that confidence is part of the reason why he got the job officially on Feb. 2, as Falcons head coach Raheem Morris continues to solidify his 2024 staff.

Nearly two weeks after the fact, Koger remains firm in that belief, especially when highlighting areas in which the position group can improve this season.

"I really think it comes in the run game, being a group that we can run the football behind," Koger said last Thursday. "I think there's a lot of room for development there, and there's no better person for the job than myself to help those guys get there. And we will get there. Because that's the standard and the expectation for this room."

Koger comes to Atlanta from the Los Angeles Chargers, where he held the same title for three years. He joined the NFL coaching ranks in 2019. He played for Michigan as a tight end from 2008-11, compiling nine touchdowns, 59 catches and 756 yards receiving throughout his career, which saw two bowl game appearances.

His background as a tight end himself is where Koger's conviction stems from when it comes to being able to successfully mentor the Falcons position group.

"They need a guy they can relate to," Koger said. "I'm not too far removed from where they've been. Did I play in the NFL? I did not. But I did play at a high level. I did play at the University of Michigan, so I know what a high level of football looks like from a playing standpoint. I've been in the NFL now going on, whatever it is, Year 6. So, again, I've seen a lot of football. I've seen a lot of good players, been around a lot of good players, some really great coaches. I know what it looks like. I know those guys are capable of doing it."

Those guys would possibly consist of Kyle Pitts, Jonnu Smith, MyCole Pruitt, John FitzPatrick and Tucker Fisk. Obviously, the solidified 53-man roster won't be determined until August, and even then, it can ebb and flow through the season. But those are the options in Atlanta from 2023.

Atlanta Falcons tight ends coach Kevin Koger is interviewed by media during a press conference in Flowery Branch, Georgia, on Thursday, February 15, 2024. (Photo by Amanda Valle/Atlanta Falcons)

Pitts led the tight ends last season with 53 receptions for 667 yards and three touchdowns. Smith followed with 50 receptions for 582 yards and three touchdowns. Pruitt had nine receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown, while Fisk and FitzPatrick combined for two receptions for 21 yards.

Last Thursday’s roundtable from the assistants’ introductory media availability hit on what Koger thinks of Pitts already — hint: highly — so allow Koger to address the other members of the crew now.

"Jonnu is special with the ball in his hands," Koger said. "Rarely does the first guy tackle Jonnu to the ground. That's a skill you really can't coach. That's a skill that's God given. So, that's exciting about Jonnu.

"MyCole, he does a great job at the line of scrimmage. At the point of attack, he's strong. He's a veteran, he knows who he is. He knows how to play the game of football, he's knowledgeable.

"And then, Fitzy. He didn't have a whole lot of snaps last year. But I'm excited for him and his development and him being able to help out."

The Falcons could always bring in new names, too, via the draft or free agency. But Koger is well aware his list of tight ends is already lengthy. That's one of the many reasons he chose to move across the country for this opportunity in Atlanta.

"Obviously the talent that they have — not only in the tight end room but on offense, defense and special teams — all of that, it's built to win," Koger said. "That's something I want to be a part of."

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