Transition to New Offense Going Smoothly


NFL teams rarely come right out and say what they're going to do.

Today's NFL is a league full of secrets and mystery, all in the name of gaining any competitive edge that can be found. This offseason the Falcons introduced a new offensive coordinator and the safe assumption is that things will change.

Just how much is what the mystery is and what everyone wants to know.

So far, we've learned the screen game will be a factor—a potentially big one—in 2012. Head coach Mike Smith has said running back Michael Turner's carries may be lower than in recent years and obviously Julio Jones' second year in the league is highly anticipated.

Beyond all that, what else can be expected this season?

New offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has a history of experience with the vertical pass, a weapon that suits what Atlanta has at its disposal on offense. Turner said he doesn't know what having his carries monitored will mean, but he still views his job as unchanged. However, he offered a hint about the passing game.

"I mean playing running back is playing running back," he said. "I get the tough yards, get some explosive plays. There might be a little more passing than normal than what Falcons fans are used to. You've just got to be ready when your name is called."

The early reports from the players are that the installment of the new offense is going well. Everyone is spending the OTAs getting to know each other and the terminology of the new offense, but anyone expecting huge differences in Atlanta's offense over the last four years and this upcoming year's version may be in for a rude awakening.

Smith said after Wednesday's OTA practice that what he's excited most about this year's offense is the competition he and the coaching staff have helped create with new additions, especially on the offensive line. Otherwise, many parts of the offense will remain as they have with better execution.

"I think I like the way our guys are working," Smith said. "We've obviously changed some things from last year. Probably more is being the same than is being changed. I like some of the subtle changes that we've seen. I like the competition that we've created on the offensive line. It's going to be a very competitive rest of the offseason and training camp. Competition is a very good thing."

In an effort to make the transition to Koetter's offense as seamless as possible, the coaching staff has worked hard to ensure the terminology is the same or similar as what they've used in the past. The theory is that this will allow everyone to learn quickly what they're already familiar with as well as what is changing. So far the process has worked out well.

"They've adjusted their schemes and terminology to what we were doing and fitting in," center Todd McClure said. "It's been an easy adjustment for us."

As the OTAs move into training camp, everyone will start to see just what kind of adjustments the Falcons have made.

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