Koetter Striving to Find End Zone 60 Percent of the Time

Koetter Striving to Find End Zone 60 Percent of the Time

Jay Adams

Published July 10, 2012 at 9:00 AM

AtlantaFalcons.com’s Five Questions series with the Falcons assistant coaches continues today with offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, who comes into his first year in Atlanta with a wealth of talent at his disposal and a chance to turn the Falcons into a highly potent, high-scoring team that is focused on putting up points in the red zone.

Jay Adams: During these stages of the offseason, do you get a sense of where things stand at the positions as we head into training camp?

Dirk Koetter: One of Coach Smith’s main goals of minicamp and OTAs is to expose the team to everything they’re going to see in training camp, so they don’t have anything that they’re surprised by in training camp. I think ‘mission: accomplished’ on that. We exposed them to all the drills we’re going to use, all the situations we’re going to use, plays for situations, plays against different defenses — so from that standpoint, they’re progressing as they should be.

JA: When Coach Smith first approached you about the offensive coordinator position here, what did you think about the talent you’d have to work with?

DK: Well, from afar, obviously, it’s impressive. At Jacksonville, we had played Atlanta in the preseason. We had scrimmaged against Atlanta the last two years. At that time, I was probably more familiar with the personnel on defense than I was on offense, but I was impressed with the talent.

JA: You get a veteran quarterback in Matt Ryan, who has really progressed over the past few years. Now that you’ve been here a few months, what’s your assessment of where he is in his career?

DK: The thing that jumps out at me is Matt’s experience. He’s been game-tested, so he knows how fast things have to happen. You don’t have to go through that as you would, say, a rookie quarterback, and then Matt’s work ethic and leadership are the things that really jump out at me. He obviously has the skills to be here, or he wouldn’t be here, but the way he works on the field and off the field, in the classroom and in the weight room, and then his leadership — the way he sets the tone with the guys on offense — is what really jumps out at me.

JA: When you’ve got a combination like Roddy White and Julio Jones, does that change anything? Do you ever go back to the drawing board and figure something out just for them?

DK: Sure, it would be tempting to do that, but the defensive coordinators in the NFL, every play that’s ever been run, you’ve got guys that have seen it all — Mike Nolan on our staff, Coach Smith when he was a defensive coordinator. I think the thing, when you have top-flight receivers like we do, is that you don’t have to say it’s about trickery; it’s about execution, and when you have good guys, you just need to go out and be able to execute. It doesn’t have to be tricky plays, but basic plays, you’ve got guys that can win one-on-one.

JA: Throughout your pro career and college career, you’ve never been shy about putting points up on the board. The Falcons have, at times, dealt with stalling out in the red zone in recent years. What’s your approach to red-zone scoring and getting the ball where it obviously needs to be?

DK: In the NFL, if you follow it, when you get in the red zone, offensively your goal is to get 60 percent touchdowns inside the red zone. If you do that, you’re going to be top 5 in the NFL in touchdown scoring percentage. You’re not going to be able to score every time, but once you get down there, you want to finish with touchdowns, not settle for field goals, not turn it over. Your approach, your philosophy, building up to that, the plays that you use to attack the defenses that are up that week — that’s what you’re looking for: to try to have touchdowns on Sunday.

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