Former Falcons offensive coordinator Greg Knapp dies from injuries

Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp works with Matt Ryan during team practice on Tuesday, June 5, 2018, in Flowery Branch.
Caption
Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp works with Matt Ryan during team practice on Tuesday, June 5, 2018, in Flowery Branch.

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

Former Falcons offensive coordinator Greg Knapp died Thursday as a result of injuries suffered in a bicycle accident Saturday. He was 58.

Knapp’s agent Jeff Sperbeck confirmed the news to Mike Klis on Denver television’s 9NEWS. The Falcons also confirmed the news.

“Today at 11:32 am PST, Greg Knapp (aka Knapper) was called back home to Heaven, where he will be reunited with his Dad,” Sperbeck said, via a tweet from Klis.

Knapp was struck by a car in California and was in critical condition.

Knapp coached in the NFL for 23 seasons with seven teams, including two stints with the Falcons. He served as offensive coordinator from 2004-06 and quarterbacks coach from 2018-20. He helped the Falcons get to the NFC title game with Michael Vick at quarterback after the 2004 regular season.

A statement from Falcons owner Arthur Blank read: “On behalf of the entire Atlanta Falcons organization, I extend our deepest condolences to the family and many friends of Coach Greg Knapp and wish them peace at this very difficult time. He was a tremendous football coach who achieved at the highest levels of our game, but more importantly he was a wonderful person who had the love, admiration and respect of those who were blessed to work with him. He was always a positive presence with the Falcons and carried that optimistic spirit with him each day while working with our coaches, players and staff on and off the field. He will be deeply missed.”

Knapp most recently was the passing-game specialist for the Jets. He also worked for the Broncos, 49ers, Raiders, Seahawks and Texans. He was one of several Falcons assistants not retained with the hire of new coach Arthur Smith before Knapp joined the Jets.

The Broncos issued a statement that read, in part: “We’re heartbroken by the sudden, tragic passing of former Broncos QB Coach Greg Knapp. We will all remember ‘Knapper’ for his kindness, humor and fun-loving approach to life. We’re sending our deepest condolences to the entire Knapp family.”

Clancy Barone, the Bears tight ends coach, called Knapp his best friend in the coaching profession. He posted on Twitter: “Great friend for 40 years. College teammate. Best friend in the coaching profession. We always made sure our lockers were next to each other during our coaching journey ... including 2 Super Bowls!!! Knapper … one of a kind in more ways than we can count. Rest In Peace.”

Knapp was hit in the city of San Ramon, in the San Francisco Bay Area, on Saturday.

The accident occurred around 3 p.m., and the driver involved was cooperating with the investigation. A preliminary investigation showed drugs or alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the crash, Lt. Tami Williams of the San Ramon Police Department told The Associated Press.

Knapp, who lived in the neighboring city of Danville, was hired by the Jets in January as part of new coach Robert Saleh’s staff. He was to serve as the pass-game specialist and help develop rookie quarterback Zach Wilson like he did many other quarterbacks in the NFL, including Michael Vick and Matt Schaub for the Falcons.

Knapp was well-liked and respected around the NFL. He ran the quarterback workouts at the combine for the past 20-plus years and was always willing to help the media covering the teams he coached.

Knapp, who previously had worked with Steve Young and Jeff Garcia in San Francisco, showed Vick and Schaub the NFL ropes.

“He had a real defined plan for how to teach young quarterbacks how to be a pro,” Schaub said in January after he retired. “How to go through reads. Read with our feet. Go through a progression. Identify defenses. I think it’s one of his strongest attributes, being able to prepare someone to play in the game.

“Just cut out the information that isn’t important. What you don’t need to know and really focus on the vital things to help you be successful. That’s what he did for me when I was getting opportunities in the (exhibition) season and when things happened and (Vick) couldn’t be on the field and I had to step in.”

Knapp was Schaub’s quarterbacks coach in Houston for two seasons and then with the Falcons for the past three seasons.

“He was instrumental in my development as a young player,” Schaub said. “So, of my 17 years, eight of those years I had the same coach sitting with the clicker in the room coaching me. He’s like my football dad. He says I’m his football son.

“Not many people can say they’ve had a coach, a position coach at that, for that many years. So, I was definitely fortunate for the relationship that we’ve had and the bond that we’ve created over all of these years.”

After playing at Sacramento State, Knapp coached there for nine seasons.

In 1997, Knapp was hired by San Francisco as an offensive quality control coach under Steve Mariucci. Two years later he was promoted to quarterbacks coach and after a couple of more seasons he became the offensive coordinator in 2001.

When Jim Mora was named coach of the Falcons in 2004, Knapp joined the staff as offensive coordinator.

He was the offensive coordinator for Oakland (2007-08 and 2012) and Seattle (2009). He also had stints as the quarterbacks coach for Houston (2010-11), Denver (2013-16) — where he helped Peyton Manning set single-season passing records in 2013 — and most recently the Falcons again (2018-20).

Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp works with quarterbacks Kurt Benkert (from left), Matt Ryan, Garrett Grayson, and Matt Schaub during team practice on Tuesday, June 5, 2018, in Flowery Branch.
Caption
Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp works with quarterbacks Kurt Benkert (from left), Matt Ryan, Garrett Grayson, and Matt Schaub during team practice on Tuesday, June 5, 2018, in Flowery Branch.

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

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