Koetter, the former Tampa Bay head coach, interviewed with the Falcons on Saturday. He would replace Steve Sarkisian, who was one of three Falcons coordinators fired after a 7-9 season. Koetter previously served as offensive coordinator with the Falcons from 2012-14 and worked with quarterback Matt Ryan.
Koetter was fired by Tampa Bay a day after losing to the Falcons in the regular-season finale. He was one of three known candidates to interview for the position, along with former Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and former Falcons offensive coordinator and Buffalo, Jacksonville and Tennessee head coach Mike Mularkey. The Falcons request to speak to Gary Kubiak was reportedly blocked by Denver.
Following the season, Falcons coach Dan Quinn said he was not looking to overhaul the entire offense.
“We're not having wholesale changes on how we play in terms of a system,” Quinn said last week. “Not only is it important for the players and the staff, but also for Thomas (Dimitroff) and his staff as well in terms of the players that we're scouting for, to fit the system. I think adaptability is probably the top factor going in.”
Koetter would have to adapt parts of his schemes. His adaptability and a relationship with Ryan were key. Koetter, considered the architect of the foundation of Boise State’s football success, worked well with Ryan in their three seasons.
The Falcons reached the NFC championship game after the 2012 season and built a 17-0 lead before the defense collapsed under the play of San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the second half.
In 2012 under Koetter, Ryan led the league in completion percentage at 68.9 percent. He threw for 32, 26 and 28 touchdowns with Koetter and went to two of his four Pro Bowls.
The Falcons miscalculated the talent along the offensive line and were not contenders in 2013 and 2014 before head coach Mike Smith was dismissed. Koetter and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, were under contract, but left because they knew the new coach, which turned out to be Quinn, would hire his own staff.
Koetter finished his three-year stint as head coach of the Buccaneers with a 19-29 record, including 5-11 this season. His tenure ended after the 34-32 loss to the Falcons.
Ryan, 33, agreed to a five-year, $150 million contract extension which runs through the 2023 season. Ryan had a great relationship with Koetter. The move prevents yet another offensive coordinator during Ryan’s 12-year tenure.
Quinn said last week that Ryan who have some voice in the hiring process.
“Well, I think Matt has input because, how do I say this? Because of his familiarity with the offense,” Quinn said. “But as far as going to select people, that's not part of his influence. All the players do to a certain regard. We want to keep the system going where Matt thrives in. So, he has a part of it, but not part of who, if that makes sense.”