Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter works with Matt Ryan during team practice on Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Flowery Branch.
Photo: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons hire Dirk Koetter as new offensive coordinator 

Mike Mularkey hired to be team’s new tight ends coach 

The Falcons also hired Mike Mularkey as the tight ends coach. 

“We are fired up to have Dirk join our staff as our offensive coordinator,” coach Dan Quinn said. “His experience and familiarity with our division will also pay dividends as we move forward.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Koetter was the front-runner from the outset and that he received an offer from the team Monday. 

Mularkey, a former tight end as an NFL player, also was offensive coordinator with the Falcons from 2008-11. He’s been a head coach at Buffalo, Jacksonville and Tennessee.

“Mike brings over 20 years of experience in our league as a former play-caller, head coach and as a player, and we are pleased to have him join our staff,” Quinn said. “He has a good feel for our offense, both in the run game and the pass game, and we feel he will be able to add to the strengths of our tight ends group as we head into 2019.”

Koetter’s ability to adapt and blend offenses was attractive to the Falcons.

When he was hired in 2012 to lead the offense, he had a similar task. He had to blend the best of his vertical Air Coryell passing attack with the Falcons’ power attack that Mularkey ran.

He also came in and used the same terminology for quarterback Matt Ryan, who said that made it a smooth transition. 

Quinn said adaptability would be key for the new offensive coordinator. Also, he said he didn’t want to hire a first-time coordinator who would have to learn on a job.

“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.”

The Falcons’ running game fell off last season, while the passing attack continued at a high level. Fixing the offensive line is a major priority this offseason.

The Falcons passed for 290.8 yards per game, which ranked fourth in the NFL this season. They rushed for 98.3 yards per game, which ranked 27th in the league. 

“We’ll have both outside and inside zone for sure,” Quinn said. “And what ways we can feature the guys best. So, it will definitely be still heavy in the zone, but definitely new ideas, new ways to do things, that’s definitely a part of it.

“But not a wholesale change in terms of the philosophy. But as far as new schemes, new wrinkle part of it, adjustments, yes. (But no) wholesale changes to the scheme.”

Quinn said there was a lot of league-wide interest in the position.

Before the Koetter interview, Quinn said he had interviewed two candidates, which reportedly were former Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and Mularkey.

Also, according to a ESPN report, the Falcons and the Bengals were blocked by the Denver Broncos from interviewing Gary Kubiak.   The Falcons would not confirm the report, but according to a person familiar with the situation, the team was not allowed to speak to Kubiak.

Although Kubiak did not coach last season, he remains under contract with the Broncos.

The Falcons fired all three coordinators last week, a day following the regular-season finale and a 7-9 campaign.

The Falcons’ running game fell off last season, while the passing attack continued at a high level. Fixing the offensive line is a major priority this offseason.

The Falcons passed for 290.8 yards per game, which ranked fourth in the league last season. They rushed for 98.3 yards per game, which ranked 27th in the league. 

The Falcons apparently did not want Ryan to have to start over again with new coordinator for the third time in five seasons. The next coordinator will Ryan’s fifth -- Koetter twice -- over 12 seasons. 

In Koetter’s first season with the Falcons, the team reached the NFC title game and held a 17-0 lead before losing to Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers.

The next two season, the offense slipped behind a porous offensive line. 

Under Koetter, Ryan posted several single-season career and franchise records including passing yards, touchdowns, and completion percentage. 

The combination of Koetter and Ryan over three seasons guided the Falcons offense to the fourth-ranked passing attack (292.0 ypg) and the 10th ranked scoring offense (24.0 ppg) in the NFL from 2012-14.

Wide receiver Julio Jones also experienced a breakout year in 2012 under Koetter, setting career-bests – at the time – in receptions (79), receiving yards (1,198) and touchdowns (10) in only his second season.

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