Special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica of the New York Jets disputes a call in the third quarter during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium on October 13, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Steelers defeated the Jets 19-6. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
Photo: Rich Schultz/Getty Images
Photo: Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Falcons hire Ben Kotwica as special-teams coordinator

Gosselin rankings in lower half of the league in 3 of 5 seasons as a coordinator  

Ben Kotwica, a former assistant with the Redskins, was hired as the Falcons’ special-teams coordinator Wednesday.

“Ben will provide an experienced but new voice for our special teams,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “He brings an attacking attitude to our units.”

Kotwica, 44, will replace Keith Armstrong, who was the Falcons’ special-teams coordinator from 2008-18. Armstrong agreed to terms with Tampa Bay on the same day. He will join the staff of Bruce Arians.

Armstrong played for Arians at Temple. 

Kotwica was with the Jets from 2007-13, as the coordinator only in 2013.

Quinn was not pleased with the return game, a year after the team did not re-sign returner Andre Roberts.

Marvin Hall and Justin Hardy took over the return chores. Hall handled kickoff returns and Hardy the punt returns. 

“It really kind of is the gateway and identity of the team, the speed, the toughness, and we're certainly going to try to improve in the return game,” Quinn said of the special teams after the 7-9 season. “That's an area we think we can make some jumps and make some improvement, and we'll certainly try to do that.

“We've been really consistent in a number of areas on special teams. If we can try to feature some of the speed that we have in different ways, with the different design, we'll certainly do that.”

The hiring doesn’t appear to be a major upgrade from the widely respected Armstrong.

Kotwica has a decent track record in the annual special-teams rankings compiled by former Dallas Morning News columnist Rick Gosselin. In the rankings, the NFL’s 32 teams are ranked in the 22 categories and assigned points according to their standing for 1 (best) to 32 (worst). 

In five seasons as a coordinator, Kotwica’s units have finished in the top half of the league two of five years. The 2018 rankings are still being compiled. 

With the Jets in 2013, Kotwica’s units were ranked ninth in the league, and they probably helped to land him a deal with the Redskins. He reportedly turned down a two-year extension to stay with the Jets. 

In Washington, Kotwica’s units were ranked 30th in 201413th in 2015, 17th in 2016 and 19th in 2017

Over the three seasons from 2015 to 2017, he was ranked higher than Armstrong’s units twice. The Falcons were 22nd in 2015, 14 in 2016 and 22 in 2017. 

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