Atlanta Falcons (Offensive Coordinator, 2012-2014)
Koetter got to be familiar with the Bucs starting in 2012, when he joined the division rival Falcons as their new offensive coordinator. Once again, his first year was the best for his offense. Michael Turner ran for 800 yards and ten scores on 222 carries (3.6 yards per carry), while Jacquizz Rodgers totaled 362 yards and one touchdown (3.9 YPC). That isn’t overly impressive, but the difference for Atlanta was at the quarterback position. By this time, Matt Ryan was consistently throwing for 4,000 yards a season and had established himself as a top signal-caller in the league.
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Ryan’s play opened things up for Koetter in the passing game, which seemed to take precedent. The Falcons ran the ball 378 times in 2012, while Ryan finished the year with 615 passing attempts. He threw for 4,719 yards and 32 touchdowns to fourteen interceptions that year. Atlanta went 13-3 and won the division before losing in the NFC Championship Game.
The 2013 season was a letdown for the Falcons. Unsurprisingly, the run game was a problem that contributed to the team’s 4-12 record. Steven Jackson ran for 543 yards and six touchdowns, while Rodgers came back with 332 and two. Atlanta’s backfield finished with 1,247 rushing yards, which was the lowest total in the NFL. Ryan had another year with 4,000+ yards, but his touchdown total dipped to 26 while his interception total rose to seventeen. The Falcons were around the middle of the league in terms of points per game.
Koetter’s final year in Atlanta was another disappointing year for the team, as it finished 6-10. Steven Jackson went for 707 yards and six touchdowns, which was an improvement. However, Devonta Freeman ended up with 248 yards and one touchdown as the No. 2 guy. The backfield once again seemed to be secondary, as Ryan threw for 4,694 yards and 28 touchdowns to fourteen picks.
Thoughts on Atlanta tenure
The run game took a bit of a backseat for Koetter when he led the Falcons’ offense. That was due in large part to the play of Matt Ryan, who threw for over 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns in all three years. Even still, the offense (and the team as a whole) had the most success in year one, which was the backfield’s best year. Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers combined to be a serviceable complement to Ryan, which led to a deep playoff run. When Steven Jackson took over for Turner in 2013 and 2014, backfield production dropped, as did Ryan’s play (relatively) and Atlanta’s win totals.
As far as backfield efficiency and its correlation to success goes, Koetter’s time with the Falcons didn’t paint as perfect of a picture as his time with the Jaguars did. However, there were still some smaller-scale links between the two.