Dirk Koetter has just started his second stint as the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive coordinator, and although they’re just in the OTA phase, his quarterback is already reaping the benefits.
Matt Ryan enjoyed some of his better statistical outings under Koetter when he was first calling the Falcons’ offensive plays, and now both hope they can rekindle that history.
“I’m excited to work with Dirk again,” Ryan said this offseason. “I learned so much from him the first time around. He’s kind of picked up a few things along the way, too, come up with some really good stuff. It’s been a lot of fun the last couple months of getting back to work with Dirk.”
Atlanta reached the NFC Championship Game after the 2012 season with Koetter calling plays, and quarterback Matt Ryan leading the NFL in completion percentage.
In 2014, Koetter called a Falcons offense that averaged 378.2 yards per game, 284.6 passing yards per game, and 23.8 points per game, all ranking in the top dozen in football. In Tampa Bay as head coach, his offense averaged third in yards per game and first in passing yards per game. The Buccaneers finished 5-11 overall.
Ryan enjoyed consistent production with Koetter as play caller, in the 2012 season leading the NFL in completion percentage (68.9 percent).
Over three seasons with Koetter as the main play caller, Ryan averaged 4,643 yards, 29 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and completed around 67 percent of his pass attempts.
In the 2012-13 season, the Falcons earned a berth in the NFC Championship Game with this offense.
Ryan will be more comfortable in a scheme that he already has experience with, but at the same time, the quarterback knows that there will be differences from then to now.
But despite those changes, their familiarity with each other is a huge asset.
“I learned a lot in the passing game,” Ryan said.
“A lot about how to process information at the quarterback position in the passing game from him. How to eliminate certain things early, pre snap. I felt like I made a big jump during those years in terms of learning keys and really understanding about eliminating certain parts of progression to make you play faster to make you play more clear headed.”
Though the Falcons had their worst overall outing since the year before they hired Dan Quinn, winning just seven games, Ryan still enjoyed success throwing the ball.
The now 34 year old completed 69.4 percent of his pass attempts, his second best mark, amassed 4,924 yards in the air, also his second most, scored 35 passing touchdown, again his second best, had seven interceptions, a career low, and had a 1.2 percent interception rate, his lowest ever.
But Ryan was also sacked 42 times, the second most of his career, and a major weakness for the team offensively as a whole. Atlanta hopes the combination of their first two draft picks, guard Chris Lindstrom and tackle Kaleb McGary, and the return of Koetter can help their offense take the next step forward.