Falcons get their man (on offense)

Perception is reality, and numbers don’t lie.

Now, forget all of that.

The Atlanta Falcons announced on Sunday that they hired Dirk Koetter (pronounced “Cutter”) as their new offensive coordinator. The 52-year-old Koetter coached with Falcons head coach Mike Smith in 2007 when both were coordinators with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

A self-proclaimed passing coach, Koetter saw his offenses get worse in the passing game every season he was with the Jaguars. They went from 15th to 19th to 27th to a dead-last 32nd this season. The numbers are daunting, and it’s understandable why the skeptics are plentiful in the Falcons’ fan base (and media).

More: Someone nailed their NFL picks over the weekend…

But, riddle me this — what does Koetter now have with the Falcons offense that he didn’t have when he was coaching the Jaguars’ offense?

Uh … everything?

He will inherit a solid running game, just like he had in Jacksonville with Maurice Jones-Drew. But Koetter will also have a very good quarterback in Matt Ryan that is slightly more polished than the rookie Jacksonville had this year in Blaine Gabbert. He’ll have a receiving corps with several weapons, assuming Julio Jones makes a step forward in the offseason as I expect he will. He’ll have a revamped offensive line that will actually be able to block for Matt Ryan next season (or so we hope).

And he’ll have a head coach that he’s worked with before.

Falcons fans know that this year’s team was maddening in the way offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey ignored the down-field pass, despite having a slew of receivers who see the deep ball as one of their strengths. In the NFC, seemingly every good offense has a deep-ball threat that could strike at any time, and that, more than a running game, makes them dangerous.

The Falcons need that.

It’s easy to say all the right things, and that doesn’t translate to the field every time. But Koetter said two words in this morning’s press conference that have me particularly fired up and ready to see what he can do.

“Screen pass.”

The Falcons didn’t throw screen passes during the Mike Mularkey era, despite having a running back who thrives on plays like that — Jacquizz Rodgers. If Koetter is a man of his word, deep passes and screens are going to make this offense much better.

And tight end Tony Gonzalez will be open. Like, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski open.

I’m excited to see who the Falcons hire for their defensive coordinator, but for now, I’m going to wait and see what Koetter can do before I judge him.

Even if I’m not hearing good things from my friends in Jacksonville.

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