Is Dirk Koetter ready to rejoin Matt Ryan and “the Dirty Birds?” It looks that way.
Falcons beat writer Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Koetter, who interviewed with head coach Dan Quinn and GM Thomas Dimitroff this weekend, is their top choice:
— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@DOrlandoAJC) January 8, 2019
Ledbetter almost immediately identified Koetter, who was the play caller for the Falcons from 2012-14, as the top person to come back to Atlanta and be with Ryan after he was fired by Tampa Bay. He would replace Steve Sarkisian, who’s been the offensive coordinator the last two years for Quinn.
Koetter was hired by the Bucs, when the Falcons fired Mike Smith as head coach in 2014. He joined Lovie Smith’s staff the following year, which was Jameis Winston’s rookie season with Tampa Bay.
Winston, the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, became the youngest quarterback in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards in a season that first year with Koetter’s new scheme and play calls. Then, when Lovie Smith was fired after the Bucs fell apart losing their last four games and finished 6 – 10, Koetter was elevated to head coach.
Koetter had initial success in his first year in charge going 9-7, but the Bucs regressed in both 2017 and 2018 finishing 5-11 both seasons.
2018 was marred by quarterback controversy from the beginning of the season, as Winston was suspended for three games by the NFL. Backup Ryan Fitzpatrick played brilliantly in the first two games, but then faltered losing the next two starts. Koetter went to Winston who lost 2 of the next three games. Then, he went back to Fitzpatrick who failed to win any of his net three starts dropping the team to 3-7 before turning back a second time to Winston.
The Bucs won twice with Winston back starting again, to get to 5-7. However, they dropped their last four games with the offense faltering in the second half of all of them to finish 5-11, again.
Koetter reportedly had one year remaining on his Tampa Bay coaching contract, and it would be an interesting twist, if he would elect to back to being a play-caller immediately after having been a head coach for the last three years.
He also apparently talked this weekend with the Vikings about their vacant offensive coordinator job with coach Mike Zimmer, but the familiarity with Ryan and the division, etc. would be more appealing.
Koetter was also previously the offensive coordinator for Jack Del Rio with the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2007-11, where he coordinated highly successful offenses led by quarterback David Gerrard and running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
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