2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Coordinators Nolan, Koetter giving Falcons balance

    2013-01-08 21:14

(Eds: Updates. With AP Photos.)
By GEORGE HENRY
Associated Press

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) - Last year's playoff disappointment hit so hard that Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith needed to change his staff from the top.

It seems Smith made the right decisions when he hired Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator and Dirk Koetter to run the offense.

``In my mind we have the best coaching staff in the NFL,'' Smith said.

How long he can keep it together is unclear.

The Falcons' success this season helped Koetter earn a head coaching interview last week with Kansas City. Nolan, the former head coach in San Francisco, interviewed for the same job with Philadelphia.

And Keith Armstrong, the Falcons' special teams coordinator since Smith put his first Atlanta staff together in 2008, interviewed for head coaching vacancies with Kansas City, Philadelphia and Chicago.

Koetter withdrew his name from consideration after signing a new contract with the Falcons through 2014. Nolan and Armstrong both sidestepped on Tuesday night whether they hope to meet again with other teams after Atlanta's season ends.

They could be available to do so as early as next week if the Falcons (13-3) lose Sunday at home to Seattle (12-5) in the second round of the playoffs.

``Hopefully we're still playing,'' Nolan said.

Though it's not Smith's style to say so publicly, the Falcons were considered a team that had gone soft and predictable offensively and defensively after last year's 24-2 playoff loss at the New York Giants.

So perhaps Jacksonville did Smith a favor when it hired Koetter's predecessor, Mike Mularkey, as head coach. Auburn did the same by hiring Brian VanGorder as defensive coordinator.

Atlanta earned the NFC's No. 1 playoff seed for the second time in three years, thanks in part to Koetter helping quarterback Matt Ryan enjoy a career-best season, and Nolan putting his players in position to earn 31 takeaways.

But Nolan and Koetter both caution that the Falcons will face their toughest opponent this season when Seattle visits the Georgia Dome.

While the Seahawks are coming off a dominant victory at Washington last week in a wild-card game, Nolan hopes to disguise coverages well enough to force rookie quarterback Russell Wilson into making mistakes.

That has hardly been the case this year for Wilson, who is ranked No. 4 in NFL passer rating and is the Seahawks' second-leading rusher behind star running back Marshawn Lynch.

Nolan considers the elusive Wilson a dangerous scrambler because he usually doesn't extend plays to run for yardage as much as he keeps his eyes downfield to find an open receiver.

``You have to keep covering guys for a long time on the back end,'' Nolan said. ``That's hard to do. That's one of the tougher things about him because when he's running around, you'd better stay with your man.''

Koetter's job will be to design a game plan that improves the pass protection of Ryan and helps Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez create separation from the defense.

The Falcons caught a break after defensive end Chris Clemons, Seattle's leader with 11.5 sacks, was lost for the season at Washington because of a knee injury. But the Seahawks didn't rank No. 1 in scoring defense this year because they relied solely on one player.

In the regular season, Richard Sherman had eight interceptions, and Bruce Irvin had eight sacks for a defense that ranked fourth overall and tied Atlanta with 31 takeaways.

But the Falcons were seventh in scoring, sixth in passing, second in third-down efficiency and seventh in scoring.

Koetter likes how Atlanta matches up against Seattle in the red zone.

``I might be in the minority, but I look at it as strength on strength,'' Koetter said. ``Heck, let's go. They've got a good defense, and we have a good offense. I know their team is running hot right now, and I know our guys are looking forward to the challenge.''

---

Follow George Henry at http://www.twitter.com/georgehenryAP

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Dane FletcherMay 27 02:33a

Free-agent LB Dane Fletcher (Buccaneers) has returned to the New England Patriots on a one-year contract.

Devonta FreemanMay 26 09:53p

Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman worked with the first-team offense during organized team activities Tuesday, May 26.

Charles SimsMay 26 05:33p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Charles Sims has a solid chance of beating out RB Doug Martin for Tampa Bay's starting running back gig, according to Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com.

A.J. JenkinsMay 26 01:02p

Free-agent WR A.J. Jenkins (Chiefs) signed an undisclosed deal with the Dallas Cowboys Tuesday, May 26, according to a source. Jenkins was the 30th overall pick by the San [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMay 26 08:43a

Updating an ongoing story, the Dallas Cowboys have moved on from the idea of trading for Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, despite persistent rumors, according to The Dallas Morning [ More ]

A.J. McCarronMay 25 10:37p

Cincinnati Bengals QB AJ McCarron (shoulder) is healthy and hoping to push QB Andy Dalton in 2015. 'We wanted him in our building so bad and it happened and [ More ]

Ray McDonaldMay 25 04:42p

Updating previous reports, Chicago Bears DE Ray McDonald has been released Monday, May 25, just hours after being arrested for alleged domestic violence and child endangerment.

Adrian PetersonMay 25 02:42p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson still wants to be traded, according to a source. Peterson intends to skip all organized team activities, which would cause him to lose $250,000 in workout bonuses.

Adrian PetersonMay 24 09:22p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has informed head coach Mike Zimmer that he will not attend the optional practices that begin Tuesday, May 26, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Tom BradyMay 22 04:32p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will have the appeal of his four-game suspension heard by commissioner Roger Goodell after the NFL rejected a motion by the NFL Players [ More ]

Tom BradyMay 22 03:32p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's appeal of his four-game suspension has not been scheduled at this time.

Ray RiceMay 22 11:42a

Free-agent RB Ray Rice (Ravens) could be a consideration for the Dallas Cowboys in free agency, speculates The Dallas Morning News' Jon Machota. He cites Cowboys owner and general [ More ]

Adrian PetersonMay 22 09:52a

Updating an ongoing story, Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson remains in pursuit of being traded or receiving a new contract and remains away from the organization during voluntary workouts. [ More ]

William BeattyMay 21 12:02p

Updating previous reports, New York Giants OT William Beatty (chest) underwent successful surgery Thursday, May 21, to repair a torn pectoral muscle. Beatty will need approximately five to six months of recovery time.

Derek CarrMay 20 10:23p

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) will not need surgery on his injured finger and may be able to throw again before the end of offseason workouts, according to his agent.

Joseph RandleMay 20 09:23p

Dallas Cowboys RB Joseph Randle is the most likely option to lead the team's running back by committee approach in 2015. Randle has the most experience in the system, [ More ]

William BeattyMay 20 03:53p

Updating previous reports, New York Giants OT William Beatty's (pectoral) torn pectoral will require surgery and Beatty's recovery time is expected to be around five months. Beatty suffered the [ More ]

William BeattyMay 20 03:33p

Updating a previous report, New York Giants OT William Beatty (shoulder) tore his pectoral while lifting weights Wednesday, May 20, according to a source, and will undergo surgery. One [ More ]

Josh HillMay 20 03:23p

New Orleans Saints TE Josh Hill is slated as the starting tight end this season with TE Jimmy Graham now in Seattle. TE Benjamin Watson could give Hill a run for his money, however.

William BeattyMay 20 03:13p

New York Giants OT William Beatty (shoulder) suffered a potentially serious shoulder injury while lifting weights Wednesday, May 20, according to a source. Surgery is a possibility.

Geno SmithMay 20 03:03p

New York Jets QB Geno Smith is the starting quarterback and will not see competition in training camp, according to offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.

Tom BradyMay 20 03:03p

Updating previous reports, New England Patriots QB Tom Brady's appeal will not be affected by the team's decision to accept their sanctions. Commissioner Roger Goodell said he wants to [ More ]

Matt JonesMay 20 02:15p

Washington Redskins RB Matt Jones said that he loves the offense and has a chip on his shoulder after not being used properly while in college. 'My college career [ More ]

Derek CarrMay 20 08:53a

Updating a previous report, Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) is experiencing numbness in his right ring finger. He hopes to avoid surgery through rest and rehab, and no [ More ]

Derek CarrMay 19 06:13p

Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr (finger) has a right ring finger injury that could be surgically repaired. A return for training camp is still achievable, however, according to a source.

L. WashingtonMay 19 05:23p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR L'Damian Washington (undisclosed) was waived/injured Tuesday, May 19.

Shayne GrahamMay 19 03:03p

New Orleans Saints PK Shayne Graham was released Tuesday, May 19. Subsequently, free-agent WR Lance Lewis (49ers) was signed.

Joseph BarksdaleMay 19 02:23p

Free-agent OT Joseph Barksdale (Rams) will sign a one-year deal worth $350,000 with the San Diego Chargers, according to a source. The deal also comes with more than $1 million in incentives available.

Tom BradyMay 19 01:43p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady will continue to appeal his four-game suspension, despite owner Robert Kraft saying the team will not appeal the discipline levied against them.

Jed CollinsMay 18 03:32p

Dallas Cowboys FB Jed Collins was released Monday, May 18, and FB Tyler Clutts was re-signed to an undisclosed contract.

Tyler CluttsMay 18 03:32p

Dallas Cowboys FB Jed Collins was released Monday, May 18, and FB Tyler Clutts was re-signed to an undisclosed contract.

Lache SeastrunkMay 18 02:42p

Tennessee Titans RB Lache Seastrunk was released Monday, May 18.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group