NFL Analysis: A Closer Look at the Atlanta Falcons

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Albert Breer of the NFL Network has changed from being generally insufferable to being awesome because he visited Falcons camp.  Breer believes the new coordinators, Mike Nolan and Dirk Koetter, reflect the belief that Atlanta needs more of a "gun slinger mentality." Certainly there was need for change after Atlanta schemed to lose in the playoffs the last few years.

Finding out about the new coordinators and badmouthing the old ones, after the jump.

I don’t think we’ll be as vanilla," said defensive end John Abraham.  "That’s not knocking who we had before. It’s just a little bit more diverse with more people coming in the D-ends and the linebackers.”  That sure sounds like a knock on the guy who was here before.  He may as well have said people with mustaches cannot coordinate at this level.  

Abraham dropped into coverage on zone blitzes more often than any defensive lineman in the entire league.  That may sound crazy to anyone who has not watched the Brian VanGorder defense the past few years, but the Mustache was always happiest when dropping players into coverage and preventing anyone from nearing the opposing quarterback.  

I'll just be happy when Jon Gruden cannot immediately dissect our defensive scheme on national television and call it too basic.  I do not blame VanGorder for Atlanta's problems the past few years but I do blame Mike Mularkey.  By all appearances Jason Kirk of SBN may despise Mularkey as much as myself and had a few choice words for the old coordinator.

Dirk Koetter is an absolute upgrade over Mike Mularkey in literally every way a human could be an upgrade over another human (mentally, artistically, spiritually, in the vertical and horizontal and hypothetical passing games, at video games, at football in general, at parenting, in all matters of physical fitness and grooming and hungedness, at using wide receivers, in his sense of humor and manners, at not calling the same goddamn goal line play four times in one game).

Hey, that sums it up for me!  The new coordinators with their new schemes are bringing about change in Atlanta.  According to Mr. Breer's article, Atlanta will finally use more spread principles with the offense.  Yes, tell me exactly what I want to hear.  Less bunch formations should spread out defenses and give the offense a bit more operational space while taking pressure off the offensive line.  Including more screen passes should slow down the pass rush as well, potentially making Sam Baker look like less of a train wreck.  Maybe a more applicable comparison would be Baker being only a Japanese level nuclear disaster as opposed to a full-fledged Chernobyl disaster.  I tentatively expect Jacquizz Rodgers to improve on his one caught screen pass last year.

Breer believes Nolan is the most important addition to the Falcons this year, and his ability to bring in new ideas and get the most out of a talented roster will be the difference between getting that elusive playoff win.  Atlanta had basically ran the same offensive and defensive scheme for four years but received diminishing returns on new talent.  Nolan is one with a history of tailoring his defense to available talent.  One similar defensive situation mentioned in Flowery Branch was the quick turn around Wade Phillips made with a historically poor Houston Texans defense.  

The new coordinators, 2nd year wide receiver Julio Jones, and new defensive addition Asante Samuel have been improving Atlanta's "swagger."  While this is something I support, do the kids still say swagger?  I need to check my totally tubular Friendster account to stay on top of all the cool kid lingo.  Terminology aside, the injection of some cahones is important after some have said our old coordinators had beat the swagger out of our players.

Maybe I am not the only one who believes the right coordinator can be the shot in the arm/kick in the butt needed to improve a team, and the Falcons have high hopes for Koetter and Nolan.

Get more great Atlanta Falcons news and analysis over at The Grits Blitz.