By CHARLES ODUM
ATLANTA (AP) — Dan Quinn is looking for a renewed commitment to the Atlanta Falcons running game and offensive balance with new coordinator Dirk Koetter.
The Falcons’ outside zone scheme won’t change, though Quinn on Thursday said Koetter and the revamped offensive staff will bring new tweaks to the playbook.
Quinn has made a dramatic overhaul of his coaching staff following a disappointing 7-9 finish . He fired each of his three coordinators while announcing he will take over the defense.
On Tuesday, Quinn brought back two former Falcons offensive coordinators when he hired Koetter to direct the offense and Mike Mularkey as tight ends coach.
Quinn said Koetter, the former Tampa Bay coach, won’t totally remake the offense.
“The systems will stay very similar,” Quinn said. “The vision will certainly stay very similar in how we want to play ball. The way we go about executing that and find different ways to feature guys, that will have some change to it.”
The Falcons lacked offensive balance this season, relying too heavily on a passing game led by quarterback Matt Ryan, receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley and tight end Austin Hooper.
Atlanta ranked sixth in total offense but only 27th in rushing. Those numbers were affected by season-ending injuries suffered by running back Devonta Freeman and starting guards Andy Levitre and Brandon Fusco.
Quinn said he was impressed by Koetter’s success featuring running backs Doug Martin in Tampa Bay and Maurice Jones-Drew in Jacksonville, where Koetter was offensive coordinator from 2007-11.
“Having that kind of balance, Dirk and I both agree, is the best way to attack and is the best way to feature the guys on our team,” Quinn said.
Expect to see more carries for Falcons running backs in 2019.
“The thing I think for us to get back from an identity standpoint is the amount of run attempts,” Quinn said, adding he likes the way “we attack” through the air.
“What I’d like to make sure is we can feature … the run game” to make play-action passes more effective.
“We’re going to work really hard at that,” he said, adding “That will be a big part of our identity, not just this year but for years to come.”
Quinn announced new roles for some assistants. Kyle Flood, who had been assistant offensive line coach, will have a new senior assistant position. Quinn said “a big part of his role” will be assisting with clock management and replay decisions on the sideline.
Also, Dave Brock will coach running backs instead of wide receivers. Bernie Parmalee, who had been running backs coach, will assist new special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica , who was hired from the Washington Redskins on Wednesday.
Koetter and Mularkey will be renewing relationships with Ryan. Mularkey was Ryan’s first offensive coordinator in 2008-11 under former coach Mike Smith. Koetter directed the Falcons’ offense from 2012-14.
Quinn said that familiarity will help the transition in 2019.
“I do believe a past relationship of working together can pay off,” Quinn said, adding Koetter and Mularkey have talked with Ryan and other players.
Quinn said “more than two or three” candidates were interviewed before Koetter and Mularkey were hired. He said Ryan was not consulted during the interviews.
“I would say in no way was he involved in the process,” he said.