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FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons offense coordinator Dirk Koetter, in his first interview since the offense repeatedly failed in short yardage situations against the New Orleans Saints, acknowledged that the short yardage offense is a major problem for his unit.
Also, unsolicited, he noted that on a majority of Michael Turner’s 13 runs that he “had no chance” because “we had free runners at the point of attack.” Turner finished with 15 yards and was stuffed on key third-and-goal from the Saints’ 1-yard line.
The question was if Jacquizz Rodgers had earned himself more carries.
Here are the highlights from Koetter’s interview session:
ON THE SHORT YARDAGE OFFENSE: “We’ve got to do better. It’s highly unusual that you have a higher percentage on the season , 60 percent and third and 4 to 5; and we’re 50 percent on third and 1 to 3. That’s very unusual. To be third or whatever we are in the NFL in third down conversions and be only 50 percent on third and one is not what you’re shooting for. But we’ve got to do a better job. On a couple of them you have to give them credit for what they did on defense. Coaching-wise we’ve got to have a better plan.”
WHAT MAKES THOSE SITUATIONS SO CHALLENGING?: “They are challenging because you need one yard and everybody knows you need one yard. That’s what makes it challenging. It’s like you’re trying to make one yard and they’re trying to defend one yard. Maybe we ought to just pretend its third and 10 and we might be better off.”
HOW IS IT SUPPOSED TO ALL WORK TOGETHER?: “There’s always multiple parts. Sometimes we have checks on. WE are checking for different looks. The very first one the other day, we just didn’t block it right. We blocked the look wrong. We either didn’t prepare them good enough or they didn’t recognize it good enough. The second one we threw a pass and they ran an all-out blitz on one side, so we had some protection issues. The second time we threw a pass and I’d call that play in a heart beat. We didn’t execute it that time. Any single play out there, you can never just say it’s this guy’s fault or this group’s fault. There is always multiple reasons.”
IS THIS A BAD THING?: “Yeah, it’s a bad thing. If you had a magic wand and could wave it, then it would be easy to fix everything if you had that magic wand. Again, that’s one part of the game. We came up short in that part and eventually that added up to us coming up short on the score board. Your goal is on offense, you break it down into different segments. You want to be good on first down. You want to be good on third down. You want to be good in the red zone. You want to be good in short yardage. You want to be good on goal line. You want to protect the passer. You want to run the ball good. It’s hard to do all of those well all of the time. We definitely came up short in that area.
HAS JACQUIZZ EARNED HIMSELF SOME MORE CARRIES OR WILL THE SPLIT STAY THE SAME: “We never go into a game. We only ran the ball 18 times. We need to run the ball more efficiently as a team. It doesn’t matter who the runner is. When you look at the tape on the majority of Mike Turner’s runs in the game the other day, he had no chance. We had free runners at the point of attack. Jacquizz did a good job when he was in there. He touched the ball, but some of that could be luck of the draw. We’ll see how it plays out. Touches on this team are always going to be an issue because we have so many good skill guys. One guys increase in touches is going to come at the expense of another guy. Who is that? That’s the million dollar question.”
HOW DID RODGERS 18-YARD RUN LOOK ON FILM: “That was a nice run. He did a nice job. That was a pretty play. We needed one more. We needed one more of those.”