Atlanta Falcons: Have Falcons Already Hired Dirk Koetter's Replacement?

Christopher BehelerCorrespondent IIIJanuary 1, 2013

BOISE, ID - NOVEMBER 28: Head Coach Pat Hill of the Fresno State Bulldogs looks on during their game against the Boise State Broncos on November 28, 2008 at Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho.  (Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images)
Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images

Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is putting the extra week off to good use. Not by putting extra time in the film room, but by furthering his career. Koetter has several interviews lined up for the bye week, according to Alex Marvez of Fox Sports. With getting a playoff win paramount for the Falcons, why allow Koetter to interview now?

Could it be that Koetter is not essential as he appears?

And is his replacement already on staff?


It Is Matt Ryan's Offense

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has been the unquestioned leader of the offense for the past few years. In 2011, Mike Smith began to loosen OC Mike Mularkey's grip on the play-calling by increasing the number of no-huddle drives. This helped the offense flourish and Matt Ryan to set the Falcons single-season record for passing yards.

But Ryan could only call the plays in the playbook.

Koetter was hired when Mularkey left to become the head coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Ryan took the few extra wrinkles in Koetter's scheme and ran with it. Ryan broke his own single-season passing record and as well as Steve Bartkowski's single-season passing touchdown record.

Koetter's scheme was not the result of genius, rather basic plays that have long been missing from the Falcons repertoire. For example, the screen pass. Many teams use the screen pass. Yet when added to Ryan's options, the play looked as if it were dialed up by an offensive genius.


Pat Hill Waiting in the Wings

While researching an article (which you can read here), an enigma emerged. Both Pat Hill and Paul Dunn were listed as offensive line coach. Two OL coaches seemed odd, especially since Dunn was just promoted to the position in 2012.

A former Fresno State head coach, Hill was also hired for the position in 2012. The Falcons may have had a reason.

Pat Hill is a descendant of the Bill Belichick coaching-tree. Hill left his Arizona State offensive coordinator position to join Belichick's staff in 1992. In 1996, Hill spent a year as the offensive line coach for the Baltimore Ravens before becoming the head coach of the Fresno State Bulldogs.

Often taking on superior talent. Hill left the Bulldogs after 15 years before joining the Falcons.

While going from head coach to position coach would seem like a step down, maybe the Falcons had a hidden agenda. The regime learned back in 2008 that the NFL is a copycat league. Success only brings the poacher's eye to your coaching staff. Koetter would also be walking into one of the most talent-rich offenses in the league.

So Hill has had a year to be evaluated. Behind the scenes he has been weighed and measured. And if Koetter leaves, he might find himself in a bigger office come 2013.