Atlanta Falcons: New Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian is a Perfect Match
Just days after a heartbreaking defeat in their second Super Bowl appearance, the Atlanta Falcons quickly flipped the pages to the 2017 season. Here is why the hire of Steve Sarkisian as Offensive Coordinator will work in Atlanta.
The Atlanta Falcons are a few days away from a devastating Super Bowl loss. The aftermath of that loss saw the departure of former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to San Francisco as head coach. Replacing Shanahan is a name that no one expected.
Per Huffington Post columnist Jordan Schultz, the Falcons have hired former Alabama Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian for the same position. Those who consistently follow college football are aware of the type of coach Sarkisian is. For those who don’t, allow me to fill you in.
Sarkisian served as Alabama’s offensive coordinator for a grand total of one game. That game just so happened to be the 2017 National Championship game between the Tide and the Clemson Tigers. Sarkisian filled the position after previous assistant Lane Kiffin departed for his head coaching gig at Florida Atlantic.
Sarkisian does have head coach experience at the collegiate level. Seven seasons between Washington and USC produced 46 wins and two bowl victories. However, during that time, he is most famously for getting fired during the 2015 season at USC due to several alcohol-related incidents.
Despite all of that, the big question is, what does Atlanta see in Sarkisian?
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Well for one, Sarkisian’s offensive philosophy is similar to the successful scheme instilled by Shanahan the past couple of seasons. During his time at the college level, Sarkisian’s schemes incorporated a mixture of up-tempo, no-huddle approach along with a pro-style principles.
While his running aspect has seen more downhill style in the past also, he does have familiarity in the zone-running scheme. Not to mention run-pass options as well.
Given the fact the Falcons expect to have a combination of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman at running back, Sarkisian will likely stick to what brought the Falcons to the dance and that’s a running scheme that attacks the edges.
Here is Falcons head coach Dan Quinn on Sarkisian’s approach to the run aspect of the offense.
“100 percent, that’s the style we want to feature moving forward,” Quinn said Tuesday. “We love the way we attack and it took a lot of work to put that system in place. So along with Thomas, we had a real emphasis on the personnel and how we can feature guys into that system. It’s very important that we stay consistent with that.” – Falcons head coach Dan Quinn
In the passing game, Sarkisian also incorporates a nice amount of play-action looks, an element that quarterback Matt Ryan has thrived from in the past. Ryan will also have a little more input in the offense, another facet that has benefitted the offense in the past.
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It should also be noted that Sarkisian has created quality offenses without the greatest talent in the world. In Washington, Sarkisian had 1,000 yard rushers in Chris Polk and Bishop Sankey, relied on productive seasons at receiver from Jermaine Kearse and Kasen Williams, and made stars out of Jake Locker and Keith Price at quarterback.
His tenure at USC was solid in some aspects, including getting the best out of quarterback Cody Kessler and getting steady production from Javorius Allen at running back.
Overall, Sarkisian is an aggressive play caller and an innovative mind that has intrigued NFL front offices over the years. He has time as an assistant under Seattle head coach Pete Carroll and Alabama head coach Nick Saban. Many immediately questioned if Sarkisian would shake things up with his hire in Atlanta.
The schemes ran by Shanahan and Sarkisian has a number of similarities. If there are changes from Sarkisian, it will be at minimal impact. With Sarkisian on the sidelines in Atlanta, the Falcons may keep their offensive train rolling in 2017.