Personnel has changed coaches' outlook on their offenses

ATLANTA — John Fox and Mike Smith each emphasized power running games in their three years together in the NFC South.


They were perceived as conservative, strong-willed and unbending in their run-first convictions.

The stereotypes are changing as suddenly no one seemed to know what offensive philosophy to expect from either coach entering the 2012 season.

How would Fox, the former longtime Carolina Panthers coach beginning his second season in Denver, adjust to the dramatic addition of Peyton Manning?

Would Smith, entering his fifth season in Atlanta, allow new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to pump up the passing game with Matt Ryan?

Week 1 victories offered encouraging and exciting opening acts for each offense, setting the stage for the Broncos’ visit to Atlanta on Monday night.

Manning completed 19 of 26 passes for 253 yards with two touchdowns in last week’s 31-19 win over Pittsburgh. It was an important step in Manning’s comeback following a 20-month layoff for neck surgery.

Smith said Manning’s re-emergence leaves Atlanta’s defense with little margin for error.

The Falcons, meanwhile, showed that their increased emphasis on Ryan’s passing game was no preseason mirage. Ryan completed 23 of 31 passes for 299 yards and three TDs in last week’s 40-24 win at Kansas City.

The Falcons’ emphasis may have changed from Michael Turner’s running to Ryan’s passing, but Fox said he sees similarities to the Atlanta offenses he prepared for twice a year from 2008-10.

“They utilized the no-huddle even when I was back there, but that is what makes them such a good offense,” Fox said. “They have the ability to get big and pound you and get small and stretch it that way. That’s what good offenses are capable of, and they’re definitely one of them.”


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