Falcons make Koetter offensive coordinator

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Completing an unusual swap of offensive coordinators, the Falcons hired Dirk Koetter from Jacksonville to replace Mike Mularkey only four days after the Jaguars introduced Mularkey as their new coach.

Atlanta hired Dirk Koetter to run its offense. He worked with current Falcons head coach Mike Smith in Jacksonville.  FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Atlanta hired Dirk Koetter to run its offense. He worked with current Falcons head coach Mike Smith in Jacksonville.

Mularkey, whose Falcons offense was shut out in a 24-2 playoff loss to the New York Giants last week, was introduced as Jacksonville’s coach on Wednesday. He hired former Falcons quarterbacks coach Bob Bratkowski to be his offensive coordinator.

The Falcons hired Koetter despite the Jaguars ranking last in the league in total offense and yards passing in 2011.

Koetter’s offense ranked 29th with its average of 15.2 points per game.

Jacksonville rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert and Luke McCown combined for 12 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions.

The Falcons lost both coordinators after the season.

The team is still looking to replace defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, who moved back to the college ranks to head Auburn’s defense.

Koetter, 52, was a combined 66-44 as the head coach at Boise State (1998 to 2000) and Arizona State (2001-06).

Koetter was hired as Jack­sonville’s offensive coordinator in 2007. He worked with Falcons coach Mike Smith for one year.

Smith was the Jaguars’ defensive coordinator before he became Atlanta’s head coach in 2008.

49ERS: The helmet-to-helmet hit by San Francisco safety Donte Whitner that sent Saints running back Pierre Thomas to the locker room early in Saturday’s NFC playoff game was legal.

Whitner was not penalized because the tackle was not against a defenseless player.

Helmet-to-helmet hits are banned against defenseless players in eight categories, and a runner is not one of those categories. Thomas was considered a runner because he’d made a catch, turned and made a “football move” before being hit.

FULL-TIME JOB : Aiming to ensure NFL rules are enforced the same way from game to game, the league will consider making about 10 officials full-time employees next season.

As of now, all game officials are part-time employees.

Responding to a question about consistency in officiating while speaking to a group of about 75 fans before Sunday’s playoff game between the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the proposal would bring a group of officials to the league offices in New York to help review game films and evaluate the calls.

They then would be spread out among the crews at games.


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