Blog Entry

Falcons hire Mike Nolan to head up defense

Posted on: January 17, 2012 7:42 pm
Mike Nolan has been hired as Atlanta's defensive coordinator (US Presswire).By Josh Katzowitz

Now that the Falcons have hired former 49ers head coach Mike Nolan as their defensive coordinator, as written by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, it seems that former Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo could be headed to New Orleans to replace Gregg Williams as the Saints defensive coordinator.

That’s the word from Rapid Reporter Larry Holder, who writes that Spagnuolo “has reportedly been high on the Saints wish list for the job with (Williams) leaving for St. Louis.”

Both moves make sense: Spagnuolo because* the 2008 Giants squad, the last time he was a defensive coordinator, was a top-five defense and stopped the Patriots high-powered offense in the Super Bowl, and Nolan because he’s put together strong defenses in Denver and Miami after he was fired in San Francisco.

*But as’s Ryan Wilson and Will Brinson point out, Spagnuolo also could be a candidate to replace Jim Caldwell as the Colts next head coach. Which he obviously would accept over a New Orleans offer.

Nolan will replace former defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder, who unexpectedly bolted for the Auburn defensive coordinator job, and he’ll join newly-hired offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter on Atlanta’s staff.

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“Mike Nolan is an established coordinator in this league,” said Falcons head coach Mike Smith in a statement. “He brings more than 25 years of NFL experience to our team and has been a coordinator at this level for 14 years. Mike has a history of developing physically intimidating defensive units, and we are fortunate to have him join our staff.”

Although Nolan has been known as a 3-4 defense schemer and though the Falcons personnel is suited toward a 4-3, the AJC writes that coach Mike Smith has so much respect for Nolan that the team will become something of a hybrid of the two schemes.

“Moving forward, this defense needs to continue its growth and evolution as a passionate and fiery defense, one that is going to fly to the football, disrupt, be opportunistic and capitalized on opportunities to turn the game around; flip the game in critical situations,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said before the Nolan hiring. “We’ll look for a coordinator who will [aid] Coach Smith and his approach to putting that type of aggressive defense on the field.”

The Falcons feel they’ve got the man in Nolan who will help do so.

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Since: May 6, 2008
Posted on: January 18, 2012 5:34 pm

Falcons hire Mike Nolan to head up defense

its official , Miamis' front office is full of idiots , how do you let Nolan get away the defense is the bright point of the team . Idiots !

Since: Mar 1, 2009
Posted on: January 18, 2012 4:01 pm

Falcons hire Mike Nolan to head up defense

Good hire by the Falcons.....I wondering when the Dolphins front office is going to get their act together.

Since: Jun 2, 2009
Posted on: January 18, 2012 2:49 pm

Falcons hire Mike Nolan to head up defense

I'm drafting Falcon's DST next season.

Since: Feb 19, 2008
Posted on: January 18, 2012 12:40 pm

Falcons hire Mike Nolan to head up defense

Good for the Falcon. You have to give them credit if they have a weekness they try to fix it at the end of the year. There defense has been there biggest weekness. Nolan is one of the best defensive coordinators in football. This should help the Falcon next year in a big way. I wish the Chargers would have hired him but I use to disappoinment since A.J. Smith has been in charge.Falcon fans should should be happy this should help alot.     

Since: May 30, 2008
Posted on: January 18, 2012 12:06 pm

Falcons hire Mike Nolan to head up defense

mcwald20 - Take a look at what the Falcons new DC "loser" has accomplished in the NFL recently:

Nolan spent the last two seasons as the Miami Dolphins’ defensive coordinator.

Last season, the Dolphins boasted the third best run defense in the NFL, allowing just 95.6 yards per game and 3.7 yards per carry. His defense also produced 41 sacks which ranked tied for 10th in the NFL  and allowed the sixth fewest points per game at 19.6. The Dolphins also ranked seventh in third-down percentage (33.8) and sixth in red zone defense, holding opponents to a 44.2 touchdown percentage inside the 20.

In 2010, Nolan’s defense ranked among the league’s top ten in overall defense, pass defense and run defense, and was one of just five units in the League to accomplish that feat. Nolan joined Miami after spending the 2009 season as the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos. Under his tutelage, Denver’s defense improved to seventh in the NFL in total defense after finishing 29th in 2008. Denver’s pass defense was equally impressive, ranking third in the NFL, allowing just 186.3 yards per game through the air.

Prior to joining the Broncos’ staff, Nolan served as the San Francisco 49ers’ head coach from 2005 to 2008. During Nolan’s four-year tenure with the club, the 49ers were one of the NFL’s most consistent teams in stopping the run. San Francisco ranked fourth in the league in yards per carry during that period surrendering just 3.9 yards per rush.


Since: May 30, 2008
Posted on: January 18, 2012 11:59 am

Falcons hire Mike Nolan to head up defense

lumpoco - Matt Ryan's stats from 2011:

TDS 29

INT 12

YDS 4,177

RTG 92.2

Cpl % 61.3

He sure is a poser with over 4,000 yards passing and a nearly 3 to 1 TD to INT ratio!

Since: Sep 1, 2011
Posted on: January 18, 2012 8:44 am

Falcons hire Mike Nolan to head up defense

Why did SF do so well this past year. New talent. Not a bunch of recycled bums from the old boys club.
Atlanta has nothing to boast about with this loser.
Get some new coaches from college or even the old United Football League.
That is the way to develop a winning program.

Since: Aug 7, 2008
Posted on: January 18, 2012 1:44 am

Falcons hire Mike Nolan to head up defense

Mike Nolan will take the Falcons to the playoffs next season..despite their inept offense. Matt Ryan? That poser plays like Matt Leinart rather than Matt Moore.

Since: Jul 14, 2010
Posted on: January 18, 2012 1:32 am

Falcons hire Mike Nolan to head up defense

I like this move a lot more than the new OC!

Since: Jan 17, 2012
Posted on: January 17, 2012 7:58 pm

Falcons hire Mike Nolan to head up defense

really love this move, im a huge falcons fan and we definitely need to impove that defense, especially the secondary and a dc with mike nolans experience would reeally help

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