Atlanta Falcons: Candidates for the Defensive Coordinator Spot

Zayne Grantham@ZPGSportsContributor IIIJanuary 15, 2012

Atlanta Falcons: Candidates for the Defensive Coordinator Spot

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    The Atlanta Falcons lost defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder after their playoff loss last week to the New York Giants and are currently conducting a search for the replacement.

    There are a good amount of coordinators out there that could come into Atlanta and make a good defense an elite one. The Falcons definitely have the talent on defense to compete at a high level, but their potential has not been met by a long shot.

    Key free agents such as John Abraham and Brent Grimes will need to be brought back and a good coordinator could be the key to getting those guys back in Atlanta.

    The Falcons have been expected to compete for a Super Bowl the past few years, but have been unable to win in the playoffs. The Falcons lost their identity towards the end of 2011 and tried to become a pass-happy team. They will need to get back to their run–first style of offense and a great defense will help them greatly.

    We will take a look at three different candidates for the Falcons defensive coordinator spot. There is a dark-horse candidate that is an unlikely hire, but could work. We will also look at a guy that would fill the spot well and one last candidate that would be a perfect fit for the Falcons.

Dark Horse: Mike Singletary

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    Mike Singletary would be a great option for the Atlanta Falcons and their defensive coordinator spot.

    I believe that it may be unlikely, but he would help the Falcon's young, talented linebackers thrive in a new system. Singletary would likely bring in a 3-4 system and the Falcons would have to adjust to that, but once they did they could be dangerous.

    The Falcons obvious strength on defense is their linebackers, and Singletary could make this group into one of the best in the league.

    Singletary also has plenty of experience in coaching and he expects excellence from his players. He is a very passionate, emotional coach and he would likely get the most from his players.

    However, I see this as an unlikely possibility for the Falcons.

Good Fit: Steve Spagnuolo

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    Steve Spagnuolo would be a good fit for the Falcons and he would likely create a lot of excitement.

    Spagnuolo also carries a heavy defensive past and has worked in a 3-4 and 4-4 scheme in the past. He ran a 4-3 as head coach in St. Louis and as the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants. I believe that means that he would run a 4-3 if he took over in Atlanta.

    Spagnuolo is a coach that is known for getting the most out of his defensive line and that is something that is needed desperately in Atlanta. The Falcons have a talented defensive line, but they have underperformed.

    Spagnuolo is a type of coach that can do great things with limited talent on a defensive roster. The Falcons definitely have great players in all three phases on defense and Spagnuolo could inspire these guys to greatness.

    The Falcons would love to get Spagnuolo, but so would a ton of other teams. Spagnuolo could very well end up in Atlanta and he'd fit well there, but chances are that he will end up somewhere else.

Perfect Fit: Mike Nolan

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    Many people know that the Atlanta Falcons are trying to get either Spagnuolo or Mike Nolan, and in my opinion Nolan is the best fit for the Falcons.

    Nolan has experience as a defensive coordinator and as a head coach in the NFL. He will be able to come in and take control of that defense, as well as motivate them to play better than they have in recent years.

    Nolan will come with a 3-4 scheme and the Falcons would have to adjust to that, but it may end up being the best thing for the Falcons.

    The Falcons have young, athletic players at the linebacker position and they would fit very well in a 3-4 scheme. Atlanta also has the defensive line to play in a 3-4 system. John Abraham and Ray Edwards could hold their own on the edge and Jonathan Babineaux would fit in very well in the nose tackle spot.

    A 3-4 scheme is typically ran by a defense that is good at stopping the rush and getting some pressure on the opposing quarterback. I believe that is exactly what the Falcons want to do, and Nolan would be the best coach to come in and do that.