The Atlanta Falcons have found the guy to replace Brian VanGorder as defensive coordinator and his name is Mike Nolan.
ESPN reported the story earlier today via the Associated Press and it seems to be news that will excite the Falcons' fanbase. After the news broke that Dirk Koetter was taking over as offensive coordinator, many Falcons fans questioned the front office and ownership for not bringing in a bigger name.
However, Nolan is definitely a big-name coordinator. He was previously the head coach for the San Francisco 49ers and has been the defensive coordinator for the Giants, Redskins, Jets, Ravens, Broncos and Dolphins. Nolan is one of the most experienced defensive coordinators in the game and is widely regarded as one of the best defensive minds in the NFL.
He is surely going to help out a Falcons defense that has, for the most part, not been much of a threat to opposing offenses in recent memory. The defense in Atlanta has talented players, but it has always seemed to lack something, and hopefully Nolan can figure out what that is.
The Falcons have a good amount of key free agents on defense, including guys like Brent Grimes, Curtis Lofton and John Abraham. If the Falcons can re-sign some of the important pieces to that defense and make good moves in free agency and the draft, then they could be an elite unit in the near future.
Nolan is likely to bring a 3-4 scheme with him, which could be exactly what the Falcons need. They have great linebackers in Atlanta with guys like Lofton and Sean Weatherspoon. The Falcons have the defensive line that could excel in a 3-4 if they make a couple of key moves, like bringing in another elite pass-rusher and drafting a big nose tackle.
Atlanta made a great move by signing Nolan and allowing him to come in and change up their defense. We watched what a switch from 4-3 to 3-4 did this year for Houston, and let's hope something similar happens to the Falcons.
Atlanta definitely has the offense to be a constant competitor in the NFL, and they may have just hired the guy that can give them the same thing on defense.