Falcons name Ryan Nielsen the next defensive coordinator in Atlanta

Nielsen has been with New Orleans since 2017, most recently serving as the Saints defensive line coach and co-defensive coordinator.  

New Orleans Saints co-defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen is seen before an NFL preseason football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Friday, Aug. 26, 2022, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)

The Falcons have named former Saints co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen as the next defensive coordinator in Atlanta, the team announced on Friday. 

The Falcons interviewed Nielsen on Tuesday, according to a report by NFL Network's Mike Garafolo. Nielsen has been with the Saints organization since the 2017 season.


Nielsen got his coaching start at the college level. He spent two seasons at Northern Illinois and four seasons as the defensive line coach, recruiting coordinator and run game coordinator at North Carolina State. Nielsen left the college ranks to join the Saints coaching staff as their defensive line coach, a position he has held since 2017. It was there that Nielsen met Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot, who spent 18 seasons in the Saints front office.

The Saints defensive front has been one of the league's best for the last decade. Since Nielsen joined the Saints staff in 2017, New Orleans has recorded 281 sacks – that's the second most in the NFL over that span – and finished in the top 10 in sacks in five of the last six seasons.

Also, during Nielsen's time in New Orleans from 2017 to 2020, the Saints put together 55 regular season and postseason games without allowing a 100-yard rusher.

In other news, the Falcons have reportedly parted ways with defensive line coach Gary Emanuel, outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino and secondary coach Jon Hoke.

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