One of the worst-kept secrets with the Falcons players this preseason has been their enthusiasm for new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan's scheme. The enjoyment is genuine and the results so far in the preseason have been generally positive.
Attacking. Aggressive. Confusing. All have been said about the new Falcons defense and those sentiments could describe how most football players enjoy playing. Especially linebackers.
Through three weeks of the preseason, the enthusiasm for Nolan's defense hasn't waned with players. When asked how the linebackers enjoy the new approach so far, Stephen Nicholas said they're trying to excel in a system they believe in.
"I like it," Nicholas said. "The system is good. I'm all for it. I think all the guys are buying into it. We're trying to perfect it and make what he's putting on paper come to life. I think the scheme is good and I think my role in it is to be the best I can be in it."
It's fair to say the defense has been a little like the offense this preseason in that they're not showing everything this early. While they're working on certain aspects of the scheme in preseason games, they've kept their poker face on in many other ways.
But even though they haven't shown everything, the linebackers for the Falcons are making plays. Through three games this season, the Falcons LBs have combined for 29 tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss, four QB hits and three passes defensed.
The linebackers see themselves as a major piece of Nolan's scheme, a role they embrace. They're excited about their roles and the upcoming season under Nolan.
"Our main thing is to lead the team and be consistent," Nicholas said. "That's it. If we can do that, we'll get where we need to be."