The Atlanta Falcons today announced that Mike Nolan has been hired as the team's defensive coordinator. Nolan is one of the most experienced defensive coordinators in the NFL, having served in that capacity for over 14 seasons.
"Mike Nolan is an established coordinator in this league," said Falcons head coach Mike Smith. "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."
Nolan spent the last two seasons as the Miami Dolphins' defensive coordinator. In 2011, 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 League 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.
Nolan spent four seasons in Baltimore from 2001 to 2004, including the last three as the defensive coordinator. Nolan's group tied for the NFL lead in takeaways (106) while ranking fifth in the league in both points per game allowed (18.8) and third down percentage (34.7). He also coached five Ravens defenders to nine trips to the Pro Bowl, while tutoring back-to-back AP Defensive Players of the Year in LB Ray Lewis (2003) and S Ed Reed (2004).
The New York Giants made Nolan the NFL's youngest defensive coordinator in 1993 at the age of 34. He spent the next eight seasons as a defensive coordinator with the Giants (1993-96), Redskins (1997-99) and Jets (2000). In his first year with the Giants, his defense led the League allowing just 12.8 points per game. His coaching career began at his alma mater, Oregon University, where he served as a graduate assistant in 1981. He went on to coach at Stanford University and Rice University as a linebackers and defensive backs coach before the Denver Broncos hired him to be the special teams/linebackers coach in 1987. He spent six seasons with the Broncos and helped the team reach the Super Bowl in the 1987 and 1989 seasons.