Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen poses for a headshot in Ticketmaster Studios at the Atlanta Falcons headquarters in Flowery Branch, Georgia, on Monday, February 6, 2023. (Photo by Shanna Lockwood/Atlanta Falcons)

Ryan Nielsen

Defensive Coordinator


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.

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