Nolan served as defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins the past two seasons. This past year, the Dolphins were the 6th ranked scoring defense and 15th ranked total defense. Prior to joining the Dolphins, Nolan spent a year as the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos, where they ranked 7th in total defense and 12th in scoring defense. Prior to that, he was the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers for four seasons, compiling an 18-37 record. Before taking the 49ers job, he was the Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator for three seasons. The Ravens were a Top 10 scoring defense for the latter two years he was. He joined the Ravens coaching staff in 2001 as their wide receivers coach. For 2001 and 2002, he coached alongside current Falcons head coach Mike Smith. Prior to joining the Ravens, he was the defensive coordinator of three different teams: New York Giants (1993-96) under former Falcons head coach Dan Reeves, Washington (1997-99), and New York Jets (2000). Prior to joining the Jets, he coordinated 4-3 defenses, and since then he has worked primarily with 3-4 defenses.
It is not known if the Falcons will continue with their 4-3 defense, or try and transition to a 3-4 scheme. The last time the Falcons were a 3-4 defense, it was in 2002-03 under coordinator Wade Phillips. For much of the 1980s and early 1990s, the Falcons were a 3-4 defense.
Nolan is the son of former San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints head coach Dick Nolan.