According to an ESPN report, current Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is a candidate to take over the same position with the Arizona Cardinals. Nolan would be replacing Todd Bowles, who was a candidate to become the Falcons next head coach before accepting the head job with the New York Jets last week.
Nolan finished his third season as the Falcons defensive coordinator in 2014 and was not expected to return upon the dismissal of head coach Mike Smith three weeks ago. Given recent reports that presumptive head coach Dan Quinn will hire a defensive coordinator from among the Seattle Seahawks staff, Nolan’s future almost certainly lies outside Atlanta.
The Falcons defense saw a progressive decline over the three years that Nolan coordinated the defense. They finished fifth in scoring defense in 2012, his first season in Atlanta, but failed to finish above 27th the past two seasons in points allowed. Their best finish in total defense was 24th also in 2012.
The 2014 Falcons defense finished last in the NFL in yards allowed, marking only the second time that a Nolan-coordinated defense had such a low finish. The last time that occurred was during Nolan’s first season as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers in 2005.
Including the Falcons, Nolan has served as a defensive coordinator for 14 seasons with six different teams dating back to 1993. He also spent three and a half years as the head coach of the 49ers from 2005-08, compiling an 18-37 record in that span. Six times over the past two decades has a defense coordinated by Nolan finished among the top 10 teams in yards allowed. Eight times has a Nolan-coordinated defense finished in the top 10 teams in points allowed.
Should Nolan become the defensive coordinator of the Cardinals, he will inherit a defense that finished fifth in scoring defense and 24th in total defense under Bowles.