The Atlanta Falcons really laid an egg in 2013. With crucial injuries on both offense and defense, it wasn’t all too surprising to see the depleted Falcons drop to a 4-12 overall record. However, it was a tad surprising to see a reeling Atlanta franchise make a two-year commitment to defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.
In Nolan’s second season with Atlanta, the Falcons were forced to play nearly five rookie starters on the defensive side of the ball. In fact, Nolan was also forced to work with two undrafted rookies at linebacker as Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu took the place of difference-makers Kroy Biermann and Sean Weatherspoon for a large portion of the season. Clearly, any defensive coordinator would struggle under these circumstances.
Thankfully for Nolan, the Falcons’ front office has way more patience then anyone in the Cleveland Browns‘ building does. However, that patience will quickly turn to frustration if Nolan’s group is dreadful once again in 2014.
So while a two-year extension for Nolan might sound crazy considering the Falcons placed dead last in third-down defense and Atlanta finished the year tied for 27th in total defense; Nolan didn’t have a full complement of players, so you can’t read to far into those defensive statistics. Needless to say, if Atlanta surrenders more than six yards per play again in 2014 then Nolan can expect a swift kick in the rear from head coach Mike Smith.