FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Mike Nolan has no plans to switch the Atlanta Falcons to a 3-4 scheme in his first year as defensive coordinator.
During job discussions earlier this week with head coach Mike Smith, Nolan agreed that the Falcons were better suited to stay with a 4-3, which deploys four linemen and three linebackers, instead of switching to his preferred 3-4.
As Nolan sees it, Atlanta doesn’t need an overhaul to become an elite defense. He shared similar thoughts with Smith as the two watched film together and discussed philosophies.
“If I felt like it could easily be tweaked to go to something else because I felt it could be better, I would obviously suggest it,” Nolan said during a teleconference on Wednesday.
“But I think the track they’ve been on is a good one.”
Nolan has spent 14 years as an NFL coordinator, using the 4-3 for seven years and the 3-4 for seven.
However, the 3-4 has grown in popularity in the past 10 years as yards passing have continued to soar in recent years.
Today, half the league runs a 3-4. Nolan used it effectively during recent career stops in Miami and Denver, where he worked as coordinator the past three years, and in San Francisco, where he was head coach for four years beginning in 2005.
“There are probably more good quarterbacks in the league than there has ever been,” Nolan said. “Outside of pass rush, the secondary is where the quarterback attacks you the most. It’s real important to have a good secondary.”
If Nolan can match the numbers Miami produced last season, it will be a good start for the Falcons.
The Dolphins allowed the sixth-fewest points in the NFL (19.6 per game), ranked third in rushing yards allowed (95.6) and tied for 10th with 41 sacks.
Atlanta ranked sixth against the run, but the Falcons finished 18th in points allowed and 20th in total defense.