Falcons hire Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator

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The Atlanta Falcons have hired former San Francisco coach Mike Nolan as their defensive coordinator.

Nolan spent the past two seasons as Miami’s defensive coordinator. Prior to that, he served four years as the 49ers head coach.

In all, Nolan has been an NFL coordinator for 14 years. He takes over in Atlanta for Brian VanGorder, who returned to the college ranks to take the same position at Auburn.

The Falcons will have two new coordinators next season. Dirk Koetter was hired to run the offense after Mike Mularkey left to become the head coach at Jacksonville.

COLTS: Indianapolis’ sudden crash has cost coach Jim Caldwell his job.

The Colts stumbled to a 2-14 finish without injured quarterback Peyton Manning. Caldwell ends his Colts’ tenure 26-22 overall. He won his first 14 games and became only the fifth first-year coach to take his team to the Super Bowl.

SAINTS: Sean Payton cannot envision New Orleans taking the field next season without quarterback Drew Brees, who could opt for free agency this winter now that he’s played out his six-year contract.

“I don’t even know if stunned would be a strong enough word,” Payton said, referring to what his reaction would be if Brees left. “I don’t see that happening.”

Brees has thrown for more yards than any NFL quarterback since joining the Saints in 2006 and passed for an NFL record 5,476 yards this season, breaking Dan Marino’s 27-year-old mark of 5,084.

• Former St. Louis Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo agreed to interview with the Saints today for the club’s vacant defensive coordinator job.

RAIDERS: Oakland was given permission to interview Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg for its vacant coaching job.

STEELERS: Assistant coach Kirby Wilson remains in critical condition with burns on more than 45 percent of his body.

The team released a statement from Wilson’s family saying the 50-year-old also suffered a smoke inhalation injury during the Jan. 6 fire at his townhouse in a northern Pittsburgh suburb.


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