FLOWERY BRANCH — The Atlanta Falcons already play more defense in the nickel package than they do in their base defense. If new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan‘s comments Wednesday can be taken to heart, Atlanta’s new “base” defense may be the nickel.
“I think people going forward will put a lot of emphasis on having, for example, there’s typically four starting DB’s, but I think the future looks like it’s going to be five starting DB’s if these quarterbacks keep doing what they’re doing,” Nolan said in a conference call to the media.
Two quarterbacks the Falcons faced this season eclipsed the 5,000 yard mark, Drew Brees with 5,476 and Matthew Stafford with 5,038. Tom Brady threw for 5,235 yards making this the first time in NFL history that three passers broke the 5,000-yard plateau.
As the NFL continues to become a passing league, Nolan thinks it’s time to beef up the secondary. In addition to upgrading personnel, another way to bolster a defensive backfield is to add more players.
“I think the secondary is one of the most important areas today, more than it was 15-20 years ago just because of the quarterback play nowadays,” said Nolan. “There are probably more good quarterbacks in the league than there’s ever been and naturally outside of pass rush, the secondary is where the quarterback attacks you the most. It’s really important to have a good secondary.”
While Nolan said it was too early in his Falcons tenure to talk about individual personnel or whether Atlanta will switch from zone to man coverage, this statement about running with five players in the secondary is telling of what he may bring to the table once he arrives in town.
Nolan said he’ll be in Atlanta Thursday to get started.