Early Friday evening the Atlanta Falcons named former New Orleans Saints Co-Defensive Coordinator and Defensive Line Coach Ryan Nielsen as their new Defensive Coordinator. Even though the Falcons interviewed guys like Brian Flores, Vic Fangio, and Al Holcomb it shouldn’t come as a surprise to Falcons fans that Nielsen ended up being the guy.
Atlanta Falcons General Manager Terry Fontenot, former front office executive for the Saints, spent four seasons with Nielsen in New Orleans before Fontenot became the General Manager for the Falcons, and now the two will reunite in Atlanta. This hire by the Falcons seems like a move of familiarity by Fontenot and Head Coach Arthur Smith, but that might not be such a bad thing considering the success Nielsen and the Saints had during his time in New Orleans.
Since Nielsen joined the Saints staff in 2017, New Orleans has recorded 281 sacks, that's the second most in the NFL over that span, and finished in the top 10 in sacks in five of the last six seasons. Just like most Atlanta Falcons fans, Jon Chuckery wasn’t necessarily expecting this move by the Dirty Birds either, and he reacted to the hire Friday night on The Jon Chuckery Show.
Jon Chuckery is impressed by some of the guys Nielsen has coached saying “He’s had some good players there on that defensive line over the last handful of years.” Cam Jordan, Marcus Davenport, Trey Hendrickson, and David Onyemata top the list, but the main concern for Jon is the fact that he’s never been a Defensive Coordinator in the NFL before. Jon says “I’m not disappointed, well, I will say I wanted somebody else. I would’ve preferred a Steve Wilks, a Todd Bowles, and especially Vic Fangio.”
Jon would also go on to say “I want somebody whose aggressive, and I know kind of their style and what their going to do, but you know he’s certainly coached some good guys.” Jon Chuckery is optimistic about his familiarity with not only the Falcons but the entire NFC South Division saying “He knows the strengths and weaknesses of this franchise, he certainly knows the strengths and weaknesses of the other NFC South teams…”
However, despite having some other names in mind Jon Chuckery is “open minded to what this defense could be”, and with Nielsen never being an NFL defensive coordinator Chuckery is interested to see what his schemes and gameplans will look like. At the end of the day as long as the Falcons start sacking the quarterback on a more consistent basis Nielsen will be accepted with open arms, by not only Jon Chuckery, but the entire Atlanta Falcons fanbase.