FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said on Tuesday that he was “flattered” to have talked with the Philadelphia Eagles about their vacant head coaching position last week and praised the organization.
Also, Falcons director of player personnel Dave Caldwell was hired by Jacksonville as the Jaguars’ new general manager. Caldwell’s agent Brian Ayrault tweeted, “Congrats to client Dave Caldwell on reaching an agreement in principle with Jacksonville to become their next General Manager.”
It marks the second time in two seasons that a member of the Falcons’ front office has left to become a general manager. Last year, Les Snead left to take that job with St. Louis.
All three of the Falcons coordinators have interviewed for vacant positions and they were made available to the media for the first time on Tuesday since doing so.
Nolan served as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers for parts of four seasons, posting marks of 4-12, 7-9, 5-11 and 2-5. In that final season of 2008 he was replaced in midseason by Mike Singletary. A long-time defensive coordinator in the league, Nolan’s units annually rank among the NFL’s best.
This year, the Falcons ranked fifth in the league in scoring defense at 18.7 points per game and they tied for fifth in the NFL in turnover margin at plus-13 with Nolan’s defense generating 31 takeaways.
He has helped make the Falcons’ defensive backfield from a liability to a strength, as both Thomas DeCoud (six interceptions, tying him for fifth overall in the NFL) and William Moore had Pro-Bowl caliber seasons, though neither earned a berth. His ability to teach the players and get his message across has been a strength.
“It’s a bye week and you have an opportunity to talk with somebody,” Nolan said of the process. “I’m flattered that they wanted to talk and I enjoyed it. Hopefully, we keep playing and so the process will be a long one.”
He said a second interview has not been set up.
He then lavished praise on Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, the organization and the job that outgoing coach Andy Reid did.
“Like I said, it’s flattering when someone wants to talk to you, at least I think so, and especially someone like Philadelphia, which is a great organization,” Nolan said. “They have a tremendous owner, much like we do here. Whoever ends up with that job is going to do a good job and I also appreciate the fact that it is a great organization. They don’t change coaches very often. It’s been 14 years since they changed the last time and that’s a credit to the entire organization, not just Andy, who I think is a hell of a coach.
“It’s a real credit to them. So all I really say is for someone, it’s going to be a great opportunity to be with a great organization, a great owner and all those good things. Hopefully, we’re still playing so we keep on playing.”
Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong also interviewed for the Eagles job last week. Armstrong also reportedly interviewed for the vacant jobs with Chicago and Kansas City, which has been filled by the Chiefs’ hiring of Reid. Armstrong did not want to comment on the process, only saying he was concentrating on Sunday’s divisional round playoff game with Seattle at the Georgia Dome.
Finally, Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter also interviewed with the Eagles and with Cleveland before signing a contract extension that will keep him in Atlanta through 2014.
Koetter spoke for the first time on Tuesday as to why he elected to remain with the Falcons.
“Just plain and simple: I love working with the guys I work with,” Koetter said. “From (owner Arthur) Blank down to (general manager Thomas Dimitroff), (head coach Mike Smith), the offensive coaches and the players and you don’t get very many chances in your coaching career to be on a team that has a chance to go all the way and I’m just excited to be part of it.”