United States Football League
Mike Nolan brings disciplined approach to Michigan Panthers
United States Football League

Mike Nolan brings disciplined approach to Michigan Panthers

Updated Mar. 17, 2023 9:53 a.m. ET

With former Michigan Panthers head coach Jeff Fisher stepping down due to personal reasons, the franchise found a detail-oriented coach to take over in longtime NFL defensive guru Mike Nolan.

Nolan worked as a head coach before in the NFL for the San Francisco 49ers and should have little problem transitioning to his new role as the lead man for the Panthers.

"Making players better and helping them achieve their goals, whether it’s a weekly basis for a game or a season basis, that’s what’s appealed to me," Nolan said. "With all my experience, I think I can contribute to a young person’s development. And I’ve tried to hire coaches that have that same goal in mind."

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Offensive coordinator Eric Marty will remain in that role again this season. Nolan brought in Steve Brown to work as his defensive coordinator, a former NFL defensive back who last served as a secondary coach for East Tennessee State. 

"One my targets as far as hiring the coaches to coach our guys is to get guys not with scheme experience so much, as guys that have good technical experience," Nolan said. "Guys that can help young players improve their skills so that they play well. That’s where we will spend the majority of our time, trying to make the individual player better, therefore our team will be better." 

In terms of personnel, the team’s leading rusher in Reggie Corbin returns. Competing for the starting quarterback job from last season’s roster will be Josh Love.

The Panthers will play their home games in Detroit at Ford Field, part of the USFL’s expansion into four different hubs for the second season. Along with Detroit, host cities include Memphis, Canton, Ohio and Birmingham.

The Panthers play their first home game in Week 3 on April 30 against the Pittsburgh Maulers. That begins a four-week slate of games at Ford Field for Michigan.

"I like being in Detroit," Nolan said. "I think the people of Michigan have always supported their teams extremely well. And win, lose or draw they’ve been good. I don’t know about the other teams, but I’m glad I’m in Michigan."

Nolan will be charged with turning things around for a Michigan team that finished 2-8 under Fisher last season. However, the Panthers did earn the No. 1 selection in this year’s USFL draft by defeating the Maulers in the last game of the regular season. 

Nolan is one of three new coaches joining the USFL, along with Ray Horton with the Maulers and John DeFilippo with the New Orleans Breakers. He’ll lean on a disciplined, hands-on approach to improve on last year’s result for the Panthers. 

"Good coaches a lot of times will bring out a real confident personality in a player because they’re confident in the job that they have to do — because they feel like they are well-prepared," Nolan said. "And that’s a goal of most every team and every coach. The one that accomplishes it the best, I think wins more games than the others. And obviously, good players make a difference, without question." 

Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.

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