Jay Glazer is reporting that the Eagles will interview Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan for their open head coaching position on Wednesday.
[Update by JasonB, 12/31/12 7:48 PM EST ] Glazer is now reporting that the Eagles will interview all 3 Falcons coordinators in Atlanta on Friday. We already reported on Dirk Koetter earlier, but will also interview special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong. Makes sense to talk to all of them when they have the chance.
Nolan's name is a bit of a surprise as he's not been amongst that group of "up and coming" assistants you always hear about, but he actually makes for a very intriguing candidate.
For one, he's got loads of experience at every level having been coaching since 1981, the last 25 years in the NFL. He's the son of a former head coach. The man lives and breathes football.
He's been a defensive coordinator for the Jets, Ravens, Broncos, Dolphins and Falcons while spending 3 seasons as head coach of the 49ers. There's no one that can say that Nolan isn't qualified.
He's one of the best defensive minds in the NFL and in a reverse Juan Castillo scenario was even moved to offense one year to coach WRs for the Ravens. This season, his Falcons defense held opponents to just 18.7 points per game, the 4th fewest in the NFL. They also generated 35 turnovers.
The one big drawback with Nolan would be that he already flopped as a head coach in San Francisco. He did manage one playoff appearance there, but he also publicly feuded with his QB Alex Smith about a shoulder injury and of course, drafted Smith over Aaron Rodgers. Nolan was actually hired as coach and GM of the Niners, back when teams actually used to do that.
You can look at this two ways. Either he's a guy who has proven he can't be a head coach, or you can take the Belichick view. Bill Belichick was a great defensive coordinator who flopped in his first head coaching job in Cleveland. He learned lessons from that and in his second shot at a head job he became a hall of famer and built a dynasty.
Now, we could obviously not assume that with Nolan, but it does serve as a major cautionary tale for those that have no time for "retreads." Nolan also fits the exact kind of coach that a famous NYU study on the most desirable coaching candidates identified.
According to the NYU researchers, coaches who were fired or resigned from their first head coaching job often thrived in their second. Since 1992, 35 of these so-called "once-over retreads" have won 57% of their games. That group numbers some illustrious members, including Shanahan (axed by the Oakland Raiders), Belichick (booted by the Browns), Tony Dungy (sacked by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Tom Coughlin (canned by the Jacksonville Jaguars).