New coordinator Nolan thinks Falcons can soar with 4-3 defense

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Mike Nolan has no plans to switch the Atlanta Falcons to a 3-4 scheme in his first year as defensive coordinator.

During job discussions earlier this week with coach Mike Smith, Nolan agreed that the Falcons were better suited to stay with a 4-3, which deploys four linemen and three linebackers, instead of switching to his preferred 3-4.

As Nolan sees it, Atlanta doesn't need an overhaul to become an elite defense. He shared similar thoughts with Smith as the two watched film together and discussed philosophies.

"If I felt like it could easily be tweaked to go to something else because I felt it could be better, I would obviously suggest it," Nolan said during a teleconference on Wednesday. "But I think the track they've been on is a good one."

Nolan has spent 14 years as an NFL coordinator, using the 4-3 for seven years and the 3-4 for seven.

However, since New England and Pittsburgh were the only teams to run it 10 years ago, the 3-4 has grown in popularity as yards passing have continued to soar in recent years.

Today, half the league runs a 3-4. Nolan used it effectively during recent tenures in Miami and Denver, where he worked as coordinator the last three years, and in San Francisco, where he was head coach for four years beginning in 2005.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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