In less than 48 hours, we've talked a lot about the hiring of Mike Nolan to be the Dolphins' defensive coordinator. But I thought it would be a good idea to highlight the opinions of those who spent the 2009 season watching Nolan's defensive unit in Denver week in and week out.
That's why I reached out to the best Broncos blog, Mile High Report. Founder and managing editor John Bena was nice enough to share some thoughts on Nolan and the kind of defense he runs. Below is what John told me, in his own words.
Dolphins fans are going to be very happy with Mike Nolan. His defense more closely resembles the Parcells' 3-4, than the iteration the Bill Belichick now runs - more attacking, more blitzing, more man-coverage. I got the opportunity to watch Nolan work with his defense during Training Camp last season, and let me tell you, any impression you have of the guy from his days in San Francisco, forget them. Mike Nolan was always moving, constantly engaged in the drill, constantly TEACHING. That was the most impressive thing to me, watching him teach his players. Nolan is a great communicator, and he knows defenses.
Nolan recognizes the strength of the defense and will play to it. For Denver, that was the DBs, so blitzing more seemed appropriate. It worked early in the season, but it is a risky tactic - blitz and don't get there, big plays will follow. I don;t think there was a divide between Josh McDaniels and Mike Nolan, just a difference in defensive philosophies. That philosophy, however, saw Elvis Dumervil notch 17 sacks, saw the Broncos end up a +7 in turnover margin and saw the defense go from 29th in the NFL to 7th.
Coaches need to go where they are comfortable, and for Nolan, that is Miami. I wish him the best, and feel strongly that the Dolphins made a great decision.
That's all positive news, folks. The part about how Nolan loves blitzing and attacking is music to my ears. And it gels with the Boston Herald report that says Josh McDaniels called Mike Nolan into his office after the season "and told him in no uncertain terms his Broncos would not be blitzing next season like they did this year."
Denver's loss. Our gain.
Mike Klis, the Broncos beat writer for the Denver Post, agrees that it's our gain. He told Joe Rose on Wednesday morning:
"Mike Nolan is a good man. It's the Dolphins' gain, that's for sure. The players will really like playing for Mike Nolan. He's not going to set the world on fire, but he can do some things. I don't think you'll lose because of Mike Nolan. But he's bounced around quite a bit. It'll come down to the players. If you have the players, Mike Nolan will do a good job."
Like I said yesterday, now we just got to get Nolan some more weapons.