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Published on 01/13/2009 at Tue Jan 13 12:09.
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According to the Denver Post Josh McDaniels has named former San Fransisco 49ers Head Coach Mike Nolan as the defensive coordinator.  “Mike is a very good coach, he’s a good communicator and he’s been around this league for a long time, and he’s been a head coach in this league,” McDaniels said. “All those things are very valuable, and his experience on the defensive side is absolutely a value to any organization.”

Dan Reeves extended his compliments as well. “He just did a phenomenal job for me there,” Reeves said Monday of Nolan’s first stint in Denver. “He’s a great communicator. He’s been around the game all his life. His dad was about as good a defensive coach as there’s ever been in this business.”

This suit wearin’, defensive minded coach has had his fair share of successes and downfalls throughout the years. One of his unusual successes was changing the sideline wardrobe rule. Lindsay H Jones from the Denver Post wrote,

“Nolan’s tenure in San Francisco will be remembered more for his wardrobe choices, though, than for producing standout defenses. Nolan wished to wear a suit on the sidelines, a violation of league rules that coaches wear only Reebok gear. Because of Nolan, the rule was changed.”

Nolan started out his career here as the linebackers coach and then went on to be a defensive coordinator at many teams such as the Giants, Redskins, and Ravens before landing the head coaching job at San Fransisco. Nolan was fired seven games into the 2008 season. Below is a better summary thanks to the Denver Post… again.


Bronco Nation, what are your thoughts? Excited for Mike Nolan? Or angry yet again at Pat Bowlen and crew?

  • ssc

    meh, his record doesn’t look so great. what role did he play in baltimore? can we get some color on what type of defense he plays? notable scheme philosophies?

  • flbronc

    i like it on several levels.
    1. its not dom capers
    2. hes a solid defensive mind and has been associated with some pretty good defenses
    3. he’s not bob slowik
    4. he’s fresh to the organization and will objectively evaluate talent
    5. he has head coaching experience, and provided he and mcd get along professionally he will be a good source of advice for our young hc
    6. from what i gather, he’s pretty no nonsense- which is what our defense needs.
    7. lets face it- we cant bring in another top flight current defensive coordinator (spags, ryan, frazier) due to compensation issues, so this hire is better than hiring some position coach from somewhere else in the league imo

  • flbronc

    ssc- he’s known for a 3-4 i believe

  • Kyle

    “When in doubt, trust Schefter.” = Still true.

  • Jordan C

    I think that he prefers a 3-4, but from McDaniel’s vague language at the press conference last night, they may stick with the 4-3 if they can’t make the personnel fit.

    I, for one, hope and think that they will switch to a 3-4.

  • Jordan C

    Although I have some reservations about his chemistry (trouble getting along with Alex Smith, who may have just been a big baby), I agree with flbronc that Nolan was by far, the best real possibility.

  • East

    ssc –

    His role in Balitimore would be defensive coordinator… as in the head of the defense.

    Nolan has had his ups and downs but I do like his history as a defensive coordinator.

  • Jordan C

    With the exception of his time in Washington and a year in Baltimore (while Ray Lewis was out the whole year – just sayin’), he generally improved defenses. Sometimes it was quickly and sometimes it was slowly.

    Even the numbers at the Niners got better generally, albeit too slowly. I discount the head coaching years anyway. As we’ve discussed, head coaching skills are different entirely.

  • East

    Agreed Jordan C.

    Doesn’t he look so badass in that suit?

  • Danish Denver-fan!

    I agree with flbronco!

    Also i like the suit. Now sporting a suit AND a hoodie on the same sideline…

  • Bob W

    Mike Nolan needs to take us back to the old days of the ORANGE CRUSH DEFENSE and bring back the 3 – 4 defense . Hopefully some of the D players can adapt to it or just move . Just like Robertson who is due to get 4 million roster bonus, no way daddio your out of here.

  • mikebirty


    Enough of all the coach talk, lets just draft and get to training camp.

  • Josh Temple

    Love the picture, it’s very agent Smith.

  • Cutty

    The first big step in the return to Orange crush would be to wear Orange. Dump the blue and lets get back to Orange Crush and Orange Sunday.

  • Rob4Broncos

    To the more knowledgeable minds: what do you think of Jarvis Moss as an OLB in the 3-4? The physical specimen is certainly there; could he end up being as much of an impact in that role as, say, Harrison is for Pittsburgh? Or is that just wishful thinking?

  • MIAbronco

    that may be just wishful thinking, moss is still like 6’6″ 240 pounds, a bit on the light side for that height. harrison is like 6’1″ 260 and can get under those blockers for a solid rush

  • ssc

    @ east: for some reason i thought rex ryan was the DC during those years. maybe because of rex ryan’s own chest thumping, i assumed he was responsible for 2000-on. i wikipedia’ed and noticed that wasn’t the case.

    so chad jackson was dumped by mcdaniels and winborn by nolan? are they both out?

    are nolan’s defenses notable for anything other than base alignment? legwold mentioned that the ravens are known for being particularly adept at targeting specific gaps to overload on blitzes (they actually practice the timing), some commentator mentioned a distaste for spag’s use of DL stunts (i believe he opined you have to have a DE with unusual lateral agility/speed like tuck to make it work, otherwise it just takes too long), dungy was known for basic-but-mistake-free, no-frills tampa2 responsibilities, etc. does nolan have a notable approach?

  • flbronc

    rob- wishful thinking… he may end up contributing, but a star/impact player is a bit too much…. he may develop into a solid player, but thats about it. i’m sure he’ll at least get a shot since we have so much invested in him.

    cutty- i absolutely agree… orange sunday has been gone for too long!

  • J

    ESPN reports that Mays will come back to USC next year so, I guess, we should keep our fingers crossed that Maliuluga falls to 12.

  • jchase8410

    At 6’6″ he has more length to knock down balls, strip the QB, yet still has the same if not more quickness than Harrison. This move would also improve his run stopping game as well. He would have more time to read and react to plays without having to engage an offensive lineman right off the snap. He is definately athletic enough to make that transition…but what do I know?

  • Ian Henson

    I wish Denver wore suits… That’d be bad ass.

  • jcampb72

    that terrible news J, so now I seriously doubt mau will drop to 12, but it really all depends on our defensive scheme this year. If we are going to use a 3-4 we need a big boy nose tackle and that will not be easy to find. I’m stumped but I’m sure Jim and Josh and Mike will decide which way is the best to go.

  • Steven

    I could moss as an olb, but he first needs to stay healthy. Switching to a 3-4 will be at least a 3 year project. In another post someone mentioned that he runs a lot of zone.

  • Jordan C

    “Jim and Josh and Mike”.

    That sounds so weird. I’m not even sure if they are on a first name basis with each other, yet.

    Ian – I agree about the suits. (Most) college basketball coaches look classy with the suit as the standard. Plus it’s not without precedent. Remember Vince Lombardi?

    Or, I might be in favor of a hybrid look – the suit jacket over the hoody. Hmm… Who’s good with photoshop?

  • mark in Carolina

    I, for one, welcome a 3-4 defense. To anyone who says we don’t have the personnel for a 3-4, I’d counter that we don’t have the personnel for a 4-3 either.

    Nolan has had ups and downs, but generally he’s had a positive influence. He’s not the best out there, but the best out there have their sights set on a HC job – a lateral DC move to a rebuilding D would be out of the question.

    Nolan is the safe bet. McDermott or some other positional coach might be a better long term DC choice, but if we are going to roll the dice @ head coach, might as well play it conservative at DC.

  • Roy

    I think Moss in a 3-4 may be serviceable. If he can stay healthy and learn the techniques. He may have to put on somemuscle, but then that would not be a bad thing anyway. I agree that he will probably not blossom into the allstar Shanny thought he could be, but he could an every sunday contributer.

    I am with everyone that they should switch to the orange. Can the fans start a petition or something?

  • Dakota fan

    Here’s a draft day scenario- with Goodman calling personnel shots and the coaching staff (specifically the HC) not so involved with choosing personnel, how will the Broncos draft now? Will they be willing to sacrifice lower picks to move up for quality, or sacrifice the higher round picks for moving down (quantity, higher number of lower round picks)?

    101 days, 21 hours and 51 minutes to the draft, my bretheren. This is going to be a blast!!!

  • MIAbronco

    THANK GOD Mays is staying for another year and mcdaniels wont blow his first year by blowing that pick. Mays has a future, and that future is as a futrue bust.

  • Roy

    I don’t know about that MIA. He is a hell of a player. Another year in college may tasech him how to wrap up and drive with his legs instead of trying to kill whoever is in his vacinity. He would have added a mean streak to our defense though, one that we have been lacking for quite some time.

  • Roy

    Seeing that he is staying though, Denver picks the best d-player available at 12. If not, they try to trade down.

  • Roy
  • broncoNM

    Ouch! Dude that sucks if bates takes off to Oak.

  • DiegoBronco

    i think a 3-4 switsh will be good cause it will give us a chance to put woodyard and williams both on the field as OLB’s. This would allow all of our current play makers like champ and bly to stay on the field along with elvis but add another one in the way of woodyard

  • Bucky

    I cant click on that link just based on its title. makes me a little sick.

  • BroncoinVA9986

    bates will follow shannahan along with kennison….well see my dumb ass was hoping for scott pioli for GM…I think that General Manager is the key to rebuilding this team. I believe that Mcdaniels is just about as talented as Bates but we will see

  • SivNiz

    Sounds like Bowlen know something we didn’t when he hired McD

  • SivNiz

    I saw a part of an interview with Bowlen and it sounded like he WASN’T going to hire a GM and that he was going to give that responsibility to Goodman

  • BroncoinVA9986

    Mike Nolan is a decent pickup I was hoping when they fired nolan in san Fran that singletary wouldn’t get the job he would have been a perfect fit……but we will not know whether MCdaniels or Nolan will be a good fit…..can’t wait till September…this could be a scary time with oakland on the rise and the Chiefs hiring scott pioli…..I believe that San Diego’s days as the Division leader are numbered…….

  • Bucky

    I gotta say, i still don’t think a linebacker in the draft is the best way to go this year (unless curry fell to us, which WILL NOT happen) I think they finally get their premier runner, i know that sounds nuts, but the Defensive side of the ball is loaded with young, fairly inexpensive talent in Free Agency. i think we should land a couple of players through FA, maybe one big signing in a guy like Peppers (pry a long shot, but who knows) and some other lesser knowns at LB like Michael Boley (OLB) and Carlos Dansby or Channing Crowder (MLB). work on the D line by trading down with that first pick, or stay there and get a premier runner, and help the line in the second round (where there might be better NT talent/value anyway).

    Maybe I’m crazy but i think we could put a better overall team on the field that way then just going best available D players in the draft. if Moreno were to fall to us…. i dont know, im just thinking out loud here.

  • Bob W

    Shanny goes to Dallas next year and Bates , Dennison , Turner follow him .

  • jchase8410

    Did anyone see that the DP is reporting that Casey Wiegmann has been selected to the pro bowl?

    “The standout lineman was named to the AFC Pro Bowl team Tuesday. He will replace Tennessee center Kevin Mawae, who tore a tendon in his arm and will miss four months after surgery.”

  • Soxbigdog

    The funny thing is, (and I think it was said somewhere above here too) …. I have read alot of places where people are debating whether they should switch to 3-4 or stay with the 4-3, and some say that “well, they don’t have the right players to match up to the 3-4”, NEWSFLASH, they didn’t have the right guys for the 4-3 either !!!!

    Last year they could have put 12 guys in the box and still not have stopped a QB sneak !

  • Michael

    I’m guess we’ll make the transition to a 3-4. Probably make a lot of moves in the off season to start moving in that direction and run a mix of 4-3/3-4 next season depending on situations until we have all the pieces in place to run a true 3-4 which will probably the 2010 season.

  • T

    Jeff Legwold, of the Rocky Mountain News, reports the Oakland Raiders have received permission to talk with Denver Broncos quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates about a coaching position on the team.
    This may be the reason: Jeff Legwold, of the Rocky Mountain News, reports Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels said he will call all of the offensive plays next season.

  • Steven

    If we had any type of safety play this season we would have won 10 at least. All 4 remaining teams have a great safety. We need a safety. I dont know if theres one who is good value at 12 but we better address that need whatever the system is.

  • MIAbronco

    Mic D is a 10x better play caller then bates. i dont understand why everyone is so upset that he might not be here, WHO CARES. and so what about jay cutler wanting bates around, once he sees how sick he’s going to be playing under mc d’s system hes going to !@#$ a brick.

    even though our offense put up sick numbers, they never finished the job, we had red zone blue balls, i know mc d can fix this problem.

  • Jordan C

    Michael – From what McDaniels was saying at his press conference, whichever scheme is chosen, that’s the way that it will stay. He emphasized consistency.

    Bucky – you and I seem to be on the same wave length more often than not. I was just looking at free agency today, too.

    Assuming that the Broncos move to a 3-4, Peppers is an old dog and may or may not be able to learn the new tricks of a 3-4 OLB. Plus, I’m very wary of signing older free agents and expect anything more from them than depth and teaching. I do like the idea of Channing Crowder or Eric Barton of the Jets as cheaper options.

    In terms of a more premier signing, I have a feeling that the Ravens will not be able to sign both Terrell Suggs (OLB) and Bart Scott (ILB). Signing one or the other would be awesome.

    Other options, if they are not resigned, are Atari Bigby SS and Brian Dawkins FS (I know he’s old, but c’mon, have you seen him play lately?). The thing with Bigby is that even if he is tendered as an unrestricted free agent, since he was undrafted, the Broncos wouldn’t have to give up any draft picks to sign him away, unless they put the franchise tag on him, of course. He’s not worth a 1st round pick.

  • Jordan C

    I know that the draft projections will change a lot with the combine, etc., but looking at the way things generally stand now, there are only three legit NTs in the draft: BJ Raji is projecting in mid round 1. Terrance Cody, if he declares, is projecting in late round 1. And Ron Brace is projecting anywhere from mid round 2 to mid round 3.

    Cody, I think, is unlikely to declare, he may drop since he doesn’t have much experience and there are questions about his stamina. Ron Brace is decent but is clearly not as good as Raji since Brace was Raji’s backup in college. If they feel good about Raji, you need to take him at 12.

    The nice part about drafting nose tackles is that not everybody needs them. It’s easier to predict where they are going to be drafted. I am pretty sure that he will drop to the Broncos at 12. Of the teams that play a 3-4 that draft earlier, the Browns have Shawn Rogers and the Niners have more pressing needs. The next option would be the Chargers at 16 and they could pull the trigger. But, if you’re willing to risk the Chargers not taking him to replace an aging Jamal Williams, then you could trade down to the high teens, because the Cardinals (21), Falcons (24), or Dophins (25) will take him and possibly Cody, also. Then your stuck hoping that a college backup is there for your second round pick and it could be a terrible value. Plus, the second round provides a lot more, better options like safeties, running backs, 3-4 defensive ends, etc.

    In short, I think it would be okay to take Raji at 12 or trade down several spots and take him at 17 or 18. Then, with the extra picks, they can trade back into the second or third round where there are tons of options at better values at other positions of need (read: almost any defensive position).

    Disclaimer: as far as I know, there is a fourth nose tackle, Dixon from Miami, that’s projected to go in the late rounds. Obviously unlikely a pro starter.

  • Richard

    Nolan will be fine, he was linebackers coach under the last years of Joe Collier if I recall correctly. Joe, the inventor of the 3-4 defense and the basis of the Orange Crush, also had a yong asist. coach years earlier named Bill Belichek. Hmmmm.

    As Far as the 3-4 scheme becomming the base system next year, I don’t see it. As I stated in an earlier post we don’t have the personnel to run it. We need to run a 4-3 with some switch ups at times.

    The current players on D have not been able to run any system, and who plays where exactly?

    Don’t kid yourself Moss ain’t a player in either scheme. How well did Dewayne Robertson work out at nose for the Jets? Think he wants to go back to that? Winborn and Engleberger were Nolan castoffs in SF. What future do they have here now? Boss is not going to play here again, even if he recovers from the microfracture surgery. Webster and Nilo? MaCree and Manual? The only talent we have on D is Champ, and he’s what 33?

    We do have some real promise in some of the youngsters like Josh Bell, Jack Williams, Spenser Larson, and Josh Barrett. Carlton Powell is an unknown. Wesley Woodyard’s future with this team is at Strong Safety not linebacker, especially if we do run some 3-4 schemes.

    What was TOTALLY MISSING on last years D was Leadership, Accountability, and Talent. Shanny ignored major problems with the Defense for years and occasionally came up with Brownco bandages. Lets face it folks the cupboard is bare. Rebooting the defense is going to be a multi year project. So give Coach Nolan some time on this one. He has to start from scratch on a defense screwed up by a lack of talent and incompetent DC’s, Bates and Slowik.

  • Garrett Barnes

    I feel out of place here. I hate this suit thing. Good lord get this man something on him that doesn’t look like he is at a cocktail party!