In addition to needing a new head coach, the Atlanta Falcons are now looking for some defense coaching help.
That’s because their defensive coordinator, Ryan Nielsen, has accepted a similar position with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He had been the Falcons DC since January 27, last year. In that amount of time, he helped the Falcons improve their defensive ranking from 23rd to 18th in the points allowed per game and 11th from 27th in yards allowed per game. The Falcons also improved their once-middling sack total from 21 in 2022 to 42 last season.
We have hired Ryan Nielsen as defensive coordinator. pic.twitter.com/Am0b6SuXSg
— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) January 22, 2024
Before joining the Falcons, Nielsen was a co-defensive coach for the New Orleans Saints.
Nielsen, known on the field as a no-nonsense defense coach, will replace the Jaguars outgoing coordinator Mike Caldwell, who was nixed after two seasons with the Jags after a disappointing season.
“We’re excited to welcome Ryan and have him lead our defense moving forward,” said Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson, in a statement. “Ryan is an outstanding football coach and his defenses with the Falcons and Saints were always fundamentally sound in both their physicality and concepts. He has the rare ability to both teach and connect with his players.”
The story was broken this afternoon by NFL insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero, per their respective sources. The Jags confirmed the hire on social media later. The Falcons have not officially commented on Neilsen’s departure.