Once the Atlanta Falcons found out that their defensive coordinator, Dean Pees, was going to retire (for a third time), they immediately got to work in their search for Pees’ replacement.
It felt like a process that was going to take some time as they were doing their due diligence early on by requesting interviews with some well-known names. Then they randomly Tweeted out that their “Nielsen rating just went up” which translated to “we just hired our rival’s co-defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen.” But did they jump the gun too quickly?
Why the Atlanta Falcons might have jumped the gun by hiring Ryan Nielsen
We have zero clue what Ryan Nielsen will do for this Atlanta Falcons defense that has been a weakness for a long time. He could either transform them into a formidable unit or continue the sad tradition, but for now, we are going to stick with what we do know.
We know that one of the first names that Arthur Smith and his staff inquired about was the Broncos’ defensive coordinator, Ejiro Evero. They requested to interview him since his future with the organization was murky, but the Broncos ended up denying the request.
The Falcons moved on to interview guys like Brian Flores, Vic Fangio, Steve Wilks, and others. Then one day they announced that they were hiring Ryan Nielsen to be their new defensive coordinator.
Time moved on and here we are in February when the Broncos traded for Sean Payton who agreed to let Ejiro Evero look for a job elsewhere and it didn’t take long for him to land in Carolina to join Frank Reich’s staff with the Panthers.
Now, we sit here and can only wonder whether the Falcons could have landed Evero as their new DC if they had just been a little more patient. So, Arthur Smith will now be game-planning against Evero’s defense twice a year.
What made Evero such an intriguing defensive coordinator was his ability to get his defense to focus on themselves. How difficult would it be to not point fingers at the offense on the other side that was supposed to be unstoppable with Russell Wilson? A defense can only do so much and Evero’s unit did as much as they could even though it was for nothing on a team level.
Evero certainly had talent on his defense in Denver but talent certainly wouldn’t have beaten the mental grind that playing on that defense would have required.
All in all, we can only speculate and we will only know what the right decision was after a handful of games are played. at the very least. Who knows, Evero could have still ended up joining the Panthers who certainly had a more consistent defense last year.
Ryan Nielsen brings his own skills to the table and the fact of the matter is, Arthur Smith hired him for a reason.