The Falcons have seen multiple assistant coaches and coordinators leave Atlanta to take head coaching gigs. Most notably, Kyle Shanahan coordinated one of the NFL’s most prolific offenses in 2016 and now resides in San Francisco.
On that illustrious 2016 staff, Matt LaFleur and Mike McDaniel worked under Shanahan as assistants and have been elevated to top dogs in Green Bay and Miami, respectively. The next future coach and current coordinator could be Ryan Nielsen.
ESPN’s Dan Graziano named Atlanta’s defensive coordinator a potential head coaching prospect. “Atlanta’s Ryan Nielsen has been viewed as a potential head-coaching prospect and is having a strong season, as well.”
The Falcons investment in that side of the ball, along with Nielsen, has netted immediate results. The Grady Jarrett injury has begun to rear its ugly head in the last couple of weeks against Josh Dobbs and Will Levis, but prior to that, Atlanta’s defense was quietly a top 10 unit in most metrics.
I sincerely doubt Nielsen garners significant interest this hiring cycle with the likes of the Lions’ Ben Johnson, the Bengals’ Brian Callahan, the Texans’ Bobby Slowik, and the Eagles’ Brian Johnson drawing most of the interest among hot rising coordinators. Then, there are the established coordinators who were once head coaches like Dan Quinn.
Nielsen will likely receive interest for head coaching interviews in the coming years, but he’s not going anywhere just yet. Falcons fans can rest assured that he’ll be here in 2024, and I’d even wager he’ll be here in 2025 too.
Photographer: Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire