I’m actually going to agree with Woody Paige on this one. Mike Nolan did a great job as defensive coordinator and didn’t deserve a kick to the curb.
Think about the Broncos’ defense in 2008. Do words like dreadful, undisciplined, and touchdown gift wrappers come to mind? That squad gave up 374.6 yards per game (29th overall) and 28.0 points per game (30th overall).
The team was then turned upside down most notably on defense and on the coaching roster. This year’s defense gave up 315 yards per game (7th overall) and 20.3 points per game (14th overall). Keep in mind that the Broncos were ranked higher defensively early on in the season.
Give credit to Mike Nolan (and Josh McDaniels) for the improvements on defense. Nolan had to switch the Broncos from a 4-3 to a 3-4 alignment. He also had 15 new players to work into the system. Throw in some key mid season injuries, and the cards were stacked against him for getting much out of the defense. They forced 30 turnovers compared to 13 the year before, and they were the group that kept the Broncos in many close games as the offense struggled to find any kind of rhythm.
When a season ends like the way it did for the Broncos, the owner/coach needs fingers to point. It’s easy to see the defensive breakdowns that happened at the end of the season when guys like Jamaal Charles rush for 259 yards on the ground and 2 TDs, or the Redskins get almost 400 yards of total offense when they are 2-6.
Don’t get me wrong. The defense needs work. I just think letting Mike Nolan go was the wrong move to make. Just like McD, he needs time to adjust to a new team, new players, and his new role. Former Patriots defensive coordinator, Dean Pees, looks to be a front runner for the job here in Denver. No surprise there.
The New England Denver Broncos are back to square one. The job turnover here is becoming too much. A team needs to let the waves settle before they make major changes. If Nolan were given another season here, I think we would’ve seen a much improved defense. Looks like we’ll never know now.