It's the end of the zone as we know it.
According to the Atlanta Falcons' official Twitter stream, Brian Van Gorder has accepted the Auburn defensive coordinator job and is gone effective immediately. I fully expected the Falcons to take a hard look at their coordinators, but this completely blindsided me.
Whether BVG saw the writing on the wall and took to college or just saw this as an opportunity he couldn't pass up is something that only the team knows, and it may remain that way. What matters is that he's gone, and the Falcons have a hole to fill.
BVG presided over one of the best run defenses in the league in 2011 and generally put a competent D on the field during his four years in Atlanta. Under his tutelage, players like Curtis Lofton, Corey Peters and Sean Weatherspoon grew into special defenders, and I was incredibly impressed with the defense he put together for the Giants, at least for half the game.
Of course, there were frustrations. His soft zone allowed wide receivers to catch the ball unmolested, wrecking the value of more physical players like Dunta Robinson. The team also failed to put together even a borderline great pass rush in the time he was here. I thought his inability to tighten up the zone or call more creative blitz packages was his great failing.
All in all, though, I'm less happy about this than I suspect many of you are. BVG was a good dude, an endless source of entertainment thanks his sideline screaming and crazy mustache and one of the better defensive coordinators the Falcons have had over the last couple of decades. I hope the Falcons replace him with someone who shares his considerable passion and talent for stopping the run, while improving on his weaknesses.
I wish him well, and hope you'll join me in doing so. The hunt for a new coordinator starts today.