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Mike Nolan, International Coach Of Mystery

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Aug. 24, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan looks on before a game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
Aug. 24, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan looks on before a game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

There's cautious optimism, and then there's just...caution. Mike Nolan favors the latter.

In his latest interview with D. Orlando Ledbetter, Nolan refuses to shed any light whatsoever on what he thinks of the defense. DOL isn't exactly hitting him with probing questions in this article, granted, but Nolan's responses are extremely interesting.

When it’s new like this, it’s always a work in progress. It still is right now because there are things that you practice, every team is this way, you practice things you haven’t shown [in an exhibition game] and have only done in practice. I would say they have progressed pretty well. The guys have responded well to the things we have asked them to do, scheme-wise and technique-wise. I’ve been pleased with that part. It’s nice to face a little adversity in [exhibition] games, which we’ve had. We’ve also had enough success that we feel good about those things. The challenge is always in the season because you get [the opponent’s] full deal. You don’t get it like the preseason when you only get a little bit. I like the group. They’ve worked hard. A little bit of luck and you’ll usually be pretty good. No luck and … better to be lucky than good.

By the time you finish unpacking that, the world will have ended, so let's just admire how full of coach-speak this really is. Throughout the interview, Nolan avoids saying anything truly positive or negative about this team. Instead, he just kind of hopes they'll work hard and progress more than they already have. Huzzah!

He does acknowledge that the defense is a work in progress, and that's what I find interesting. You don't expect a new coordinator to be able to implement his scheme in just a few months without hiccups, and you don't expect to switch guys who have played defensive end out to linebacker without a few speed bumps. I think this is, to some degree, a tacit acknowledgement that things are changing.

Read the whole article and weigh in.