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Did Mike Nolan's Presence On The Sideline "Spark" The Falcons' Defense?

The Falcons brought their defensive coordinator out of the coaching box.

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

The Falcons were going to need to try some novel things if they were going to beat the Buccaneers, given the way the rest of their season has gone. One of those changes was getting Mike Nolan out of the coaches' box and down on the field, and the Falcons believe it paid dividends.

The question is, did Nolan's presence do anything besides fostering a good feeling among the players? Let's take a look at the stats.

Average Yards Per Game: 366
Against Buccaneers: 365

Average Passing Yards: 267
Against Buccaneers: 256

Average Rushing Yards: 99.7
Against Buccaneers: 111

Average Points Per Game: 26.2
Against Buccaneers: 20

There's a deeper dive to be done here, and you have to point out that the team got 3 sacks, forced a couple of fumbles and so forth. It would appear, though, that the Falcons were pretty in line with their game averages except for points allowed, which does matter. The problem is that the Buccaneers were averaging under 300 total yards and 14.5 points per game coming into Atlanta, so you're not hanging your hat on much.

As noted in the comments, however, the Falcons did see drives extended by penalties and the defense was on the field longer thanks to Robert Alford's punt return fumble. It doesn't totally negate my points here, but it's fair to argue that the Bucs would have had fewer yards and points without those mistakes.

I have no doubt that the Falcons felt like this was a boost for them, and there's a good chance Nolan picked up on some things he wasn't seeing from the coaching box that will help this team going forward. There's just no reason to believe it was a difference maker against the Buccaneers.

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