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Mike Nolan hired by Chargers, moves on after tumultuous 3 year stint in Atlanta

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The Falcons have Richard Smith as their new defensive coordinator (tentatively, anyways), and Mike Nolan has moved on.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Chargers have hired Mike Nolan as their linebackers coach.

Nolan had spent the three previous years coordinating the Falcons' defense. He oversaw an opportunistic unit in 2012 that helped the Falcons get to the very cusp of a Super Bowl, but over the last two seasons, the unit was wracked by injuries and attrition and became one of the NFL's very worst. Nolan was frequently derided for failing to play some young players and for developing a scheme that led to very little in the way of a pass rush and not much more of anything else. Whether you primarily blame personnel issues—which would be entirely fair—it's clear that Nolan couldn't maximize what he was given, and the team's additions of Tyson Jackson and Paul Soliai without much in the way of gains against the run certainly contributed to his demise in Atlanta. Unfortunately, that will be his Falcons legacy, not the one year everything seemed to work so well.

If you need evidence that Mike Smith and Mike Nolan are viewed as the architects of the Falcons' ruin, you need look no further than their fortunes in the open market. Smith has been concretely linked to a single opening—the Raiders' defensive coordinator job—and Nolan will be less than a defensive coordinator for the first time since 2001. Fair or not, they'll likely need to rehabilitate their images elsewhere before they get shots as a head coach and defensive coordinator, respectively.

Regardless, we wish Nolan well.