Ryan Nielsen held his introductory press conference on Monday, giving us our first opportunity to hear from the new Falcons defensive coordinator, and that alone would’ve made for a busy day. It turns out Nielsen and the Falcons are also adding a new face to the coaching staff.
That would be Dave Huxtable, who John Brice at FootballScoop writes is joining Atlanta as a senior defensive assistant coach after spending the past two seasons as a defensive analyst with Alabama. The hyper-experienced 66-year-old had spent his entire career in college, but has been a defensive coordinator at a half-dozen stops, including stints with Pittsburgh, North Carolina State, North Carolina, and the University of Central Florida. This is his first stint in the NFL, but he’s been coaching defense for four decades now.
As you’d expect, there’s an element of familiarity here, as well. Huxtable was the defensive coordinator for NC State all three seasons when Nielsen was the defensive line coach and run game coordinator there, so the two have coached together before and Nielsen undoubtedly respects his former boss. In Atlanta, Huxtable, longtime linebackers coach Frank Bush, and recent assistant head coach/defense hire Jerry Gray will provide a wealth of experience for Nielsen to draw on as he builds his staff and adjusts to a job he’s holding for the first time.
That’s all to say that Huxtable’s track record and familiarity with Nielsen suggests he’s another strong hire, one who should be able to help Nielsen hit the ground running in his first season as the Falcons’ defensive coordinator. There are more hires yet to be made here, but the early returns on this staff look promising. Soon it will be time for Atlanta to add the kind of talent that will make their jobs easier.