The next head coach for your Kansas City Chiefs: Mike Nolan?
While I'm fully aware that our GM choice with the potential firing of Scott Pioli will ultimately be the most important part of making the choice of Mike Nolan as head coach as successful as possible, I am really liking the idea of pairing Mikey with a sound personnel evaluator at GM and letting Mike do what he does best as a coach: make a team tough, hard-nosed, and aggressive in their attack.
Looking at Nolan's history in the league, he comes from the coaching tree of Dan Reeves, expected future Hall of Fame coach. He has had success everywhere he has been a defensive coordinator, including New York Giants, Washington Redskins, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins and currently Atlanta Falcons. Nolan's defenses on those teams were consistently top ten in scoring defense, allowing fewer points than the 2/3 of the league every season.
This article here written after Nolan's hiring in Miami in 2010 showcases some of his past accomplishments and the team's defenses before and after Nolan's tenure. Just about every stop, save for Baltimore maybe, has seen major improvement when he arrived and clear regression when he left. Both of his seasons in Miami saw them top 15 in yards allowed and top 10 in points allowed. Atlanta's defense this year, while giving up some yardage, is very good in points allowed, currently 4th in the league, and that is a common trend in every Nolan coached defense: they just don't give up a lot of points. With 3 current/former Pro Bowlers on this defense (I say former because while there is justifiable arguments that they probably shouldn't have made it this season, they are of high enough quality to see why they did) and at least 2 more that probably deserved to go (Houston smoking the opposition and the continually and vastly underrated Flowers), I can't see any reason why the low points allowed trend from Nolan wouldn't continue with this team. He also runs a 3-4 defense, so there wouldn't be a concern of massive turnover of players and learning a new scheme. Continuity is our friend.
I will definitely cede that Nolan's stint in San Francisco as head coach wasn't stupendous, and after seeing Grandpa Teddy Bear Crennel driving the truck of hot garbage juice once again as head coach after bang-up jobs as defensive coordinator in New England and KC, I can understand some trepidation with Nolan. However, Mike was given total football operating control and player personnel decision making despite being a life-long assistant coach. He was Josh McDaniels before Josh McDaniels became Josh McDaniels...it makes sense, trust me. Mike missed on his first big move as head coach and chief player personnel director in San Fran with drafting a very underwhelming at-the-time Alex Smith, over Aaron Rodgers, I might add, because reports were Mike didn't think Aaron would jive well with his personality and coaching style. Whatever you say, Mikey. While coaching has been a big part of Alex Smith becoming servicable recently, I remember seeing a few games with Smith under center for Nolan, and I vividly recall Smith bouncing passes to his receivers and being extremely inaccurate. There was some fuss between the two of them regarding an alleged "shoulder injury" that Smith had, which lead to his benching, but Jim Harbaugh must be an amazing QB coach (or have someone under him that is) because I don't know how you teach arm strength and accuracy well enough to bring Smith up from the Pop Warner skill-set he displayed in his first few seasons with San Fran.
However, despite not having success finding a QB, he was responsible for/major part of drafting San Fran superstars Patrick Willis, Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Joe Staley and Dashon Goldson, along with getting Justin Smith to sign with the team as a free agent in 2008. I would say that was a pretty good job in handling player personnel through his time with the team. Some could even say that Harbaugh is taking full advantage of the team that Nolan left him. Apparently its not that easy or everyone would be doing it, right, Pioli?
Overall, Mike knew his GM performance wasn't up to par, evident in the product on the field, so he gave up his level of control with no fuss after a couple of seasons. That is why I see the incredible importance of teaming Mike with a knowledgable and hopefully seasoned GM/personnel guru that can allow Mike to share his input on players but squash any "I don't think he would fit well with my personality" crap. What is this, online dating? Shut up, Mike, you are a head coach that has to deal with grown men making lots of money playing a game. Figure out what makes every player tick and how to get to them, just like you do so well as a coordinator. It's no different, just on a larger scale.
With that said, the GM should find a good OC to help Mike as well. Mike had no issues going out and getting great coordinators to help on the offensive side while in San Fran since defense was his forte. He hired proven commodities in Norv Turner and Mike Martz, among others, to run the offense during his time in San Fran. I feel confident that without the extra stress of general managing and overall player personnel decisions, along with this established OC, his focus can be where it would be most effective: coordinating the defense and overall game plan.
All-in-all, Mike is still young, just 54 by the start of the 2013 season, highly experienced and proven as a coach in the NFL, with room to grow. His youth shows that he can still connect with the players, which I believe is the most important part of being a coach. And he's darn good looking too, which is important to some people. I know I wouldn't be a member of AP if it wasn't for Chris's stunning mustache, so looks count for something, amiright? So that is my case for the highly successful, aggressively talented, vigoursly youthful, dashingly good-looking Mike Nolan for the head coach of our Chiefs.
I leave you with this. The guy can look good even while slightly grimicing from Patrick Willis punching him in the stomach as hard as he could. It also shows how tough he is because he barely felt it
He obviously has no problem holding his players accountable, as he is yelling at Justin Smith, "Hey! Justin! Did you leave a shit on the field???!!! Unacceptable!"
And it was clear that he knew an idiot when he saw one. He is thinking at this exact moment, "It reflects poorly on me that I'm your defensive coordinator. I should snatch that hat off of your head and shove it down your throat, effectively and immediately ending this relationship."
Seriously, the guy looks like a damn superhero with his suit blowing in the wind.
And for all of you believing that Romeo's failures would translate directly to Mike here in KC due to the similarities in their careers as coordinators and head coaches, I say to you this: Mike Nolan is god-damn Jedi. He's a Jedi Knight sir, and the next time you see him, he's gonna be slitting throats. (Seriously, if you haven't seen "The Change-Up", stop what you are doing and go watch it. You're welcome.)