The Denver Broncos on Monday hired Mike Nolan as the team's defensive coordinator.
Nolan, a veteran of 22 NFL seasons, spent the majority of the last four seasons as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, begins his second coaching stint with the Broncos. He guided the Broncos' special teams and linebackers from 1987-92, contributing to a pair of trips to the Super Bowl (XXII and XXIV) as well as an appearance in the AFC Championship Game in 1991.
Nolan has helped seven playoff appearances as a coach, including four postseason appearances as defensive coordinator. He has instructed two Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year winners (linebacker Ray Lewis in 2003 and safety Ed Reed in 2004) and three AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year winners (linebacker Patrick Willis, linebacker Terrell Suggs and linebacker Mike Croel).
Nolan was the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants from 1993-96 before assuming that role with the Washington Redskins from 1997-99 and the New York Jets in 2000. He coached the Baltimore Ravens' wide receivers in 2001 before serving as the Ravens' defensive coordinator from 2002-04. Before coaching in the NFL, Nolan spent six seasons in the collegiate ranks, beginning as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Oregon. He moved to Stanford to become the Cardinal's linebackers/defensive backs coach from 1982-83. He maintained the same role with Rice from 1984-85.
In Nolan's second season as San Francisco's head coach in 2006, the team placed third in the NFC (6th in NFL) in rushing offense (2,172 yards / 135.8 ypg). Three players from that season's squad went to the Pro Bowl: running back Frank Gore (starter), guard Larry Allen (starter) and cornerback Walt Harris. In 2007, the team was led by Willis, who had an NFL-high 174 tackles and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl.
In his first coaching position in the NFL, Nolan helped the Broncos reach Super Bowl XXII as their special teams/linebackers coach. The team's defense placed ninth in yards allowed (4,813) while allowing the seventh-fewest points in the league (288) in 1987. Under his tutelage, linebacker Karl Mecklenburg, earned a trip to the Pro Bowl as well as a spot on the AP All-Pro second team for his performance that season.
In 1988, Nolan maintained his role presiding over the Broncos' special teams and linebackers, helping punter Mike Horan earn a trip to the Pro Bowl and a spot on the AP All-NFL team. Horan placed third in the league averaging 44.0 yards per punt and posted a league-best 37.5 net average. The following season, the team reached Super Bowl XXIV, led by its top-ranked scoring defense (226 points allowed / 14.1 ppg). The team placed third in the league in both total yards allowed (4,407) and passing yards allowed (2,827). Nolan helped Mecklenburg and rookie kicker David Treadwell earn spots in the Pro Bowl while Mecklenburg and safety Dennis Smith (2nd team) appeared on AP All-NFL team.
In 1991, the team reached the AFC Championship Game. The Broncos defense placed third in the league, allowing 235 points (14.7 ppg) while ranking fifth in yards allowed (4,549 / 284.3 avg.) and third in passing yards allowed (2,755 / 172.2 avg.). Two of Nolan's pupils earned postseason accolades as linebacker Mike Croel garnered AP Defensive Rookie of the Year honors while Mecklenburg made his fifth trip to the Pro Bowl.
In the first of Nolan's four seasons as the New York Giants defensive coordinator, Nolan guided a defense that allowed a league-low 205 points (12.8 ppg) en route to advancing to a NFC Divisional Playoff Game.
After his four seasons with the Giants, Nolan became the Washington Redskins' defensive coordinator (1997-99). In his first season, the Redskins defense ranked third in the NFL in passing yards allowed (2,818 / 176.1 avg.) en route to an NFC East title and a victory over Detroit in a Wild Card Playoff Game.
In his one-season stint with the New York Jets, the team's defense improved from 21st in 1999 to 10th in the league in total yards allowed in 2000.
In 2001, Nolan became the Baltimore Ravens' wide receivers coach before being tapped to be the team's defensive coordinator the following season.
In Nolan's first season as Ravens defensive coordinator, the defense featured eight rookies and, despite losing linebacker Ray Lewis to a shoulder injury in October, led the league with a then-team-record 25 interceptions and ranked second in the league allowing 3.7 yards per rush. In 2003, Nolan was named Football Digest's NFL Assistant Coach of the Year and earned a spot on USA Today's All-Joe Team after the defense was among the league's best finishing third in yards allowed (4,341 / 271.3 avg.) and fourth in rushing yards allowed (1,536 / 96.0 avg.). The Ravens led the league with 47 sacks and 17 fumble recoveries while tying for the AFC lead with 41 total takeaways. Lewis earned AP Defensive Player of the Year honors and was the leading vote-getter on the AP All-Pro team (49 of 50 votes) while safety Ed Reed was one of eight Ravens to earn trip to the Pro Bowl and linebacker Terrell Suggs was named the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year for setting the team's rookie-record with 12 sacks.
In 2004, his last season as Baltimore's defensive coordinator, the team featured four defensive Pro Bowlers, including the AP Defensive Player of the Year, safety Ed Reed, to earn Nolan Football Digest's Assistant Coach of the Year recognition for the second consecutive season. The team ranked sixth in the league in total yards allowed (300.2 per game), 10th passing yards allowed (195.1 per game), tied for eighth in the league in rushing yards allowed (105.1 per game) while ranking sixth in points allowed (16.6 ppg).
Nolan began his coaching career in 1981 at the University of Oregon after finishing his playing career as a three-year letterman in football and competing in Denver's 1981 training camp as a defensive back. Nolan is the son of former NFL head coach Dick Nolan (San Francisco and New Orleans). He and his wife, Kathy, have four children: sons, Michael and Christopher and daughters, Laura and Jennifer. Nolan, who attended Woodside High School in Woodside, Calif., was born March 7, 1959, in Baltimore, Md.