American Football

Falcons axe 3 defensive assistants in the wake of the Ryan Nielsen hiring


NFL: AUG 22 Preseason - Falcons at Jets
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Defensive backs coach Jon Hoke, outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino, and defensive line coach Gary Emanuel are the coaches who have been let go.

With Dean Pees leaving and Ryan Nielsen just hired as the new Falcons’ defensive coordinator, it was always likely we’d see some turnover in the defensive coaching staff. It appears that turnover is happening immediately, as the Falcons have announced three firings on Friday night.

At the bottom of their story about the team hiring Nielsen, the Falcons announced they’ve parted ways with secondary coach Jon Hoke, defensive line coach Gary Emanuel, and outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino. All three spots are likely to be filled by candidates that Nielsen hand selects, and it leaves respected linebackers coach Frank Bush as the sole holdover position coach under Nielsen’s staff. Bush is coaching as the defensive coordinator in the Shrine Bowl soon for the Falcons.

Hoke, Monachino, and Emanuel all joined the staff when Pees was hired, and are exiting after a pair of underwhelming seasons for the defense. Hoke oversaw a secondary that was ravaged by injuries but did see real year-over-year improvement from Richie Grant and A.J. Terrell truly flourishing, while Emanuel coached up TaQuon Graham and got quite a bit out of a motley crew of undrafted free agents and one-year signings along the defensive line. Monachino, who oversaw a group counted on to rush the passer, didn’t have much luck coaxing that kind of production out of young players like Adetokunbo Ogundeji, Arnold Ebiketie, and DeAngelo Malone.

It’s fair to say, then, that given what they were working with and the solid results they managed, these three coaches are being let go because Nielsen wants his own guys. All three should be able to find roles quickly elsewhere in the NFL or college ranks, and I personally wish them well.

Who might Nielsen hire? Pass rush specialist Brian Young may be on his way from New Orlenas to Atlanta as the new outside linebackers coach, while assistant secondary coach Cory Robinson seems like a logical candidate to join as the secondary coach in Atlanta. I’m less certain about who Nielsen will bring in to coach the defensive line—remember, that’s his specialty and he’ll likely be hands on—but we should know soon enough. Presumably if the Falcons are firing coaches, they have candidates in mind to replace them in short order.

Join me in wishing those coaches well, and we’ll likely get news about new hires in the next week or so.

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