The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that the Atlanta Falcons' top two choices to replaced departed defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder are former St. Louis Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo and current Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator and former San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Nolan.
Spagnuolo's name was among the first to emerge as a potential candidate.
Despite his struggles as a head coach in St. Louis. Spagnuolo is high demand for his services as a coordinator, most notably in Philadelphia, where his former employer Andy Reid is looking to possibly replace Juan Castillo, who might be taking the same job in Minnesota. Spanuolo is best known for his New York Giants defensive unit that shut down the undefeated New England Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl - specifically with a pass rush (five sacks of Tom Brady in that game) that the Falcons sorely lack.
Nolan is a proponent of the 3-4 system, and despite many connections throughout the NFL (including coaching the defense in Baltimore for Brian Billick, who is rumored to be a potential offensive coordinator candidate for Atlanta) gained success under former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Reeves, who took Nolan with him from the Denver Broncos to the New York Giants in 1993, starting Nolan's career.