- Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer
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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Much was made of Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan's decision to leave the coaching box and be on the sideline last Sunday.
Nolan plans to do the same this week at Arizona. Then he'll decide week-to-week whether or not to continue the same regime.
Some wondered if Nolan's presence truly made a difference for a defense that showed improvement against Tampa Bay thanks to some timely blitzes, yet still had a few hiccups. Nolan refused to pat himself on the back for the transition. He did, however, believe it helped him in terms of communicating with his players.
"We do have a young group, and I thought in calling the game, I'm much more helpful if I can be on the field to do that same thing because I can relay the things that I have to people right there in their face," Nolan said. "I wasn't leaving anything behind by leaving the booth."
Nolan was asked to assess the results of the move following his team's 31-23 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"Well we won the game, I feel good about that," he said. "If we hadn't won the game, I'd probably be back up in the booth."
Nolan illustrated the benefit of being on the field rather than on the sideline. The Falcons started three rookies and played four others.
"When you're up in the booth, the only way I can communicate with the guys is to get on the phone, get somebody to get them to the phone, and talk to them," Nolan said. "Well, they're tired. They want to sit. For them to have some guy come and say, 'Hey, coach wants you on the phone,' they go up and get the phone, they don't know when they're walking to the phone what they're going to get. They don't know if they're going to get somebody yelling in their ear. Plus there's not that face-to-face, 'Listen, here's what's going down.'
"When you're on the sidelines with all the players, if I had something on my mind I want to tell ... like in the booth, I might only call down 15, 20 percent of the time. I also put myself in their shoes. I want to leave them alone because they're in the game. When you're on the field, if there's something on my mind, I can go over and share with a guy.''
Nolan related his thoughts to a specific game situation.
"We're getting ready for two-minute (drill), I know what I'm going to call ... I can't call everybody on defense (from the box) and say, 'Hey guys, here are the calls. Everybody get ready.' So this way, I can group them all up, 'Here's what you're look at. I'm calling this, this, and this.' "
Time will tell if the defense will continue to respond to Nolan's presence.