Nolan Happy With Jerry’s Progress

Nolan Happy With Jerry’s Progress

Jay Adams

Published September 4, 2012 at 6:20 PM

Falcons coordinators Dirk Koetter, Mike Nolan and Keith Armstrong spoke to the media Tuesday. Below are some of the highlights from their conversations about Sunday’s game against Kansas City.

Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan

  • Nolan is extremely impressed with Kansas City offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, calling him one of the sharpest coaches Nolan has ever been around. The two worked together on Tony Sparano’s staff in Miami last year, with Nolan as the DC and Daboll as the OC. So, to say the least, there’s some familiarity there.
  • Asked about how excited he was to unleash the defense after the preseason, Nolan — tongue firmly planted in cheek — said he showed everything he’s got during the preseason. Continuing with the mantra started Monday, Nolan echoed head coach Mike Smith’s comments by saying you’ll have to watch the game to find out.
  • Nolan said linebacker Akeem Dent has done a “very good job,” and has been very impressed with how Dent has produced despite not seeing much defensive action last year. “All indications to me are that he’s going to be a good, solid player,” Nolan said. Nolan sees Dent right now as a two-down player, but in time said he could turn into a three-down backer.
  • Asked if there was a player on his defensive line who’s not a starter that he expects to make a big impact, Nolan pointed to Peria Jerry (who will be starting for Corey Peters for at least the first six weeks of the season). Nolan said his expectations for Jerry coming into camp were “in limbo,” but he soon found confidence in the young defensive tackle. Nolan tempered his comments about rookie Travian Robertson, saying “if he gets a shot to go in there (Sunday), we’ll see. We don’t want to give him too many chances, but we’ll give him a few, I think.” More of Nolan’s well-played sarcasm.

Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter

  • Asked how important he thought it was that he and Matt Ryan create a strong relationship from the beginning, Koetter expressed that he believed it to be extremely important from a communication standpoint and called communication one of Ryan’s best traits. Koetter said Ryan keeps asking him to go golfing, but knowing how good Ryan is at the sport, Koetter laughs and says he keeps making up excuses as to why he can’t go.
  • Koetter knows that backup quarterback Luke McCown can get up to speed quickly when it comes to the things he’s missed by not being with the Falcons throughout training camp. McCown and QB coach Glenn Thomas have been having extra meetings to get on the same page and the process is going very well.
  • Koetter likes the consistency that Michael Palmer and Tommy Gallarda provide behind Tony Gonzalez. Calling them both consistent, steady players, Koetter said the two are role players who are asked to be the same player day in and day out.
  • Koetter admitted the Falcons purposely held things back during the preseason, as every team does. He said he’s excited about showing more of the playbook on Sunday. “You’ve got that little fear of the unknown, but you’ve just got to put your players out there, give them the tools to play fast and just trust that your guys can make plays,” he said.”
  • Koetter knows that he won’t have to prepare for Kansas City Pro Bowl linebacker Tamba Hali, who is serving a suspension during Week 1. But with the Chiefs defense a bit banged up, it’s unknown right now who will play Sunday and who won’t. Regardless, Koetter says he’s preparing as if the Falcons will face everyone who’s healthy, with the exception of Hali.

Special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong

  • Armstrong likes the velocity that new long snapper Josh Harris puts on the ball and says the team is excited that he’s on the roster.
  • The biggest improvement in punter Matt Bosher’s game, Armstrong said, is his attention to detail on specific technique. Armstrong believes the amount of time he’s put in on focusing on technique has helped him quite a bit. Armstrong says Bosher has a bit of a “fraternity” going with other punters in the league as they spent significant time together in the offseason working on different things.
  • In scouting the Chiefs, Armstrong says the Kansas City special teams units “are big, and they can run.” Sound and well-coached, Armstrong believes the physicality the Chiefs have in that phase of the game will be a big challenge for the Falcons.
  • Going through a list of cover players who he thought had solid preseason performances, Armstrong mentioned Robert James, Drew Davis (practice squad) and Antone Smith.
  • Armstrong said kick returner Jacquizz Rodgers will be “a pleasant surprise” for Falcons fans. Noting the way Quizz sees the field and reads blocks, Armstrong has a lot of confidence in his abilities at that position.
  • From the backup defensive ends, Armstrong is particularly impressed with second-year player Cliff Matthews. Matthews creates plenty of mismatches with his size and Armstrong really likes that about his abilities on special teams.
  • Many people have asked about the decision to let Dominique Franks go and Armstrong was quick to point out Tuesday how impressed he was with Robert McClain on special teams. Competing in several different areas, McClain showed a lot of versatility that gave him the stamp of approval on Armstrong’s side of things.

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