Falcons add outside linebackers coach to Mike Smith’s staff

AP

Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan primarily coached units that played 3-4 schemes prior to landing in Atlanta, but he has run a 4-3 base defense for head coach Mike Smith over the last two seasons.

The addition of an outside linebackers coach to the squad creates some question about whether there might be some schematic changes coming to Atlanta in 2014. Alex Marvez of FOX Sports reports that the team has promoted Mark Collins from defensive assistant to the outside linebacker position, which was not a position on the Falcons staff in the past.

Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports that there’s been talk from some Falcons players about just such a change and points out a slew of free agents and draft-eligible players who would help facilitate a change in schemes. It’s all speculative, but free agency could wind up telling the story of how the Falcons defense lines up next season.

Marvez also reports that the Falcons have hired former Southern Miss safeties coach Andrew Thacker to replace Collins as the team’s defensive assistant.