Dolphins hire Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator |

Dolphins hire Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator

AP Sports Writer

MIAMI – Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan’s stay on the NFL job market was brief.

The Miami Dolphins hired Nolan on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the announcement he was leaving the Denver Broncos after one season.

Nolan replaces Paul Pasqualoni, fired after the Miami defense backslid in his second season. The Dolphins also announced the hiring of former New York Giants assistant coach Bill Sheridan as inside linebackers coach.

Nolan spent four seasons as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, where he went 18-37 before being fired midway through the 2008 season. He has made five stops as an NFL defensive coordinator: Denver, Baltimore (2002-04), the New York Jets (2000), Washington (1997-99) and the New York Giants (1993-96).

Bill Parcells, the Dolphins’ football czar, had the same job with the Jets when Nolan worked there.

Nolan became available after the Dolphins’ courtships of Al Groh and Keith Butler failed to produce an agreement. Groh became defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech, and Butler decided to remain with the Pittsburgh Steelers as linebackers coach.

Miami coach Tony Sparano favors a 3-4 defense, and Nolan converted the Broncos last year to that scheme. Denver improved to seventh in the NFL in defense from 29th in 2008, but the team faded badly and missed the postseason for a fourth consecutive year

In their final four games, the Broncos gave up 122 points. Still, Nolan’s departure was a surprise, and the reason for the split with coach Josh McDaniels was unknown.

The Dolphins also missed the playoffs at 7-9. They ranked 22nd in defense and were prone to giving up big plays.

Miami allowed a franchise-record 140 points in the fourth quarter, most in the NFL. And in the final three games, desperate to stay in the playoff race, the Dolphins fell behind 24-6, 27-0 and 27-10.

Now that the Dolphins have a new defensive coordinator, they can intensify their shopping for linebackers and a free safety. Linebackers Jason Taylor and Joey Porter and nose tackle Jason Ferguson, all in their 30s, are among those who might not be back in 2010.

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