by Ralph Routon
You had to wonder if the Denver Broncos' defensive troubles in the second half of the 2009 season, as they slid from 6-0 to 8-8 and out of the playoffs, would cost anyone his job.
It just did. Monday afternoon, the Broncos announced that defensive coordinator Mike Nolan was leaving the organization after one year in charge of Denver's defense. The team is characterizing it as a "mutual" decision between Nolan and head coach Josh McDaniels.
The former San Francisco head coach, who also had been a Denver assistant early in his career, had gotten off to a great start last season when the Broncos led the league by allowing just 66 points in their first six games. But after an open date, that defense was never the same, giving up 27 or more points seven times in the final 10 games.
In the disastrous season-ending, 44-24 home loss to Kansas City, the Broncos gave up season highs of 524 total yards and 317 rushing yards.
As a result, Denver in 2010 will have its fifth defensive coordinator in five seasons: Larry Coyer in 2006, Jim Bates in 2007, Bob Slowik in 2008, Nolan last year and now perhaps one of McDaniels' former staff-mates at New England, Dean Pees.