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INSIDE THE FALCONS: VanGorder: 'I'll lean on Smitty a lot'


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By D. Orlando Ledbetter

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 08/03/08

Falcons assistant coach Brian VanGorder is still the loudest person on the practice field. But now, as defensive coordinator, he gets to yell at the entire unit and not just the linebackers. Even the assistant coaches may get an earful if they are slipping up on substitutions. After a recent practice, VanGorder, the former Georgia assistant and Georgia Southern head coach, answered questions from AJC staff writer D. Orlando Ledbetter about his changing role and evolving unit.

Q. How's the transition from being a position coach to defensive coordinator going?

A. I've been a coordinator for a lot of years (in the college ranks) so I'm comfortable with it. I still have a tendency to eye the linebackers quite a bit. So I'm feeling myself out a little bit through that process.

Q. Excited about calling that first game in the NFL?

A. It's a little too far off right now. We're coming out every day and trying to focus every day on installing the defense and just getting better at what we're doing.

Q. Press box or sidelines?

A. Sidelines.

Q. What's the advantage of being on the sidelines?

A. I think that it's a decision that everybody kind of weighs back and forth. I don't think one way or another is really an advantage. I just think my style of coaching as a defensive coordinator, that I would be best suited to be on the sidelines.

Q. You could have some pretty young cornerbacks out there?

A. Yeah, but they are doing a good job right now. As long as we come out here with a purpose to improve each and every day they'll keep getting better and better. They've made some great strides here in the last few practices.

Q. You said you were a college coach when the South Carolina situation came up last season, but then that changed. How did you deal with that?

A. I think the people that know me well know that when I left college ball this last time to come back to the NFL that my intentions were to stay here. But under the circumstances (Bobby Petrino leaving early to take a college job), I've got to feed a family and that was the opportunity. The opportunity at South Carolina I think was a good one. I had looked forward to working with Coach Spurrier. But again, this is really where I wanted to be and feel extremely fortunate.

Q. How big was it getting Grady Jackson back for you this week?

A. That's big for us in more than one way.

Q. What type of style will you play?

A. We'll line up in a 4-3. Good defense starts with the idea of attacking. We feel like we've got a simple system, but yet it carries enough arsenal to be effective. It's well-rounded, but it all begins with attitude, and that attack portion of it is a big part of attitude.

Q. How's rookie linebacker Curtis Lofton coming along?

A. He's coming. He's like a lot of rookies. There's a lot of different language and scheme thrown at him. He's adjusting. I know that he's working hard. He's getting better and better.

Q. Are you expecting a big year out of Keith Brooking after moving him back to the weak side?

A. You always have to expect a big year out of Keith. He's been a productive player for a long time in the NFL. Those standards and expectations will remain the same.

Q. How's Stephen Nicholas coming along?

A. We are trying to cross- train him a little bit. We've been giving him his reps at the Sam (strongside) linebacker since the OTAs started. I think he feels more comfortable there each day.

Q. How much help calling plays will you get from head coach Mike Smith, a former defensive coordinator?

A. I'll lean on Smitty a lot. He's done it in the NFL for a long time with a lot of success. I'll be throwing questions, and I'm sure he'll have thoughts for me on a consistent basis. That's just how we do our work.

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But under the circumstances (Bobby Petrino leaving early to take a college job), I've got to feed a family and that was the opportunity. The opportunity at South Carolina I think was a good one. I had looked forward to working with Coach Spurrier. But again, this is really where I wanted to be and feel extremely fortunate.

Really?

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No better than Petrino. Take a job and then run in the middle of the night. What a snake!!

he covered what and why with that situation. He said the same thing I have been saying since he was re-hired.

He would have likely been released of his duties by any other coach had we not gotten Smith. He left to make sure he had a job, and ANY coach would have done the same.

I see we didnt lose any of our dummies during my time off from the boards.

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he covered what and why with that situation. He said the same thing I have been saying since he was re-hired.

He would have likely been released of his duties by any other coach had we not gotten Smith. He left to make sure he had a job, and ANY coach would have done the same.

I see we didnt lose any of our dummies during my time off from the boards.

goo to have you back 89 and your right.

good info glad to see that BVG is not to proud to ask for help of a proven NFL DC in Smith.

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You are not the first person to tell me that.

Tried to get a pic of them with their blue eyes next to each other with both looking straight at camera but they won't cooperate.

I have four sibes and 5 blue eyes. Our girl has two blue eyes, two boys have one brown and one blue and then the other boy has a blue and a green. Their coats are black and white, red and white, gray and white and black and tan.

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