STAFF - COACHING Ryan Nielsen – Defensive Line Nielsen enters his second season with the New Orleans Saints as defensive line coach. He has 15 years of coaching experience, the first 14 at the collegiate level before joining the Saints in 2017, most recently serving as the defensive line/recruiting coordinator/run game coordinator at North Carolina State from 2013-16. In 2017, Nielsen guided a defensive line that saw DE Cameron Jordan enjoy another outstanding season, becoming the first Saints defensive end to be named an Associated Press first-team All-Pro. Jordan’s elite season highlighted by a career-high 13.5 sacks, earned him numerous individual accomplishments, including his third Pro Bowl nod, his first NFC Defensive Player of the Week (Week Six) and NFC Defensive Player of the Month (November) honors. Nielsen welcomed free agent acquisition DE Alex Okafor into the rotation, as the fifth-year pro had 4.5 sacks and two forced
fumbles playing opposite Jordan before suffering a ruptured Achilles in Week 11. Nielsen, a Simi Valley, Calif. native who started 30 games at DT at USC from 1998-2001, finished his college career with 107 career tackles and was voted the team’s Defensive Lineman of the Year in 1999. He graduated with a degree in public policy in 2002 and went to training camp with the Philadelphia Eagles. He played for the Arena Football League’s Los Angeles Avengers in 2004. PLAYING CAREER: Southern California, 1997-01; Los Angeles Avengers (Arena Football League), 2004. COACHING CAREER: Southern California, 2002, Idaho, 2004; Mississippi, 2005-07; Central Connecticut State, 2008-09; Tennessee- Martin, 2010; Northern Illinois, 2011-12; North Carolina State, 2013-16; New Orleans Saints, 2017-.
Mike Nolan – Linebackers Mike Nolan is in his second season as the linebackers coach for the Saints. Nolan, a 36-year coaching veteran, will be entering his 31st season coaching in the National Football League. The son of former NFL safety and coaching veteran Dick Nolan who guided the Saints from 1978-80 after serving as an assistant in 1977, Mike Nolan played a major role in the development of the linebackers in 2017. Nolan was a three-year starter at safety at Oregon, after initially enrolling and joining the team as a walk-on. After beginning his coaching career at his alma mater in 1981, he then tutored linebackers and defensive backs at
Stanford (1982-83) and Rice (1984-85), before coaching linebackers at LSU in 1986 prior to entering the NFL coaching ranks with Denver. PLAYING CAREER: Oregon, 1978-80 COACHING CAREER: Oregon, 1981; Stanford, 1982-83; Rice, 198485; LSU, 1986; Denver Broncos, 1987-92; N.Y. Giants, 1993-96; Washington Redskins, 1997-99; N.Y. Jets, 2000; Baltimore Ravens, 2001-04; San Francisco 49ers (Head Coach), 2005-08; Denver Broncos, 2009; Miami Dolphins, 2010-11; Atlanta Falcons, 2012-14; San Diego Chargers, 2015; New Orleans Saints, 2017-.
Brendan Nugent – Assistant Offensive Line Brendan Nugent, a 13-year coaching veteran, joined the Saints in 2015 and assists the team’s offensive staff in all aspects of game preparation, while also working closely with Dan Roushar in tutoring the offensive line. Prior to coming to New Orleans, Nugent served as an offensive quality control coach with the Chicago Bears from 2013-14, after serving as the Canadian Football League’s Monteal Alouettes as a special teams assistant and offensive quality control coach in 2012. Nugent spent the previous five seasons (2007-11) at William & Mary coaching several offensive positions. He
started in the college coaching ranks in 2005 at the University of Iowa as an offensive assistant. Nugent received his first coaching job at his alma mater Archbishop Stepinac High School in his hometown of White Plains, N.Y., overseeing the linebackers in 2004. He played linebacker for three seasons at The Catholic University of America. PLAYING CAREER: Catholic University of America, 2001-03. COACHING CAREER: Iowa, 2005-06; William & Mary, 2007-11; Montreal Alouettes (CFL), 2012; Chicago Bears, 2013-14; New Orleans Saints, 2015-.
Kevin O’Dea - Assistant Special Teams Coach Kevin O’Dea enters his third season with the Saints in 2018 and will continue to work with the team’s special teams units in his 32nd year coaching and 24th in the NFL. In 2017, the Saints’ special teams unit showed improvement in several areas from a year ago. The Saints improved from 31st to 6th in kickoff return average (22.9) and from 29th to sixth in average starting field position after kickoff (25.6). Kicker Wil Lutz made a big jump in his second NFL season, leading the team with 140 points and connecting on 31 of 36 field goals (86.1), tying the club record for field goals. Rookie Alvin Kamara finished with a 31.5 kickoff return average, the highest in franchise history for a season, returning a 106-yard touchdown in the season finale, the
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longest in club history. A native of Williamsport, Pa., O’Dea spent four years in the Coast Guard (1979-83) before enrolling in Lock Haven, where he earned a fitness management degree and later obtained a master’s degree in education from Virginia. PLAYING CAREER: Lock Haven, 1984-85. COACHING CAREER: Lock Haven, 1986; Cornell, 1987; Virginia, 1989-90; Penn State, 1993; San Diego Chargers, 1994-95; Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1996-2001; Detroit Lions, 2002-03; Arizona Cardinals, 2004-05; Chicago Bears, 200607; New York Jets, 2008-09; Hartford Colonials (UFL), 2010; Chicago Bears, 2011-12; Kansas City Chiefs, 2013; Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2014-15; New Orleans Saints, 2016-.