FLOWERY BRANCH — Brian VanGorder, the Falcons defensive coordinator for the last four
seasons, resigned to accept the same post at Auburn on Monday.
“Coach Brian VanGorder has accepted the position of defensive coordinator at Auburn University,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “Brian has been an integral part of our success here over the last four years. I want to thank Brian and his family for all that they’ve done for our organization. I want to personally thank Brian for all of his hard work and all the work that he’s done to make us successful here in Atlanta.”
Smith was a defensive coordinator under former Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio. He would not say if Del Rio, who was fired in Jacksonville, would be a candidate for the vacant defensive coordinator position.
“I’m not going to comment on that position at this point in time,” Smith said. “It’s something that just came about. We’ll go through the due process of getting the best defensive coordinator for our football team.”
Van Gorder joined Falcons coach Bobby Petrino’s staff as the linebacker’s coach in 2007. After Petrino left, he accepted the defensive coordinator’s position at South Carolina.
Smith, who coached with VanGorder at Jacksonville, hired him to be the Falcons’ defensive coordinator.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for me and my family at this point in my career, both professionally and personally, to become the defensive coordinator at Auburn,” said VanGorder, who served as the defensive coordinator at Georgia from 2001 to 2004. “I’m looking forward to working at a school with the success and tradition of Auburn, and for a coach like Gene Chizik, who has led the program to a national championship. I’m very appreciative to the Atlanta Falcons and Coach Mike Smith for the experience of the last four years. It’s a great organization and will have continued success in the future.”
VanGorder’s defense finished the regular season second in the NFL in red zone defense, sixth in rushing defense (97.0 ypg), and 12th in total defense (333.6 ypg). But they struggled rushing the passer and playing the pass. In college at Georgia, he had a penchant for blitzing. But during his Falcons tenure, his unit played mostly zone coverage.
“I’m very excited to have a coach like Brian VanGorder join our staff at Auburn,” said Auburn coach Gene Chizik. ”From the beginning of this process, I had one person in mind, and that was Brian. He has achieved success at every level, both professionally and collegiately, which is a testament to his ability as a coach. He has been one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL, has won a Broyles Award at the college level, and understands what it takes to succeed in the Southeastern Conference. We’re pleased to welcome Brian and his family to Auburn.”
VANGORDER’S COACHING BACKGROUND
2008-11 Defensive Coordinator // Falcons
2007 Linebackers // Falcons
2006 Head Coach // Georgia Southern
2005 Linebackers// Jaguars
2001-04 Def. Coor./Linebackers // Georgia
2000 Def. Coor./Linebackers // W. Illinois
1998-99 Def. Coordinator // C. Michigan
1997 Asst. H. Coach/Def. Coor. // C. Florida
1995-96 Linebackers/Sp. Tm. Coor. // C. Florida
1992-94 Head Coach // Wayne State
1989-91 Def. Coor./Linebackers // Gr. Valley St.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog