Former Patriots linebacker Don Blackmon will be trying to stop his old team when New England travels to Atlanta during the 2001 season.
Blackmon, who played seven seasons for New England, was named the Falcons new defensive coordinator Monday. He replaces Rich Brooks, who held the position since 1997 but decided not to return to the Falcons for the 2001 season.
Blackmon has been the Falcons linebackers coach since 1997. He came to the team when Head Coach Dan Reeves took over. The two have coached together since 1993, when Reeves hired Blackmon as a linebackers coach for the New York Giants.
He faces the task of turning around a defense that allowed more than 350 yards total offense and 124 rushing yards per game in 2000. Atlanta gave up 413 points this season. Only five teams (San Francisco, St. Louis, Arizona, Cleveland and San Diego) allowed more scoring.
"Don has been with me for eight years," Reeves said in a release from the Falcons. "He's an outstanding coach and I'm excited about him accepting the job as defensive coordinator. Not only is Don an excellent coach, but also he deserves this opportunity. This gives us a chance to keep continuity defensively, which I think is important. I feel over the last four years we have done some good things defensively and we need to continue to get better."
A fourth-round draft pick out of Tulsa, Blackmon came to New England as part of the 1981 draft class that included tackle Brian Holloway, running back Tony Collins and tight end Lin Dawson. From 1981-87 Blackmon started 72 of the 89 games he played for the Patriots.
Showing a penchant for getting off to a fast start, Blackmon twice recorded three sacks in a season-opener. The first time was against Green Bay in a 26-20 victory on Sept.8, 1985. The second was in a 33-3 win over Indianapolis on Sept. 7, 1986.
Blackmon is currently 12th on New England's all-time sack list despite having his career cut short by a neck injury suffered against the Los Angeles Raiders on Nov. 1, 1987. He was a member of the Patriots 1985 AFC Championship team that played the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX.
Blackmon's coaching career began immediately after his playing days ended, as he tutored the Patriots linebackers under Head Coach Raymond Berry from 1988-90. He then joined current New England Head Coach Bill Belichick's staff for two seasons in Cleveland as the Browns linebackers coach.