Martindale replaces Nolan in Denver

The Denver Broncos promoted linebackers coach Don "Wink" Martindale to defensive coordinator Thursday.

Martindale replaces Mike Nolan, who surprisingly parted ways with the Broncos on Jan. 18 because of philosophical differences with head coach Josh McDaniels. Nolan was named the defensive coordinator in Miami last week.

"Wink definitely deserves this," Broncos coach Josh McDaniels told The Denver Post. "He's earned this opportunity. Our system won't change, our philosophy won't change. He's a very aggressive coach. This is a great day for the Denver Broncos."

Denver's defense was ranked No. 7 in the NFL under Nolan. However, the unit tired toward the end of the season as Denver finished 2-8 and out of the playoffs after a 6-0 start.

"You can't measure how much you miss somebody until the season starts and see how much you improve from what you were," Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey told the newspaper.

Martindale, 46, came to Denver after serving as the Oakland Raiders' linebackers coach since 2004.

"I very much can see him as a defensive coordinator," safety Brian Dawkins told the newspaper. "A lot of what they asked me to do this year as a true strong safety, the film study I went through at that position, a lot of that came from him."

Bill Williamson covers the NFL for ESPN.com.