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Get to Know: Dennis Thurman

With Rex Ryan at the helm, how big of a difference can Dennis Thurman make?

In 2009, with Thurman as DB coach, the Jets defense held opponents to the fewest points and total yards in the NFL.
In 2009, with Thurman as DB coach, the Jets defense held opponents to the fewest points and total yards in the NFL.

What we know: After Mike Pettine left the team in favor of a defensive coordinator position with the Buffalo Bills, the New York Jets looked to Dennis Thurman to lead the defense. But how much of a difference--if any--will this make with Rex Ryan running the show?

Dennis Thurman began his tenure with the Jets in 2009--along with Rex Ryan--as the Defensive Backs coach. Under their new head coach the New York Jets defense allowed the fewest points, passing yards and total yards in the NFL. In fact, in the four years under the Ryan/Pettine/Thurman tandem, the Jets pass defense was in the Top 5 three times. The only year they weren't--2010--they were ranked 6th overall.

Dennis Thurman's career, both as a coach and a player:

Year(s) Employer Role
1978-1985 Dallas Cowboys Defensive Back
1986 St. Louis Cardinals Defensive Back
1988-1989 Phoenix Cardinals Defensive Backs Coach
1993-2000 USC Defensive Backs Coach
2002-2003 Baltimore Ravens Defensive Assistant
2004-2007 Baltimore Ravens Defensive Backs Coach
2009-2012 New York Jets Defensive Backs Coach
2013 New York Jets Defensive Coordinator

Mike Pettine is gone, and now it's Dennis Thurman's defense to run... Or is it? It's no secret that Rex Ryan is a defensive minded head coach and is largely responsible for the defensive prowess the Jets have been known for since his arrival. So the real question is will things change? My response is simple: No.

While Thurman and the Jets will no longer have #24 to lean on in the defensive backfield, the philosophy will likely stay the same. Rex Ryan loves corner backs. This we know. They still have Antonio Cromartie, who was arguably one of the best corners in the NFL last season, along with Kyle Wilson, Ellis Lankster and rookie Dee Milliner, to name a few.

Dennis Thurman clearly has experience coaching a successful passing defense, so any potential questions you have will lie in the trenches. The Jets rush defense last season struggled mightily, ranking 26th in the NFL in both yards and points. Thurman and Ryan will have their hands full making adjustments and not letting the CJ Spillers of the world bust off 60+ yard runs against them. The hope is that the group of Wilkerson, Coples and Richardson, among others, will grow into a lethal pass rush and potentially a good run D.

The coaching turnover with the Jets this offseason was definitely radical, but if there's one area where I don't think things will be much different, it's with Rex Ryan and his defense.