Jets News

Get to Know Defensive Coordinator: Dennis Thurman

By Alan Schechter

Dec 04, 2011; Landover, MD, USA; New York Jets defensive backs coach Dennis Thurman along the sidelines during the third quarter against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. the Jets defeated the Redskins 34-19. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, Dennis Thurman has been here as long as Rex Ryan has been here. But we haven’t seen him in the role of defensive coordinator yet. Now that he has, let’s get to know Dennis a little bit better. How much do we really know about him? I know that I didn’t know much, so here is what I have learned.

Thurman played his college ball at USC, playing on the 1974 National Championship team, and won four bowl games during his time with the Trojans. His 13 career interceptions at USC rank him 6th on the school’s all time list.

Dennis Thurman actually had a pretty successful playing career, mainly with the Dallas Cowboys, finishing up with the St. Louis Cardinals (1978-1986). In a 137 game career playing cornerback and safety, Thurman never missed a game, being elected to one Pro Bowl (1981). He recovered an onside kick in Super Bowl 13. For his playing career, he recorded 36 INTs, four of them run back for pick sixes. He also recovered 7 fumbles.

He made his coaching career as a defensive backs coach, starting with the Cardinals from 1988-1989. He coached the defensive backs at his alma mater, USC, from 1993-2000, coaching up future NFL stars such as Troy Polamalu. He came back to the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens, serving as a defensive assistant and defensive backs coach from 2002-2008, serving on the same staff as head coach Rex Ryan. He came over to Gang Green along with coach Ryan in 2009, and has coached the defensive backs ever since.

He has since been promoted to defensive coordinator to replace the departed Mike Pettine.

Seeing how good the defensive backs have been, especially in 2012, I am not too worried about the defense suffering.