Dennis Thurman Defensive Savior
The Jets made a bold move in the off-season by loosening Head Coach Rex Ryan’s power over the defense. Defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman will help the defense improve significantly this season.
Thurman was a defensive back for nine seasons; eight with the Dallas Cowboys and one with the St. Louis Cardinals. He played in every game over those nine seasons and finished with 36 interceptions.
This included catching nine interceptions in 1981, enroute to United Press International naming Thurman to the All-Conference team.
Thurman has mainly been a defensive coach in the NFL and NCAA since 1988. He had been the Jets secondary coach since 2008.
This past off-season the Jets made a brilliant move by naming Thurman the team’s defensive coordinator. He has proven since 2008 that he knows how to command defensive players.
Despite not having superstar cornerback Darrelle Revis for the majority of last season, Thurman helped guide the defense to finish with the second-best pass defense. He has also helped Antonio Cromartie develop into an emerging star cornerback.
Ryan has given Thurman high praise. According to the Jets Media Relations from the Aug. 1 press conference, “…but everybody respects Dennis Thurman, for the player he was but also for the intangibles he brought. One of the smartest guys in the league and he has that wealth of experience that he has with the defense, the fact we’ve been side by side for how many years?”
One aspect that Thurman can help the team improve on is pressuring the opposing quarterback.
The Jets will play against some great quarterbacks this upcoming season. Among the quarterbacks are Tom Brady, twice, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and Drew Brees.
Profootballfocus.com analyzed data from 2008-2012 to determine a quarterback’s statistics when they are facing pressure. Four of the opposing quarterbacks the Jets are facing this season ranked in the top seven when they face no pressure.
These four quarterbacks are Brees, Ryan, Brady, and Ben Roethlisberger, and they each received a grade of at least 107.
In order for the Jets to beat those quarterbacks, the defense needs to make sure that the quarterbacks are facing pressure every play. The best way to do this is by getting more than 30 sacks, last season’s total.
Thurman will have a tough time for the next month with that because Quinton Coples, who ESPN.com projects as the left outside linebacker, is out three to four weeks with a hairline fracture of his ankle. Coples’ five and a half sacks paced the team.
Antwan Barnes will have big shoes to fill in replacing that void for at least the next three weeks. Thurman’s experience will allow the Jets to have a chance at finish with an 8-8 record.