The carousel of candidates for the defensive coordinator of the Washington Redskins continues. On Thursday, the team brought in Dennis Thurman for an interview for the vacancy.
It appears that the Washington Redskins may be interested in bringing in a member of the Rex Ryan coaching tree to take control of their defense. After interviewing Mike Pettine and Rob Ryan earlier in the offseason, the team elected to bring in Dennis Thurman for an interview on Thursday, per Mike Jones of the Washington Post. Thurman has long been an assistant for Rex’s coaching staffs, and he had serve as the defensive coordinator for his teams in each of the last four seasons.
Thurman was a former defensive back for the Dallas Cowboys who played nine years in the NFL. After finishing up his career with a single season in St. Louis, Thurman began his coaching career as a secondary coach for the then Phoenix Cardinals. He moved to the college ranks for nearly a decade before coming back to the NFL as a member of the Baltimore Ravens.
Thurman spent six years with the Ravens before eventually following Ryan to the Jets after the former defensive coordinator landed a head coaching job. He spent another four years as the secondary coach before being promoted to defensive coordinator in 2013.
In two seasons with the Jets, Thurman dealt with some talented defensive players. In both seasons, the Jets were very good at limiting opposing yardage, ranking 11th and 6th in each of the seasons. A good chunk of their success came from their stellar run defense that ranked in the top five of the NFL in both years. However, the team was below average in terms of scoring defense but part of that can be blamed on the lack of talent in the team’s secondary.
Thurman eventually followed Ryan to Buffalo, and that is where things got a little rock for him. Despite having a supposedly talented defense, the Bills ranked as a below average unit in both of Thurman’s seasons. They were 19th in yards allowed each year and were middle of the pack in scoring defense. During the 2016 season, Thurman had to cede a lot of his power to Rob Ryan, and he really did not have as much responsibility before the Bills coach staff was canned.
For the Redskins, Thurman would make sense given that he has a decent track record in developing players in the secondary while also creating a good run defense. With the right personnel, Thurman can coordinate a solid defense. It would also be interesting to see if he could really run his own scheme without the constant meddling of the Ryan brothers.
Still, Thurman is far from the top option available on the market. He has some more upside than other candidates that the Redskins interviewed, but frankly it is difficult to know how he would perform without Rex Ryan. He has never been a high ranking member of a staff without Ryan, so there is no knowing how much success has to be attributed to that. At the end of the day, Thurman offers a lot of questions, but he could still be a decent coordinator if given a chance.