Rex set to promote Thurman

January, 8, 2013
1/08/13
7:37
PM ET
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan will go into the 2013 season with three new coordinators, but two will be familiar faces.

Secondary coach Dennis Thurman is expected to be named the defensive coordinator, league sources said Tuesday. He will replace Mike Pettine, whose contract is expiring and was scheduled to interview for the same position Tuesday with the Bills.

[+] EnlargeDennis Thurman
Howard Smith/USA TODAY SportsSecondary coach Dennis Thurman is expected to replace Mike Pettine as defensive coordinator.
Thurman is the natural successor, as he has worked with Ryan longer than any of the defensive coaches on the staff. Ryan said he will wait until the next general manager is hired before making anything official.

Pettine served as Ryan’s coordinator for four seasons, but he turned down a contract extension early in the season. Money was an issue, but Pettine also might want to escape Ryan’s shadow.

"We had conversations and, right now, Mike think it’s best that he goes to a different team as a defensive coordinator, and I wish him all the best -- unless he goes to Buffalo," Ryan joked.

Ryan confirmed an ESPN report that he fired offensive coordinator Tony Sparano after only one season. The Jets ranked 30th in total offense.

"I wanted to move this team in a different direction offensively," said Ryan, who will have his third coordinator in three years. "I’m not saying Tony didn’t do a good job, because he did a tremendous job and he’s a tremendous coach."

Ryan took the blame for the struggles, saying he has failed over four years to instill an offensive identity. He wants to hire a coordinator who will install an attacking offense. Norv Turner and Cam Cameron are on the Jets’ short list.

The Jets also have to hire a quarterbacks coach, as they decided not to renew Matt Cavanaugh’s contract.

As expected, assistant special teams coach Ben Kotwica was named to replace coordinator Mike Westhoff, who has retired after three decades in the NFL.

"If you want to know how big those shoes are [to fill], just ask Westy," Ryan cracked.

Thurman was widely considered the defensive heir apparent. Two years ago, the Jets blocked him from interviewing for the Oakland Raiders’ coordinator vacancy.

Thurman, 56, has worked with Ryan for more than a decade, dating to their years as assistant coaches for the Baltimore Ravens. Thurman did a terrific job this season, as the Jets finished second in pass defense despite not having All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis for 14 games.

Ryan strongly hinted that he will promote Thurman.

"The ink isn’t dry, so I’m not announcing them today," he said. "That will be later. I have a feeling that, internally, we’re going to run the New York Jets defense, period."

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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