New Jets defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman has never held that job before, but he will have someone on his staff with experience as a coordinator.
The Jets announced Thursday that former Falcons defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder will join the staff as their linebackers coach. VanGorder spent four years as Mike Smith’s defensive coordinator in Atlanta before jumping to the same job at Auburn last year. VanGorder was let go by the school after head coach Gene Chizik was fired following a dismal 2012 season.
VanGorder’s hiring means that the Jets have filled all of the key positions on their coaching staff after a month of changes prompted by the firing of offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and the departure of defensive coordinator Mike Pettine for the same job in Buffalo. Bob Sutton, the Jets’ previous linebackers coach, left to become the defensive coordinator in Kansas City.
The Jets also announced that Bobby April III will be a defensive quality control coach. His father, Bobby April Jr., has been a longtime special teams coach who will run those units for the Raiders this season. Sparano’s son, also named Tony, will be an offensive intern with the team despite his father’s departure.