THURSDAY, 12:06pm: The Bills have officially announced the hiring of Thurman as their defensive coordinator, according to a team release.
MONDAY, 10:35pm: We learned earlier tonight that despite reports that incoming Bills head coach Rex Ryan would offer him a spot on his coaching staff, Jim Schwartz will not return as Buffalo’s defensive coordinator. Instead, as has been widely speculated, Ryan will bring along his DC from his time with the Jets, Dennis Thurman, to take over the Bills defense, according to Kimberly Jones of the NFL Network (Twitter link).
It’s perhaps a bit surprising that Schwartz is being allowed to leave Buffalo, as he guided a defense that finished second in DVOA in 2014. However, if Ryan decided he wanted to bring in his own coordinator, there wasn’t much of an option for Schwartz, who would surely be disinterested in moving to a position coach role. Instead, the Bills will return to running Ryan’s defensive schemes — because Mike Pettine, a Ryan disciple, was the coordinator in 2013, the club should be familiar with the playbook. The team will be returning to a more traditional 3-4 look, though edge defender Jerry Hughes did act as a stand-up rusher quite often in 2014, and many have opined that the changes won’t be as monumental as perceived.
Thurman, 58, has worked with Ryan since 2002, when both were employed by the Ravens. Ryan brought Thurman to New York in 2008, where he served as the secondary coach until transitioning to DC in 2013 following Pettine’s departure. A former cornerback, Thurman played in the NFL for nine years, mostly with the Cowboys. While he’ll be listed as the coordinator, Ryan will call the defensive plays.