JANUARY 23: The Jets have finally made the hiring of Rodgers official, confirming it in a press release. The team also announced the hiring of Bobby April as special teams coordinator.
JANUARY 16: New Jets head coach Todd Bowles has begun to fill out his staff, as Adam Caplan of ESPN reports (via Twitter) that Dolphins defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers will take over as New York’s defensive coordinator. Reports yesterday indicated that the Dolphins would not block Rodgers’ move to their division rival, and now it sounds like deal will be finalized at some point in the coming days (Twitter link via Caplan). Rodgers, 45, has worked as an NFL assistant since 2003, and his time in Miami overlapped with Bowles’ from 2008-11. He’ll replace Dennis Thurman, who followed ex-Jets coach Rex Ryan to Buffalo.
In South Beach, Rodgers worked with a Dolphins defensive line that included talented players such as Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon, and Jared Odrick, and although the club’s entire defense tailed off near the end of the season, it still finished eighth in adjusted sack rate. Miami’s line did contribute to a defensive unit that ranked 24th in rushing yards allowed, however. In New York, Rodgers will employ a similarly talent defensive line — Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson lead a position group that helped the team Jets finish fifth in rushing yards allowed and fourth in adjusted sack rate.
The primary area of focus for Rodgers, then, will be Gang Green’s secondary, which allowed the third-highest passer rating to opposing quarterbacks, and finished 24th in DVOA against the pass. Chief among Rodgers’ assignments will be to mold two recent first-round defensive back selections, corner Dee Milliner and safety Calvin Pryor, in the hopes of fortifying a weak secondary.
Rodgers, a Tennessee alum, coached in the college ranks before joining the Cowboys as a defensive tackles coach in 2003. He’s been in his current role since ’08. As for scheme, it’s unclear what look what Rodgers will use as his base defense — the Dolphins ran an 4-3 front, while Bowles and the Cardinals employed a 3-4 defense. Regardless, the unit will surely look different that than the Ryan-led defense of recent years.