The New York Jets have announced the hiring of wide receivers coach Henry Ellard, running backs coach Anthony Lynn, secondary coach Dennis Thurman and assistant secondary coach Doug Plank. The team also announced that Bob Sutton will return as senior defensive assistant/linebackers. The announcements were made by head coach Rex Ryan.
Ellard joins the Jets after eight seasons as the wide receivers coach with the St. Louis Rams (2001-08). Under Ellard's tutelage, the Rams' Torry Holt posted seven consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons and reached 11,000 career yards in 131 games, faster than any other player in NFL history. He also coached at his alma mater, Fresno State, in 2000.
A second-round draft choice of the Los Angeles Rams in 1983, Ellard finished his 16-season NFL career with 814 receptions for 13,777 yards and 65 touchdowns for the Rams, Redskins and Patriots. Ellard is tied for 19th in NFL history in receptions with former Jets WR Keyshawn Johnson and is eighth all-time in receiving yards.
Lynn spent the last six years as a running backs coach in the NFL, earning two-year stints with the Browns (2007-08), Cowboys (2005-06) and Jaguars (2003-04). In his first season at Cleveland, Lynn worked with Jamal Lewis, who finished fifth in the NFL with 1,304 yards rushing despite missing two games. At Dallas, Lynn oversaw the emergence of the effective duo of Julius Jones and Marion Barber III. At Jacksonville under Lynn, Fred Taylor recorded two of the top four single-season rushing performances in Jaguars history.
Lynn began his coaching career with the Broncos as an offensive assistant and assistant special teams coach (2000-02). As a player, he earned two Super Bowl rings as a running back with the Broncos in 1997 and 1998 during his seven-year NFL career.
Thurman coached the Ravens secondary from 2002-07 alongside Ryan. During his Ravens tenure, the team led the NFL with 126 interceptions and 18 interception returns for touchdowns while he was coaching, among others, Ed Reed (34 INTs, 2002-07), Chris McAlister, Samari Rolle and Deion Sanders. Before coming back to the NFL, he coached the defensive backs at his alma mater, Southern Cal, for eight years (1993-2000). He made his NFL coaching debut for the Phoenix Cardinals, coaching defensive backs for two seasons (1988-89).
Thurman, who had 36 career interceptions and played in Super Bowl XIII in 1979 during his nine seasons as a cornerback and safety in the NFL for the Cowboys and Cardinals, was a two-time All-America safety at Southern Cal, where he was part of teams that won four bowl games and the 1974 national championship.
Plank (Ohio State/Greensburg, PA) joins the Jets after working as a coaching assistant with the Atlanta Falcons. Plank was the head coach of the AFL's Georgia Force (2005-08), compiling a 47-25 record while guiding the Force to an ArenaBowl appearance in 2005. In 2008, the Force won their third Southern Division championship under Plank while earning a playoff berth for the fourth consecutive year. He was named the AFL Coach of the Year on two occasions (2005 and 2007) and led the team to a franchise-best 14-2 record in 2007. Plank spent three seasons as the defensive coordinator of the AFL Arizona Rattlers after serving as the team's radio and television analyst.
Plank played in three Rose Bowls for Woody Hayes, was a 12th-round pick in 1975 and started eight seasons for the Chicago Bears, where he was the first Bears rookie to ever lead the team in tackles. The Bears' "46 Defense" of the Eighties, developed by Buddy Ryan, father of Rex Ryan, was named after Plank's uniform No. 46.
Sutton is entering his 10th season with the Jets. A former head coach (1991-99) and assistant coach (1983-91) at Army, he originally joined the Jets in 2000 as linebackers coach before being named the team's defensive coordinator in 2006.