Feature Image: NewYorkJets.com
When the Jets play great defensively, one man receives all the credit. His name is Rex Ryan. He uses many schemes and fronts to confuse offenses. He has an incredible history of defensive success. Not to mention, he has it in his blood, as his father and brother have had great success in the NFL. Still, more people deserve credit for the Jets’ defensive dominance. Coach Karl Dunbar is the man with the job of developing our young defensive line.
Dunbar attended LSU where he played defensive tackle and made the All-SEC second team as a senior. He went on to play a few seasons in the NFL with the Saints and Cardinals, before getting into coaching. He coached at Nicholls State University, LSU, and Oklahoma State at the collegiate level. In the pros, he has been a coach with the Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, and now is with the Jets.
With the Minnesota Vikings, Dunbar established himself as a top defensive line coach in the league. With Dunbar at the helm from 2006 to 2011, the Vikings allowed the fewest rushing yards in the league and ranked sixth in sacks. He also helped develop Jared Allen into one of the league’s most feared pass-rushers.
In 2012, he joined Rex Ryan’s defense as the defensive line coach. The Jets have become loaded with young talent across defensive line, featuring three first-round picks (in a row) in Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, and Sheldon Richardson. Dunbar certainly has plenty of toys to work with. Thus far, he has done a great job of utilizing their talent.
Wilkerson has been in the league for three years and has quietly turned into a force on the line. In 2013, he racked up 64 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and an interception, earning All-Pro honors. Coples was the Jets first-round pick in 2012. In his first season, he had 5.5 sacks, showing tons of potential. However, he had an injury that would slow him down in the 2013 preseason, and he has bounced around from D-Line to OLB. Coples is entering a huge season for his career and Dunbar is working to get the best out of him. Richardson, the Jets 2013 first-round selection, burst onto the NFL scene this year with countless run-stuffing tackles, 3.5 sacks, and Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. While Damon Harrison certainly wasn’t a top pick, his presence is always felt on the line. Dunbar has worked with the undrafted free agent and has turned him into one of the top defensive tackles in the league. ‘Snacks’ is best known for his talents as a great run-stopper.
Dunbar has also played a key role in the development of Leger Douzable and Kenrick Ellis, who have both played roles in the Jets’ defense. Both could arguably start on another team.
The Jets defensive line is the team’s best unit. Dunbar deserves a ton of credit for taking potential and turning it into real production. Not just that, but he has really helped turn this group into a family. They are always interacting with each other on social media, using #DLinePride to connect. Their friendship is seen on the field. Watching this group play is awesome, and you can tell that they have a ton of fun together.
Coach Dunbar is on Twitter, too. His handle is @Kcoach99, and he often interacts with his players and fans. It is really cool to see a coach interact with fans online. He has earned the respect of his players and he will continue to help this young group become the best defensive line in the league.
Next year, when the D-Line is flying around the field making plays, don’t turn all the attention towards Rex Ryan. Look at Karl Dunbar, the man who is putting this whole thing together.
Editor Update: Coach Dunbar responded to our piece on Twitter (protected account) by saying, “Nice article! Rex is still da man when it comes 2 DLine play. He n Dennis do a great job of putting da DLine n position 2 win.” Humility + expertise = awesome to see.