As for the rest of Ryan’s coaching staff there is only one position coach the players really didn’t want to lose, defensive line coach Karl Dunbar. Dunbar has been loved by his players everywhere he went, he has a certain way about himself that allows him to relate to the players and get the most out of them with a perfect blend of tough-love, teaching technique and creating a familial dynamic amongst the defensive line (and outside linebacker) group.
Replacing Ryan, while tough, was nowhere near as tough to replace, impact-wise, as Dunbar. Again the players loved Ryan but they knew a change was coming and they want to get back into the playoffs. The players will follow new head coach Todd Bowles immediately, but getting a new defensive line coach that those players could fully buy into immediately was a more difficult task.
One of the most under-talked about aspects of being a good, or great, head coach is in the ability to build a coaching staff and if Bowles’ hire to replace Dunbar as the defensive line coach is any indication Bowles will do just fine with building his own staff.
Bowles has hired ex-Jet, Pepper Johnson, to be his new defensive line coach and while the players on the Jets defensive line don’t have the familiarity with Johnson that they did with Dunbar it will only be a matter of time before they realize they will love playing for Johnson just like they did with Dunbar.
Bill Belichick gave Johnson his first coaching job with the New England Patriots, starting as an assistant linebacker coach in 2000, inside linebacker coach from 2001-2003, defensive line coach 2004-2011 and linebacker coach in 2012-2013) before taking over as defensive line coach with the Buffalo Bills last season.
Johnson is widely respected and loved by the players he has played with an coached and as lucky as he has been to work under Belichick, coach last year’s Bills defensive line and next year’s Jets defensive line the Jets are just as lucky to bring Johnson back to the Jets.