Falcons hire Jerry Gray as assistant head coach/defense

Credit: Green Bay Packers

Credit: Green Bay Packers

LAS VEGAS — Jerry Gray, a former NFL player and a longtime coach, has joined the Falcons as assistant head coach/defense, the team announced Tuesday.

Gray, who most recently was with the Green Bay Packers, has 26 years of NFL coaching experience, including eight as a defensive coordinator and 16 as a defensive backs/secondary coach.

He also interviewed for the Falcons’ defensive coordinator position, which went to Ryan Nielsen, formerly of the Saints. Nielsen will be the play-caller for the defense.

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Gray was the Packers’ defensive backs/passing-game coordinator from 2020-22, and the Packers finished in the top 10 in passing defense in all three seasons.

The Falcons, who fired secondary coach Jon Hoke, finished this season ranked 25th in pass defense, as they gave 231.9 yards passing per game. The Falcons gave up 7.03 yards per pass play, which ranked 29th in the league.


Age: 60

NFL coaching experience: 26 seasons coaching in the NFL. Was with the Titans from 2011-13 and helped Falcons coach Arthur Smith get his NFL coaching career started. He also was with Washington in 2007-08, when Smith was a defensive quality-control assistant.

Highlights: Gray is credited with developing Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander. He was the Bills’ defensive coordinator from 2001-05 and was the Titans’ defensive coordinator from 2011-13. He has eight seasons as a defensive coordinator. His units finished in the top half of the league in points allowed in four of eight seasons and in the top half of the league in yards allowed in four of eight seasons. His best defense was the 2003 Buffalo unit, which was led by Pro Bowl linebacker Takeo Spikes and finished fifth in points allowed and second in yards allowed.

Playing experience: An All-American at Texas, he was a four-time Pro Bowl cornerback and two-time All-Pro. He played for the Rams, Oilers and Bucs (1985-93).

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