Originally written on BroncoTalk  |  Last updated 11/19/14

Denver Broncos defensive line coach Jay Rodgers. (DenverBroncos.com)

With Wayne Nunnely‘s surprising retirement comes the just-as-surprising promotion of Jay Rodgers, who spent the last three seasons as a defensive assistant with the Denver Broncos. Rodgers will now serve as the Denver Broncos defensive line coach and be directly responsible for the grooming of top 2012 draft pick Derek Wolfe. He’ll also be tasked with making sure the level of production in 2012′s defensive line stays consistent with the improvements made in 2011, despite a slew of roster changes in that area.

That’s a lot to ask someone assuming the job responsibilities midway through the offseason. So is Rodgers ready?

A “defensive quality control coach” in 2011, Rodgers comes from an offensive coaching background in college, coaching quarterbacks at Missouri State University (2004) and Stephen F. Austin University (2005-2006) before coaching wide receivers at Iowa State (2007-2008). Before that, Rodgers played quarterback for three years at the collegiate level.

So Rodgers, a defensive assistant at the NFL level, comes from an offensive coaching and player’s background in college. Is that cause for concern?

Not necessarily — the man he is replacing did the same thing.

Before 18 years of coaching the defensive line at the professional level, Wayne Nunnely was a head coach (four years at UNLV) and running backs coach in college. Nunnely himself was a former fullback.

Given Nunnely’s career, clearly an offensive background in college is no inhibitor to success as a defensive line coach at the NFL level. Furthermore, Rodgers has only worked with the Denver Broncos defense at the professional coaching level; he has three years experience to help him hit the ground running.

Quoteables – Broncos players and coaches on the Rodgers hire

Rodgers has the seemingly unanimous blessing of everyone involved in the Broncos’ organization with this promotion. The man he replaces certainly gave him high praise.

“The defensive line will be in good hands with Jay Rodgers, whom I’ve worked with very closely for the last three years,” Nunnely said. “He is very deserving of this opportunity, which he has earned through his hard work and knowledge. Jay has many great qualities as a person and coach that will make him successful in his new role.”

Head Coach John Fox said he has no doubt that Rodgers’ time with Nunnely “has prepared him for this opportunity that he has earned,” and defensive end Elvis Dumervil agreed.

“He’s a young, bright coach,” Dumervil said of Rodgers. “He knows a lot — he’s been around. I think he’s extremely smart. He’s learned a lot from Coach Nunnely as well and I think his future is bright. It was very fortunate to be able to have Coach Rodgers on staff and get him in.”

Going back to last season, when Rodgers’ duties changed from that of a “defensive assistant” to someone directly involved with the defensive line, players were already giving Rodgers credit. Listen to Robert Ayers‘ statement following the Cincinnati Bengals game last year, in which he forced a crucial fourth down QB pressure that helped the Broncos edge the Bengals 24-22:

“In that situation, they had the blocking tight end to my side, and he released, so I kind of figured it was a pass,” Ayers said. “That is what Coach Nunnelly and Jay Rodgers have been telling us, and I was just there to make the play, so you have to give them credit.”

Matching a prolific career

There’s no question that Rodgers has some big shoes to fill. Nunnely was a huge asset to the Denver Broncos organization. In seven of eighteen seasons, Nunnely’s teams ranked among the league’s top seven club in rushing yards allowed per game. In 1998 and 2005, both with the Chargers, his clubs were ranked No. 1.

To fill those shoes, Rodgers will have help. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio comes with a wealth of coaching knowledge he will impart. His brother, special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers, will naturally remain a resource and confidant.

But the time he spent with Nunnely, a coach in the same mold and from a similar background as Rodgers, will serve him better than any help he can get from others on the coaching staff. By all accounts, Rodgers was hand-picked and groomed for this very coaching opportunity.

Rodgers has been in the Broncos’ D-line plans all along.


GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Pacquiao to have surgery to repair 'significant' shoulder tear

Chris Paul ruled out for Game 1 against Rockets

Stephen Curry thanks father in touching MVP speech

Lawrence Taylor's son pleads guilty to statutory rape

49ers FB Bruce Miller charged with vandalism

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Winston snubbed ESPN out of draft interview

Report: Some Colts players unhappy with first-round pick

Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff: Focus is on Julio Jones contract

Irvin on Seahawks not picking up option: ‘F— that option’

Brandon Prust rips referee, accuses him of on-ice trash talk

LeBron James ditched headband to look more like teammates

Five overhyped NFL Draft storylines that didn't play out

WATCH: Chris Johnson wants to play for the Cowboys

WATCH: Chewbacca throws out 1st pitch at Red Sox game

WATCH: Kyrie Irving carves up Bulls' defense for layup

WATCH: Metallica goes Jimi Hendrix for national anthem

Brandon McCarthy shares disturbing info about himself

Ole Miss fan got pregnant because of upset over Alabama

Willie Cauley-Stein legally changes middle name to 'Trill'

Marcus Mariota welcomed to Tennessee with billboard

Five takeaways from the first round of the NBA playoffs

NFL has a Los Angeles Rams webpage

10 undrafted free agents who could become NFL stars

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Cauley-Stein changes middle name to 'Trill'

NFL has Los Angeles Rams webpage

10 undrafted free agents to watch

Report: Winston snubbed ESPN

Life without Love: The new-look Cavs

Drafted player changes Twitter name to ‘Pick 245′

Floyd Mayweather Punch Out mock video game is great

Report: Steph Curry to be NBA MVP

Kelly: Tebow here to compete for job

Tony Allen booed for being rude?

Lindsey Vonn, Tiger Woods break up

Pacquiao fought with injured shoulder?

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.