Coaches

Print
RSS
Jerry Gray
Defensive Backs

BIOGRAPHY

Now in his 3rd decade in the NFL as a coach and player, Jerry Gray’s experience has helped rebuild the Vikings defense to one of the top units in the NFL. Led by Pro Bowl talents CB Xavier Rhodes (2016) and S Harrison Smith (2015, 2016), the Vikings DBs feature 4 secondary players drafted in the 1st round in CB Terence Newman (#5, 2003, Dallas), CB Trae Waynes (#11, 2015), Rhodes (#25, 2013) and Smith (#29, 2012).

Gray has served as a defensive coordinator twice, with the Buffalo Bills (2001-05) and Tennessee Titans (2011-13), and played for 9 seasons as a standout DB. Gray has also tutored the DBs for the Seattle Seahawks (2010), Washington Redskins (2006-09) and Titans (1999-2000).

Gray has 4 times contributed to a top-10 scoring defense during his coaching career. The Vikings in 2015 and 2016 ranked #5 in the NFL in points allowed, giving up only 18.7 points per game in 2016. Gray’s 2011 Titans unit ranked 8th in the NFL, allowing 19.8 points per game and in 2000 with the Titans as the DBs coach, allowing only 11.9 points per game, ranking 2nd in the NFL.

Now in his 3rd decade in the NFL as a coach and player, Jerry Gray’s experience has helped rebuild the Vikings defense to one of the top units in the NFL. Led by Pro Bowl talents CB Xavier Rhodes (2016) and S Harrison Smith (2015, 2016), the Vikings DBs feature 4 secondary players drafted in the 1st round in CB Terence Newman (#5, 2003, Dallas), CB Trae Waynes (#11, 2015), Rhodes (#25, 2013) and Smith (#29, 2012).

Gray has served as a defensive coordinator twice, with the Buffalo Bills (2001-05) and Tennessee Titans (2011-13), and played for 9 seasons as a standout DB. Gray has also tutored the DBs for the Seattle Seahawks (2010), Washington Redskins (2006-09) and Titans (1999-2000).

Gray has 4 times contributed to a top-10 scoring defense during his coaching career. The Vikings in 2015 and 2016 ranked #5 in the NFL in points allowed, giving up only 18.7 points per game in 2016. Gray’s 2011 Titans unit ranked 8th in the NFL, allowing 19.8 points per game and in 2000 with the Titans as the DBs coach, allowing only 11.9 points per game, ranking 2nd in the NFL.

The Vikings defense ranked #6 in the NFL in 2016 in takeaways with 27 and snared 14 INTs on the season, good for 12th in the league. The Vikings ranked #4 in the NFL in opponent passer rating allowed at 83.0 and were #6 in the NFL with a 60.6% completion rate against them. Rhodes and Smith gave the Vikings their 1st CB/S duo in the Pro Bowl since Audray McMillian (CB) and Todd Scott (S) in 1992. Rhodes led the team with 5 INTs on the season and set a team record for longest INT return in club history with a 100-yard score vs. Arizona (11/20), earning his 1st career NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for the game.

The 2015 Vikings won the NFC North and hosted a Wild Card Playoff game, highlighted by a stingy defense that jumped to #5 in the NFL in points allowed at 18.9 after ranking #11 in 2014. In addition to Smith receiving Pro Bowl honors, CB Terence Newman was named NFC Defensive Players of the Week following his 2-INT performance at Oakland, which were the most INTs in a game by a Vikings CB since Brian Williams recorded 3 vs. Detroit in 2003.   

In Gray’s 1st season guiding the Vikings DBs, the unit improved in a number of statistical categories, jumping from 31st in passing yards per game in 2013 to 7th during the 2014 campaign. Additionally, the Vikings DBs recorded 12 interceptions during the 2014 campaign, doubling their 2013 total of 6. The Vikings defense posted the league’s largest defensive improvement from 2013 to 2014 as the unit allowed 113 fewer points under this coaching staff than it did in 2013.

Smith had a career year with the help of Gray and was the only player in the league to record 3+ interceptions and 3+ sacks, the 4th time in team history a Vikings DB has recorded 3 or more sacks and 3 or more interceptions in a season, the first time since Williams did so in 2003. Smith led the Vikings with 120 total tackles, breaking LB Chad Greenway’s streak of 6 consecutive seasons leading the team in tackles, becoming the first Vikings DB to lead the team in tackles since DB Corey Chavous posted 108 total tackles in 2003.

Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes made strides in his second NFL season with the help of Gray, finishing with 18 pass breakups, which was tied for the 4th-most pass breakups in the NFL during the 2014 campaign, and recorded his 1st career interception.

While coaching the DBs in Tennessee, Gray helped 2nd-year CB Samari Rolle and veteran S Blaine Bishop earn Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors in 2000 while the unit ranked 1st in the NFL in fewest passing yards and total yards allowed.

 

Following his 1st stint with Tennessee, Gray was named the Bills defensive coordinator. His defenses in 2003 and 2004 both ranked 2nd in the NFL for yards allowed and each were rated in the top 10 in points allowed. In 2004 his defense led the NFL in takeaways (39) and ranked 3rd in sacks (45).

Under Gray’s tutelage as the secondary coach for the Redskins, S Sean Taylor grew into one the NFL’s best young defenders and earned Pro Bowl honors in 2006. Taylor tragically passed during the 2007 season and was selected to the Pro Bowl and selected All-Pro in 2007 posthumously. During his lone season in Seattle, Gray helped rookie S Earl Thomas to an impressive debut, starting all 16 games and grabbing 5 interceptions.

A year after retiring as a player, Gray received his 1st coaching job with Southern Methodist as the secondary coach. After a 2-year stint with SMU, Gray was hired by the Tennessee Oilers as the defensive quality control coach while the team played in Memphis in its 1st season relocated from Houston.

As a player, Gray was a 4-time Pro Bowler (1986-89) and twice earned 2nd-Team All-Pro honors from the AP (1986, ‘89)during his 9-year NFL career as a CB. Gray, who finished with 28 career interceptions, was named the NFL’s Defensive Back of the Year by the NFLPA in 1989 and won Pro Bowl MVP honors in 1990. Gray was a 1st-round selection (21st overall) by the LA Rams out of the University of Texas in 1985. Gray was the 3rd DB selected in the 1985 Draft and part of a 1st round that year that included future Hall of Famers Bruce Smith, Chris Doleman and Jerry Rice.

While at Texas, Gray was a 2-time consensus All-American and 2-time Southwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a S. Gray currently ranks 3rd all-time in Longhorn history with 16 career interceptions. Gray recorded 7 interceptions during the 1984 season, the 2nd most in a single season in school history. Gray was named to the Texas All-Time Team and All-Decade Team for the 1980s. Gray was inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013, becoming the 17th Longhorns player to make it into the Hall of Fame.

A native of Lubbock, Texas, Gray and wife Sherry have two sons - Jeremy, who played football at SMU and currently serves as an intern in the Vikings personnel department, and Jayden. Gray started the Jerry Gray Foundation in 2002, providing scholarships to the underprivileged to attend college and actively support youth in Lubbock.