Jerry Gray is in his first season as assistant head coach/defense for the Atlanta Falcons and his 36th season in the NFL.
Gray comes to Atlanta with 26 years of NFL coaching experience, including eight as a defensive coordinator and 16 as a defensive backs/secondary coach. In his 24 NFL seasons as a defensive coordinator or a defensive backs/secondary coach, Gray has helped defenses to top-10 league rankings in scoring defense 10 times, in overall defense 11 times and in passing defense 13 times. He has worked with defensive backs who have combined for 14 Pro Bowl selections in his 16 seasons coaching the position, with at least one of his players earning Pro Bowl recognition in 10 of those seasons. During Gray's time working with the secondary, six different players earned first-team or second-team All-Pro honors from The Associated Press.
Gray most recently served as the defensive backs/passing game coordinator for the Green Bay Packers. In his three seasons (2020-22) with Green Bay, the Packers have finished in the top 10 in passing defense in all three years.
In 2022, Green Bay's defense finished sixth in passing defense, limiting opponents to 197.0 yards per game, and tied for fourth in interceptions with 17. Under Gray's guidance, cornerback Jaire Alexander earned All-Pro honors from the Associated Press for the second time in three seasons with Gray. In 2020, Alexander became the first Packers cornerback to earn All-Pro honors since Charles Woodson in 2011.
In 2021, Gray helped the Packers finish in the top 10 in total defense (328.2 ypg.), passing defense (219.1 ypg.), takeaways (26) and interceptions (18). Cornerback Rasul Douglas had a career year, returning two interceptions for touchdowns, tie for the fourth-most in a season in franchise history.
Gray joined Green Bay after spending six seasons (2014-19) as the defensive backs coach for the Minnesota Vikings. During his time with Minnesota, he was a part of a defensive staff that helped the Vikings rank in the Top 10 in the league in scoring defense for five straight seasons (2015-19), one of only two teams in the NFL to do so over that span (New England). Minnesota ranked second in the NFL in scoring defense (19.3 ppg) and third in overall defense (321.8 ypg.) and passing defense (214.7 ypg.) from 2014-19.
In Minnesota, Gray tutored safety Harrison Smith, who earned Pro Bowl recognition in five consecutive seasons (2015-19) and first-team all-pro honors in 2017. Gray also worked with cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who was selected to the Pro Bowl three times (2016-17, 2019) and earned first-team all-pro recognition in 2017 as the Vikings had two defensive backs earn first-team All-Pro honors in the same season for the first time since 1988.
In 2019, Gray's defensive backs helped the Vikings to Top 10 league rankings in scoring defense (18.9 ppg.), takeaways (31) and interceptions (17). Safety Anthony Harris, who entered the NFL as a college free agent in 2015, tied for the league lead with a career-high six interceptions in his first season as a full-time starter – becoming the first Viking to lead the NFL in the category since safety Brian Russell tied for the league lead in 2003.
The 2018 Vikings ranked fourth in the NFL in total defense (309.7 ypg.), the third straight season finishing in the top five in the league in the category. Under Gray's tutelage, Smith earned second-team all-pro honors as the team's defensive backs helped the Vikings lead the league in third-down defense (30.5 pct.) for the second straight season. In 2017, Minnesota led the NFL in both scoring defense (15.8 ppg.) and total defense (275.9 ypg.), marking the first time the Vikings had done so since 1970. Gray's secondary helped limit opponents to 192.4 passing yards per game – second in the NFL – in 2017, the best mark posted by Minnesota since 1993 (179.4 ypg.).
In 2016, Gray's defensive backs helped the Vikings rank sixth in scoring defense (19.2 ppg) and third in both total defense (314.9 ypg.) and passing defense (207.9 ypg.). Rhodes and Smith both earned Pro Bowl recognition, giving Minnesota its first secondary duo in the Pro Bowl since cornerback Audray McMillian and safety Todd Scott in 1992. In 2015, the Vikings ranked fifth in the NFL in scoring defense (18.9 ppg.) and won their first NFC North title since 2009.
In Gray's first season with Minnesota in 2014, he helped the defense rank seventh in passing defense (223.3 ypg.) after the Vikings had finished 31st in the league in the category in 2013 (287.2 ypg.). Gray's group also helped engineer the largest improvement in the NFL in points allowed from 2013 to 2014 as the Vikings gave up just 343 points in 2014 (11th) after allowing 480 points in 2013 (32nd).
Prior to coming to Minnesota, Gray spent the previous three seasons (2011-13) as the defensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans. In 2012, Gray's unit ranked seventh in the NFL in interceptions (19) and 10th in sacks (39). In his first season as coordinator with the Titans, the team finished eighth in the NFL in scoring defense (19.8 ppg.) and 10th in red-zone defense (47.9 percent).
In 2010, Gray served as the defensive backs coach for the Seattle Seahawks and tutored rookie safety Earl Thomas, who started all 16 games and ranked third among rookies with five interceptions.
From 2006-09, Gray coached the secondary for Washington, where he helped the team rank in the Top 10 in scoring defense in three consecutive seasons (2007-09) and in passing defense in back-to-back seasons (2008-09). During his time with Washington, Gray tutored safety Sean Taylor, who earned two Pro Bowl selections (2006-07) and second-team All-Pro honors in 2007.
Gray spent the previous five seasons (2001-05) as the defensive coordinator for the Bills, helping the team rank second in total defense in back-to-back seasons (2003-04). The 2004 campaign also saw Buffalo finish in the Top 10 in scoring defense (17.8 ppg.), passing defense (164.0 ypg.), takeaways (39), interceptions (24) and sacks (45). The 2003 Bills ranked fifth in scoring defense (17.4 ppg.), second in passing defense (169.2 ypg.) and tied for ninth in sacks (38).
Gray coached the defensive backs for the Titans in 1999-2000, helping Tennessee's defense set a single-season franchise record for points allowed (11.9 ppg) in 2000. That season saw the Titans lead the league in both total defense (238.3 ypg.) and passing defense (151.4 ypg.) – the only time in franchise history that the club led the NFL in both categories. Second-year cornerback Samari Rolle and safety Blaine Bishop both earned Pro Bowl recognition under Gray's tutelage in 2000, with Rolle earning first-team all-pro honors and Bishop taking home second-team all-pro recognition.
Gray's first NFL coaching job came in 1997-98 with the Tennessee Oilers as defensive quality control coach. He coached defensive backs at Southern Methodist University in 1995-96, starting at the school one season after retiring as a player.
As a player, Gray earned four Pro Bowl selections (1986-89), twice earned second-team all-pro honors (1986, 1989) and recorded 28 interceptions during his nine-year NFL career. Originally selected by the Los Angeles Rams in the first round (21st overall) of the 1985 NFL Draft, Gray went on to play seven seasons with the Rams (1985-91), one season with the Houston Oilers (1992) and one season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1993). Gray was named the NFL's Defensive Back of the Year by the NFLPA in 1989 and won Pro Bowl MVP honors in 1990. He posted at least six interceptions in a season three times from 1986-92, tied for the third-most in the NFL over that span.
Gray was a two-time consensus All-America selection at the University of Texas, where he also was twice named the Southwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a safety (1983-84). He is a member of the University of Texas' All-Time Team and was selected to the school's All-Decade Team for the 1980s. Gray graduated with a degree in speech communications.
Gray was born Dec. 16, 1962, in Lubbock, Texas. He and his wife, Sherry, have two sons, Jeremy and Jayden. In 2002, Gray started the Jerry Gray Foundation, which supports youth in Lubbock and provides scholarships to the underprivileged.