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Herm Edwards: Escape Artist or Visionary?

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by djaparz
Contributing Columnist

There has been a lot of talk of the NY Jets coaches being “thrown under the busâ€? by head coach Herman Edwards. But I see a head coach making changes to improve this team and taking it to the next level…

The New York Jets have had 16 different head coaches in their history. Bill Belichick was named the head coach twice, never coaching one game in that position. Prior to the 1997 season, he was named head coach, then renamed assistant head coach (and defensive coordinator) after the Patriots and the NFL came to an agreement to let Bill Parcells take over as the head coach. Bill Belichick knew he would be named successor after Parcells retired. That took place right after the 1999-2000 seasons when Parcells “retiredâ€?. Talk about throwing someone under the bus! Parcells was left looking foolish when Belichick moved on to bigger and better things in New England After Belichick resigned, Parcells then threw Al Groh under the bus by nominating him for the job…until Groh jumped ship right after the 2000 season.


Herman Edwards took over an aging team that Parcells left in cap hell which Al Groh had just bolted after one year. The team started extremely slow the first two seasons that Herm was in control. In his first game, they were blown away at home vs the Colts but made the playoffs on a 53-yard field goal in Oakland. The next week the team was bounced out of the playoffs by the same Oakland team they had just beaten six days earlier. The following season the team started off 1-4. After Testerverde went down, Herm threw the clip-board holding Chad Pennington into the starting position. The Jets overcame a late season loss to the lowly Bears and, with a lot of luck and help, they blew away the Packers and won the AFC East for only there second time in their history. They then went on to shut out a Colts team by the score of 41 -0. A week later, Chad Pennington fell apart against the Raiders in Oakland, earning yet another early playoff exit.

The 2003 season ended in August when Pennington broke his wrist. The team never recovered. They ended up 6-10. Through the first 3 years of Herman Edwards regime the fans, reporters and sometimes the players said that the offensive play calling was too conservative and predictable. Each week fans would call local sports talk radio shows and post on team message boards to complain that the offense needs to open it up. While all this was going on, an aging defense was getting slower and slower. The run defense diminished, and the back-up running backs made them look like swiss-cheese. So, at the end of a dismal 6-10 season coach Edwards fired Teddy Cottrel – whom alot of fans affectionately called “Fat Teddy”–and went out hired Donnie Henderson. They drafted the Defensive Rookie of the Year, ILB Jonathan Vilma, and released some old, slow dead weight in Mo Lewis & Marvin Jones. Now some people have said that Herm threw Teddy under the bus. If any one was watching the Jets defense this year you can see that they played with intensity. Dewayne Robertson looked like the 1st round pick we had always wanted. John Abraham had 9 ½ sacks in 12 games. Run stopping was now aggressive, and the defense held some of the leagues top running backs to fewer than 100 yards. Even Bryan Thomas, the first-round bust from a few years back, stepped in for an injured John Abraham and played very well. Teddy Cottrel, the man that was so-called “thrown under the bus” was now in Minnesota. The Vikings ended the season ranked 27th in the NFL in total defense. The Jets were ranked 7th. Herm had made a huge upgrade at the defensive coordinator position. It was not about Herm’s job security, it was about getting better. This year, despite a 5-0 start, the offense was still very predictable. The games played early on were against weak teams (with the exception of San Diego, who ended up winning their division). Chad was injured vs Buffalo and Quincy Carter was put in the starting role. Quincy went 2-1 during the three games that Chad was sidelined. He should have been 3-0 but the infamous Baltimore game was his only loss. Lamont Jordan threw an INT on an HB option pass as the Jets were threatening to go up 21-0. This loss falls squarely on the coaching staff. Herm & Paul Hackett blew a late 4th quarter touchdown drive by not managing the clock. Now, some say that the blame belongs to Quincy, some say Hackett and some say Herm. The Jets blew a big lead and then coasted until the last drive of the 4th quarter. Should Herm have hurried the play calling up? YES. Should Hackett or Herm tell Quincy to take the 5-yard delay of game penalty? YES. But, bottom line, is that they should never have been in that position to lose. In the press conference Herm made excuses: The play came in late; It was Quincy’s fault; It was Hackett’s fault, etc. Later in the week NFL Network replayed the game. Herm was wearing a microphone and he was heard yelling in the head set “we need a play, we need a play!â€? He was also heard asking running back coach Bishop Harris if Lamont Jordan knew to either run or throw the ball away if the receiver was not open during the HB option play. Was it Herm’s fault? Or was it Hackett’s? I guess it depends on who you hate more.

In the playoffs the Jets won on the road for the first time in 23 years by beating San Diego in overtime. In that game, Chad finally threw downfield and was successful. If not for a conservative Marty Schottenheimer, the Jets would have been bounced when rookie kicker Nate Kaeding missed a 43-yard field goal that would have won the game. The Jets lived on and played tooth and nail to the end in Pittsburgh. The defense and special teams kept them in the game and in the lead. But we all know how that ended. The offense went conservative and played for a game-winning field goal that was missed, not once, but twice. The tired defense then got pushed down the field until the Steelers hit a field goal to advance.

Herm took a lot of heat for the way that the offense handled the last four plus minutes. Herm, being the head coach, he should take some heat, but not allof it. This is a team sport, and the offense only mustered up three points. Santana Moss was well defended on a beauty of a pass in the end zone that would have been a Jets touchdown. Chad’s passes were off on a few occasions and Lamont and Martin were held under 100 yards each on the ground. But still the defense–which Herm upgraded–had this team on the brink of the AFC Championship game.

Three days after the heart wrenching defeat, Paul Hackett resigned. There was no need for a tar and feathering. Hackett was gone. Some fans said that he resigned because Herm didn’t have the guts to fire him. Some people are never happy! Does it matter how Paul Hackett left Weeb Ewbank Hall? As long as he is gone, I am happy. The articles started popping up that Herm has run out of scapegoats. To me, a scapegoat is someone who is innocent, but is put in the line of fire to take pressure off someone else. Hackett dug his own grave. He never adjusted to Vinny Testaverde when Chad went down in 2003. He never adjusted to Quincy Carter in 2004. The team just never adjusted during the games. Just when you think that team ran its last third-and-nine draw play, they ran it again. Herm has had his ups and downs. His X’s & O’s intelligence can be questioned, but his players play for him. He puts fire under his men and they in turn play with passion.

Some say that Hackett was pushed under the bus by Herm. I say that this resignation was the start of upgrading the offense. Mike Heimerdinger was hired to take this offense to the next level. Last year Teddy was let go and our defense was great. If the new OC can make a impact like the DC then this team will be special.

Herm’s goal is not to be a head coach and just give excuses for losing, Herm is a head coach trying to get this team it second championship. You have to make the playoffs to get to the big game and 3 out the first 4 years Herm’s teams did just that.

Look at the history of the fifteen other head coaches before Herm. With the exception of Weeb Ewbank, only two other coaches have gone further in the playoffs. Walt Michaels and Bill Parcells both made the AFC Championship game. Michaels was fired right after his loss, and Parcells left the year after his. Both coaches never continued to build this team. Herm, from day one through the hiring of the new OC, has been trying to upgrade this team and take it to a new level.

Call him a player’s coach, call him the BBQ chef, but I call him Herm–head coach of the NY Jets, the man who will not leave us until we get our Super Bowl Championship.

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