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Herman Edwards Press Conference – 9/26/05

COACH EDWARDS 9.26.05 Courtesy of The New York Jets

COACH EDWARDS: As far as the injury, BJ Askew still has an ankle, Fabini had an MCL sprain on his right knee. We’re going to try to fit him with a brace and see where he’s at at this point. Jay Fiedler and Chad Pennington are getting their MRIs today. We’ll know 24 hours from now exactly where they stand and what’s in the future for both those guys. At this point, I’m preparing Brooks Bollinger to be our starting quarterback this weekend. That’s kind of where that’s at as far as injuries go. As I said, I’ll know more 24 hours from now on the status of both Jay and Chad Pennington.

As far as the game, again, as I said last night, it was a game that going in we felt was going to be a defensive game. Turned out that way for the most part. Field position, kicking was a big key for both teams, I thought. We had some opportunities to make some plays in the game, and we didn’t make them. When you’re playing a game like that, where it’s very, very tight, you have to make those plays to win the game. We had some chances and we didn’t do it.

I thought our guys played hard all through the whole game. We were down by 10, got back into the game. We got down again, got back into the game. I thought our defense for the most part played pretty good in stretches, put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. They ran the ball. When you look at how many times they ran, they ran it 47 times for 139 yards. You can anticipate they’re probably going to make some yards rushing when they run that much.

Turnovers hurt us a little bit, giving up 10 points on turnovers. Obviously the time of possession was a big factor, too. They had the ball for 40 minutes, we had it for 25. They basically had the ball for 15 minutes more than we did.

It’s one of those games where you had a chance at the end to win and we didn’t quite get it done. We have to go back and prepare this week and go play Baltimore. Walking into the same type of situation. They have a very, very good defense. We have to play good defense again to give ourselves a chance to win.

Q. And Barton?
COACH EDWARDS: Ankle, strain right now.

Q. Are you more optimistic with either Jay or Chad?
COACH EDWARDS: I’ll know more probably tomorrow, to let you know exactly where they’re at, what their status is. Right now I’m preparing Bollinger to be the starter.

Q. Do you feel like you’re going to have to go out and find another quarterback during the week?
COACH EDWARDS: I’ll know tomorrow, the status of both our quarterbacks.

Q. Have you reached out to see if a guy would be available?
COACH EDWARDS: That process will probably start this evening, once we know more on the status of these guys. But obviously we’re going to have to bring somebody in probably, yeah, I would think.

Q. Can you think back to another moment in your coaching career where you were in a situation, preparing a quarterback with limited experience?
COACH EDWARDS: No. Basically, I’m trying to think, Shaun King was a second guy, not the third. Never a third. The second, I can remember Shaun King having to go in late into our season in Tampa. We made a run and got to the NFC championship game when he was a rookie with that. We played pretty good defense that year, were able to do some things.

Q. What do you like about Brooks?
COACH EDWARDS: Obviously, he’s a heady player, he’s a gamer. He can move around, make some plays with his legs. That’s what he does well. When he’s gone into games, he always seems to move the team. Obviously, if he can do that for us this week, put some points on the board, that would be great to see. He’s been a guy that’s been here, he’s been looking for a chance, he’s going to get a chance obviously this weekend to play.

Q. What about last year?
COACH EDWARDS: Arizona. He did a good job. He came in, really got a little drive going in Arizona when Quincy got hurt. Came in the football game, did a good job of moving the team. In the pre­season I thought when he played with the varsity guys, he did a pretty good job of moving the ball with the team. He’s always been that way. He’s a tough guy. He’s looking for a chance, he’s going to get his chance.

Q. If Chad’s MRI shows something structural, would you still be inclined, because of what he’s been through with that shoulder, to give him a week off?
COACH EDWARDS: Yes, I would.

Q. Would you make that decision today?
COACH EDWARDS: You know, the final decision at this point, I would say Brooksy, I’m preparing him to play, and I think he will play in my opinion right now.

Q. It sounded like Chad was going to be very assertive about playing. If he’s like that with you and the MRI shows (indiscernible), would you listen to him or do you say, “Enough”?
COACH EDWARDS: I always listen. I’m a good listener. I’m a very good listener. But then I get to make the choice. You learn in life, you got to be a good listener. It’s not always what you say; it’s what you hear other people say. I’m a very good listener. I’ll take into consideration who’s talking to me, how he’s talking, what I see and make a decision if it gets to that.

Q. You let him go back in yesterday. Did you have reservations at that point?
COACH EDWARDS: I think he gave us the best chance to do what we needed to do to try to win the game at that point. He was hurting. I had reservations. He felt that he could go in. He did some things at the end that helped us. We make a catch at the end, hold on to it, probably win the game. Guy made a good play. He made a good throw. Didn’t turn out that way.

Q. Any indication of what you might expect from your medical staff?
COACH EDWARDS: The MRI isn’t done here.

Q. Anything from your guys?
COACH EDWARDS: No, not at this point. Not at this point. Like I said, 24 hours I should know both these guys’ status, give everyone the information as soon as I get it.

Q. In terms of reaching out to somebody, it will probably depend on the status of both these guys, right, whether it’s a one­week deal?
COACH EDWARDS: Right, exactly.

Q. Vinny is out there. Is that an option for you?
COACH EDWARDS: I think there are some guys out there. Obviously, Vinny is one. There’s a lot of guys out there when you start looking through the files. There’s guys out there. You just want to make sure that you’re doing the right thing. You want to make sure the status of the two guys that you’re dealing with right now, you got to figure that out, where that’s at.

Q. Does Jay appear to be more serious than Chad?
COACH EDWARDS: I don’t know that. I’ll know more obviously. When I find out, I’m going to let everyone know.

Q. When Chad told you he could go back in the game, do you consult with the doctors on the sideline, that he couldn’t hurt it any worse?
COACH EDWARDS: Yeah. That and I know Chad. If he didn’t think he could do something, he wouldn’t have said, “I’m going back.” So he did. He made a couple throws at the end there, short throws we knew he could make. Tried to put him in position to make those, not put him in harm’s way. He did. In the end, came up a little short.

Q. Because Chad was limited, over the course of the game, how much would that affect the opposing defense against you if they know coming in that he can’t throw the ball more than 16 yards?
COACH EDWARDS: Obviously, they’re going to squat on things you try to do. You have to make adjustments on that in the game. That’s what you have to do when you play offense. Sometimes that dictates some of the things you want to do. You have to work your way around that.

Q. Recently there’s been talk about the Jets obviously renegotiating the contract with Giants Stadium.

Q. There’s talk about the possibility of the Jets coming back to New York. Has this been a distraction to the players and coaches? What’s the status of that?
COACH EDWARDS: The status of it, I don’t know. I’m not involved in that part. You’d have to ask Jay Cross and those folks. As far as being a distraction to our football team, no, not at all. I think our players understand Mr. Johnson and Jay Cross, they’re trying to find a home for the Jets. Whatever they decide I think is their decision. The one fell through in Manhattan, but obviously it’s still on the books where they want to go, how they want to do it. Once they decide, we’ll go. Whenever they decide we go, that’s where we’re going.

Q. In terms of the running game, do you think Curtis left some yards out there, or the offensive line wasn’t getting it done?
COACH EDWARDS: I think when you stack the box, you’re playing in a game like that, you always can leave some yards, you can say that. It’s easy for a coach to say because he’s not running the ball. He doesn’t have Curtis Martin’s eyes. Who is to say whether Curtis left yards or not. He’s a Hall of Fame running back.
I think obviously we didn’t get enough possessions. We had 51 possessions, I think they had 73. It was tough. It was tough sledding for us. We didn’t make a lot of runs. Ran the ball for (89 yards) I don’t know how many yards we ran the ball for, but we didn’t run it much. With that in mind, it’s tough because you become one­handed. Even when you’re playing good defense, you never want to become one­handed.
They were the exact opposite how they played. They ran the ball 47 times. They were in a game where they felt they couldn’t protect the quarterback very well. They played it close. Both teams played the same way. Their punter did a great job of punting. I thought our punter did a pretty good job of punting. First couple possessions, we were in the minus territory. We were in the minus three, minus four.
That’s how they played the game. We were playing the game the same way. Both teams knew that it was going to be a defensive game. I think a lot of the scores were really dictated by how your defense played and the field position you had offensively. They did the same thing.
I think the one time they went spread, tried to get fancy, that’s when John sacked him, ball comes out, we score the touchdown, take the lead. I think when you get into those games, you know what you’re fighting against and you don’t want to beat yourself by turning the ball over. We turned it over three times, they turned it over three times. Even in turnovers, we had some chances to make some more plays, but we didn’t do it. They made the plays that were necessary to win the game. It boiled down to that at the end.

Q. Do you know what the severity of the strain is on (inaudible)? One, two, three?
COACH EDWARDS: It’s a two.

Q. The indication is they can get it braced?
COACH EDWARDS: Yes. It’s inside, it’s not outside. Yeah, uh­huh.

Q. Logistically speaking, do you know the reason he had the MRI this morning and the quarterbacks are having them later?
COACH EDWARDS: Waited till later on this afternoon for those guys.

Q. Why?
COACH EDWARDS: I’m not the doctor. I’m just the coach. I’m just the messenger.

Q. From a personal standpoint about Chad, the guy works hard to get back after last year, what are your thoughts, him having another setback?
COACH EDWARDS: You feel sorry for any player that gets injured, especially the way he works. Hopefully he can recover from it and he’ll get back. It’s always tough, you know. Obviously, my relationship with him is a good relationship. You feel bad, you really do. Makes your stomach hurt. You never know why. You try to sit and try to figure out why. You can’t figure out why. Just part of the game, I guess. There’s some good parts about it and there’s not some good parts about it. Any time a player gets hurt, that’s not good. You hate to see players get injured.
I was talking to Donovan Darius before the game, had a good conversation with him. Told him it’s never in our hands. When we think it’s in our hands, we’re fooling ourselves, because it’s not. He understood what I was talking about.

Q. When Shaun King got injured in 2003 (inaudible)?
COACH EDWARDS: Not yet. It’s always tough for us to talk. We’ll talk a little later.

Q. As much as you talked about it hurts personally, but professionally eventually you have to come to a judgment on a player like Chad about whether he is injury­prone, he’s too frail, you have to perhaps look elsewhere.
COACH EDWARDS: I look at it like this. Before he got here, he was never injured. When he came in, he started for Vinny, we made the change, he wasn’t injured. All of a sudden the last couple years, he’s hit some bad luck, he’s been injured.
I don’t know if he’s injury­prone. It seems like that. When you look at his career. In college, he was always there, always played. He came here, when he started, when he had to start the one year, got through, played fantastic for us. The next year he gets hurt. Next year he gets hit again and gets a little hurt. He’s hit a spell of bad luck. No different than John Lynch when I was in Tampa. John Lynch was always getting injured. A little had to do with the way he was tackling people. I got there and I started coaching him, we started talking about how he would tackle. All of a sudden he didn’t get hurt any more.
I just think sometimes that happens. Players get hurt. Marvin Jones, he came here, had a great career here. He got injured. Everyone thought that was it. All of a sudden he didn’t get injured any more.
I don’t know if you say a guy is injury­prone. If it happens year after year after year, you might be right. I wouldn’t say that at this point. It’s too early.

Q. Obviously hindsight is 20/20. Is there a part of you that thinks you may have brought Chad back a little too soon?
COACH EDWARDS: This season?

Q. Yes.
COACH EDWARDS: No. I think what we thought, we knew going in he’s almost seven, eight months in, and the only way he was going to get ready to play was he had to play. I just think when you’re dealing with something like that, did we think he was going to be a hundred percent? No, it was seven or eight months into the surgery. But he had to throw the ball. He wanted to do it. We knew that we were going to bring him along the way we did. We thought we brought him along right. So happens to be all of a sudden now, something is happening, and we’ll find out the severity of it. I just think that’s what we all understood, so that’s what we did. That was the plan. We didn’t jump to a conclusion. We had a plan, and that was the plan.

Q. How do you expect the situation to affect the psyche of the team?
COACH EDWARDS: Our guys are very resilient, and they have to be, because that’s a part of being a professional. I think these guys, whatever happens, they’re going to play, they’re going to play like they did last week. I believe that. I just believe the character of your team comes out now. We have a bunch of guys on this team with great character. We’ll play that way. That’s what I told them when I talked to them today. I said, “Hey, you got to play the same way every week. Keep playing, good things happen to you. We’ll win some games like this, but you got to play hard, you got to play four quarters, keep competing.” That’s what they’ll do.
One thing about this team, since I’ve been here, the players I’ve dealt with always understood that’s part of the deal, that we’re going to play and we’re going to play till we have nothing left in our gas tank. That’s how we’re going to play, that’s how we’re going to approach every game.

Q. Would you be surprised if Brooks didn’t play Sunday?
COACH EDWARDS: Would I be surprised? No, I wouldn’t be surprised. If he did or didn’t?

Q. Would you be surprised if Brooks did not play? Do you think Brooks is going to play on Sunday?
COACH EDWARDS: Yes, sir, I do. That’s my gut feeling. That’s my gut feeling, yes, sir. That was my gut feeling last night. I could be dead wrong. Your gut tells you one thing. Like my daddy used to say, trust in your gut because it don’t lie to you. So far he’s been right. Taught me a lot of good things. That’s one thing he taught me. That’s my opinion now. I could be wrong. That’s just my opinion.

Q. The only way that would change is if the MRI shows something you didn’t expect?
COACH EDWARDS: Yeah. Or you go out here, come back tomorrow, go out there, the guy looks okay, all that. My gut tells me that ain’t happening.

Q. We asked Chad how he felt when he got back out there. Like last year. Something obviously you don’t want to hear. When you hear that statement?
COACH EDWARDS: I knew that in his eyes when he said he was going back in. I know the kid. I know him. I know what he’s about.

Q. Have you seen Chad today?
COACH EDWARDS: Not a good day for me to see him today.

Q. Don’t know if he woke up sore?
COACH EDWARDS: I can imagine he did. See what’s happening. We’ll know later on.

Q. When you say that, what do you mean?
COACH EDWARDS: He’s not here. If he’s over there, he’s getting an MRI.

Q. Saying it’s not a good day for you to see him today. Emotions and all?
COACH EDWARDS: The whole deal.

Q. If Brooks is the starter, do you have any idea who the backup might be?
COACH EDWARDS: Once we find out what’s happening with those two guys, I don’t
know. I don’t know.

Q. Conceivably the guy you signed?
COACH EDWARDS: The backup guy?

Q. Yes.
COACH EDWARDS: If these two guys can’t go, absolutely. Can’t go in a game with one quarterback. I can’t play quarterback. I can’t do that. Did that a long time ago in Philly. Third­string quarterback. A lot of people don’t know that. It’s history.

Q. On QB Ricky Ray possibly signing…
COACH EDWARDS: The kid from Canada. I don’t know. We’ll figure it out, though. All the powers to be will huddle up. We’ll get a lot of phone calls from agents tonight, I will assume. Any agents you know, tell them to call.

Q. Is it conceivable, if the MRI shows no structural damage, that Chad could be the backup?
COACH EDWARDS: That could be a possibility, yeah, could be. Absolutely.

Q. On his philosophy of QB usage?
COACH EDWARDS: Different philosophy. Different situation. That’s what you got to deal with. Every situation is different. We don’t handle them all the same. This is obviously done in a different manner.

Q. Any silver lining at all in the fact you’re playing low­scoring games? Defenses will be deciding these things.
COACH EDWARDS: Hey, that’s what you’re doing. You’re playing special teams and you’re playing defensive football. You’re playing keep the score low, you got a shot. That’s how you got to do it. Don’t turn the ball over on offense. After a while you figure out the cards you’re dealt, you got to play the cards. You play ’em. That’s okay. Just got to play ’em. You just keep playing. You can win that way.
There’s a lot of ways you can win in this league. There’s not just one way. You got to know what you have. We know what we have at this point. We’re going to play that way. We’re not going to make any excuses for it. One thing, you folks see me stand up here, I never make an excuse. I don’t do that. We’re going to be play and we’re going to be fine.

Q. Last year when the tests showed Chad had a tear, you kept that concealed for whatever reason. How do we know whether it’s the same deal? What is the reasoning for that last year?
COACH EDWARDS: There’s a reason for everything. I’m not going to give you that information. I’ll put it this way: tomorrow you’ll know exactly Chad’s status and you’ll know Jay Fiedler’s status, whether they are the first, second or third quarterback.

Q.Will we know about the MRI?
COACH EDWARDS: Yes. If it’s something ­­ yeah, yeah.

Q. You know where I’m coming from?
COACH EDWARDS: I know exactly where you’re coming from. I think you know where I’m coming from. I understand you; you understand me. Help me to help you. Different scenario last year than it is right now, right? A little different.

Q. Chad said he had a sharp pain in his shoulder. Did he say that to you on the sideline? Were you aware of that?
COACH EDWARDS: Yeah. I knew exactly what was going on. I saw when it happened.

Q. Did he try to gauge the pain?
COACH EDWARDS: No. I knew where he was at. I went up and talked to him, knew exactly where he was at. I said we’re going to put Brooksy in. He came up to me, grabbed me, said, “No, I can still be okay. I’m all right.” I said, “Okay.” I kind of knew where he was coming from. I knew all right. He could throw it. He couldn’t throw it very far, but he could throw it. On his gut, he could throw it. He could do some things that we tried to do.

Q. When Chad came back on the field, when he came off the field, he was limping.
COACH EDWARDS: He hit his knee. His knee is okay. Everybody thought he had a knee. No, his knee’s fine.

Q. When a player like Chad and Curtis have a high threshold for pain, where does that come from?
COACH EDWARDS: I think it’s just their makeup, their mental makeup. Some guys are just tougher than other guys. A lot of it has to do with adrenaline. When the adrenaline is rushing, you can do a lot of things when the adrenaline is rushing. All of a sudden when you stop, the next day you wake up, you go, “Whoa, what happened here?” They have that threshold. They take pride in what they do. They have a pain tolerance that a lot of guys don’t have.
You have to be a little careful with them, too, but you have to know when you’re around them long enough, I’ve been around them going on five years, I kind of know what they are. I kind of know if they’re trying to hoodwink me, too. When I ask them the right question, I know the answer I need. If they don’t give it to me, that’s kind of their telling me, “I can’t go, coach, but I’m not going to tell you that.” They give me another answer. I know these guys pretty good.

Q. What are the intangibles that Brooks brings to the table?
COACH EDWARDS: I just think he’s been in a spot where he’s very competitive, very hard on his­self. Played good college football, was in a competitive conference. Always found ways to move the team. He’s a gutty guy, a gutty football player. He’s a tough guy, can throw his body around. He’s that kind of guy. He plays that way when he gets in the game. Sometimes in practice he’s not fun to look at. Sometimes as a quarterback, he’s not very tall, sometimes it looks like when he’s throwing the ball, it looks like he’s throwing it out of a cannon. He’s pretty good. He finds ways to move the team.
He’s not a pretty passer when he passes it, but he finds ways to throw it in little alleys. He’s always had to do that because he’s not a tall enough guy. He understands that. That’s what he brings to the table. He’s got a lot of energy. He plays with a lot of energy. He’s an energetic guy, he really is.

Q. Because of his mobility, can he actually help the running?
COACH EDWARDS: He can move. We don’t want him in harm’s way. We don’t want him all of a sudden running around for 50 yards a game. He’s not the biggest guy.

Q. On if the problem with the running game is execution?
COACH EDWARDS: A little bit of that. A little bit of certain situations in the game when you’re backed up, the first two series, we’re in a position where we’re backing up into the end zone, we’re handing the ball off half the time. You can’t go back there and throw because if you do, bad things could happen to you. You’re trying to get out of there and the teams gang up on you. They got to run. Smart thing says run. You look at both teams. Both teams did the same thing. They were backed up, they turned around, ran the ball three times in a row. Weren’t going to take a chance of turning the ball over.
You know, down there, you turn it over, you’re giving up three points right now. When you’re playing in a defensive game, and it was a defensive game, both teams had that mentality. That’s how we both played.

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