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Jets begin coaching search with Vitt

by Len Pasquarelli

Joe Vitt, who served as the St. Louis Rams’ interim head coach while Mike Martz was sidelined by a bacterial infection to his heart, will interview early next week for the New York Jets’ vacancy created by the Friday departure of Herm Edwards.

Vitt’s only head coaching experience came with the Rams this season.
Jets general manager Terry Bradway said in a press release Friday that he would begin interviewing potential successors to Edwards “immediately,” and apparently wasted little time in contacting Vitt, who posted a 4-7 record as the St. Louis interim coach.

Beyond the interim job, Vitt, who is expected to meet with the Jets on Monday, has never been a head coach at any level.

Even before New York and Kansas City arrived at a compensation agreement that allowed Edwards out of the final two years of his contract, Jets officials had begun the process of drawing up possible successors. It is believed that the Jets’ list includes several former NFL head coaches. New York officials are expected to interview some current assistants, most likely offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger and defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson, some time next week.

It is believed that Jets owner Woody Johnson and Bradway prefer someone with previous NFL head coach experience. That could mean recently deposed coaches such as Mike Sherman (Green Bay) and Jim Haslett (New Orleans) might be candidates.

Each of the last four Jets head coaches — Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Al Groh and Edwards — departed the team without being fired. Parcells retired, Belichick resigned, Groh left to accept the head coach position at the University of Virginia and Edwards exited to accept the Chiefs’ opening.

Clearly, the Jets will seek a candidate who will bring stability to the organization.

Vitt, 51, is a 27-year NFL veteran, principally serving as a linebackers coach and defensive coordinator in the league. He was hospitalized early this week with a staph infection in his hand, but is expected to be released over the weekend. Vitt is not a candidate to fill the Rams’ head coach vacancy.

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