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A Walk Down Memory Lane through the "Successful" Years

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by Sperm Edwards

2000 NYJ (Al Groh): 9-7

• Very up & down year, but most concede it was due to poor motivation & the players just flat-out disliking Groh. Pushed them too hard in preseason & they ran out of gas after starting 6-1.

• Also was Testaverde’s return from Achilles tendon injury.

• Among the teams they beat were Miami (11-5) twice, Tampa Bay (10-6) and Green Bay (9-7). They split with the Colts (10-6).

• Missed chip-shot FG vs Detroit at home. If the Jets had beaten Baltimore the following week they would have made the playoffs. This ultimately cost them a trip to the playoffs.

• Opponents’ records were combined 145-111 (.566).

• Four went to the Pro Bowl (Anderson, Glenn, Lewis, Mawae).

• Other notable players included Chad Pennington, John Abraham, Shaun Ellis, Jason Ferguson, Curtis Martin, and Wayne Chrebet.

2001 NYJ (Herm Edwards): 10-6

• Edwards has no prior HC experience in the NFL, college, high school, or Pop-Warner. Edwards has no prior OC experience at any of those levels. Edwards has no prior DC experience at any of those levels. Edwards was never the special teams coach at any of those levels. As such, Edwards was never responsible for coming up with a game plan for a single football game prior to his hiring.

• Takes over a team with a veteran 3-4 defense with cover-corners, hires a DC (Ted Cottrell) whose specialty is the 3-4, & inserts a 4-man front, cover-2 base package that was successful in Tampa Bay (never considering that TB had 4-5 defensive pro-bowlers who made it work).

• Though the offense had an immobile pocket passer who missed the ’99 season with a ruptured Achilles tendon, and short WRs (Chrebet, Coles, Moss), shifted the team to a west-coast offense under Paul Hackett (who had just been fired for running the USC program into the ground after three years. Since his removal from USC, they are the best team in the USA. Prior to that he was fired from the OC position in KC).

• After an 8.5 sack rookie season, decided to move huge DE Shaun Ellis to DT, a colossal flop.

• Started out 1-2 including an unwatchable offensive plodding vs. the 6-10 Colts (down by three touchdowns we were still eating 8+ minutes of clock up on one drive running the ball in the 2nd half).

• Teams beat were NE (11-5) in the game that Lewis knocked Bledsoe out, Miami (11-5) twice, and Oakland (10-6).

• Eked out 1-point victories vs. the Bengals (6-10), Colts (6-10), and Panthers (1-15) and a 6-pt win vs. the 3-13 Bills before losing to those same Bills in a win-and-we’re-in game 15.

• Made the playoffs on a 50-yd FG in Oakland in the last game.

• Opponents’ records were combined 131-125 (.511).

• Lost the WC game in Oakland.

• Four went to the Pro Bowl (Abraham, Glenn, Martin, Mawae).
• Offense was #26 in yards; #17 in pts
• Defense was #17 in yards; #12 in points.

2002 NYJ: 9-7, Division champions

• In an effort to better enable the team to complete the switch to Edwards’ cover-2 base package, salary-cap purges Aaron Glenn & Marcus Coleman were replaced by Aaron Beasley and Donnie Abraham. To better facilitate Ellis’ move to DT, Edwards brought in DE Steve White which led GM Bradway to reach for a speedy DE in the 1st round (Bryan Thomas) to groom behind White. None of the players Edwards knew and/or requested panned out. Only Donnie Abraham proved to be a serviceable starter for 3 years. Since then, Thomas is still 2nd-string; Ellis went back to DE; Beasley (released), Abraham (retired), and White (released) are no longer with the team.

• Team started out 1-4. Their lone win in the first five games resulted from Chad Morton’s kickoff return TD in overtime (his 2nd of the game) vs. the Bills. The following three games, with no injuries to speak of, the Jets were outscored 102-13.

• During that stretch, RB Curtis Martin had two very bad high ankle sprains and did not miss a game. Edwards would not start LaMont Jordan for even one game, or give Jordan as many as 6 carries in any game.

• Game 5 they blew a lead to KC by getting too conservative too early on offense (an Edwards/Hackett trademark for their entire NYJ tenure).

• Game 7 blew a 21-3 lead to the Cleveland Browns & lost 24-21 for the same reason.

• Damien Robinson brought the shotgun to Giants Stadium in the trunk of his car on Oct 14, 2001 (soon after 9/11).

Ellis was moved back to DE and had a sub-par year since he was still carrying the extra weight required for his move to DT.

• Chad Pennington had a magical season and almost single-handedly brought the Jets back from the dead, throwing 22 TD’s to 6 INT’s and going 8-4 in his regular season starts (including the two blown games when the Jets stopped passing way too early).

• With the Jets in control of their own destiny, lost to the (then) 3-10 Chicago Bears.

• Thanks to an improbable outcome in the last game between Miami/NE, the Jets won a three-way tiebreaker as all three teams ended up 9-7. Jets win the division.

• Beat the 10-6 Colts in impressive fashion 41-0 in the wild card game before getting slaughtered 30-10 by the Raiders in the division playoff game a week later.

• After the game, with his star receiver Laveranues Coles not under contract, Edwards comments to the media that the Jets need to get bigger at WR. Coles departs for Washington after the Jets only tender him at $1.3M.

• >.500 teams beat were Miami (9-7), Denver (9-7), NE (9-7), GB (12-4)
• Pro Bowlers were John Abraham and Kevin Mawae

2003 NYJ: 6-10

• Chad Pennington breaks his left wrist in a pre-season game, where rookie FB BJ Askew was responsible for picking up and missing his assignment on the blitz that got Pennington injured. Inexcusable letting a rookie block for the franchise QB in a meaningless preseason game. Pennington is out until game 7.

• Edwards does not let Testaverde start the last pre-season game to work with the first team offense out of fear that he, too, could get injured.

• Testaverde starts very rusty. The offense is not altered at all to take advantage of Testaverde’s arm strength and minimize his lack of mobility (again). Jets lose the first four games, including an embarrassing display of conservatism vs. the Redskins in Washington to kick off the NFL season.

• After winning two games in a row, and with a 10-pt halftime lead over the Eagles, Edwards follows through with his pre-game announcement that Pennington will relieve Vinny during the game. Pennington comes in, blows the lead, and the Jets lose. They also blow a very winnable game to the 4-12 Giants (who would not win another game after that) the following week.

• Won a surprising victory vs the 12-4 Titans who were clearly not taking us seriously. Only other teams they lost to all season (& post-season) were the Colts & Patriots.

• Prior to a late game against New England, Herm is evidently and suddenly not satisfied with Hackett’s game plan of draw plays. He feels we need to be more vertical in the passing game. We know this because he says as much to beat reporters early enough in the week to allow Belichick/Crennel ample time to prepare. Herm (as usual) follows through with his publicized gameplan & Chad throws 5 interceptions for the first & only time in his career.

• Final game we lose yet another winnable game vs. Miami as Herm has officially completed the exorcism of the Jets demons that had plagued Miami.

• Herm decided that the only RB on the team with breakaway speed (Jordan) will now be relegated to goal-line & short-yardage duty. Never mind that he’s a “RB with power� rather than a “power RB.� This is also announced, so any opponent who sees him come into the game (when it’s not garbage-time) is fully aware that the next play will be a handoff to Jordan (more than half his year’s carries were in 2-3 TE sets). In doing this for the entire season, Jordan still has a higher YPC than the “underrated warrior� RB who has the whole field and all the first-second downs to work with unless it’s garbage time to run out the clock at the end of a half. Though healthy, Jordan finishes the year with 46 carries, only 15 of which came after November 1st & only one carry after December 1st.

• On the year, a staggering 87% of the RB carries (including garbage time) went to Curtis Martin so he could amass 1300 yards. By comparison, Jamal Lewis with over 2000 yards got 81%; Ahman Green with almost 1900 yards at 75%.

• Santana Moss starts the year buried behind Wayne Chrebet and Coles replacement–Curtis Conway. No amount of dropped balls gets Conway out of the starting lineup. Only an injury. Once he was finally given the chance, Moss explodes like we all hoped he would when we traded up to draft him two years earlier. He explodes, for 1100 yards and 10 TDs despite only starting 12 games. Numbers never to be approached again until traded.

• Opponents’ records were combined 135-121 (.527), owing much to playing the 14-2 Patriots twice (otherwise we still only went 6-8 (.428) against opponents with a combined .477 win percentage.
• Missed the playoffs
• Two went to the Pro Bowl (Ellis, Mawae).
• Offense was #23 in yards, #21 in pts
• Defense was #20 in yards, #8 in points. Ted Cottrell is fired in the offseason.

2004 NYJ: 10-6

• Team is given the gift of the easiest schedule to start the season in recent memory and win all five of those games, including the Bengals (in Carson Palmer’s first NFL start); the Chargers (one game removed from the NFL’s worst team and two weeks removed from considering starting rookie Phillip Rivers at QB for the season); the 4-12 Dolphins (with no line, no RBs, and a QB controversy in full swing); the then 0-3 Bills; and the 2-14 49ers. Those teams’ combined record at the time of their games with the Jets was 1-11 (1-16 after the losses to the Jets).

• Despite the outcomes, nearly blew the games against the Bengals, Chargers, Bills, and even let the hapless 49ers get out to a 14-0 lead.

• Week 6 the Jets hold the SB champion Patriots (and owners of the #4 offense in 2004) to only 13 points. Our try-to-keep-it-close-until-the-end offensive scheme nets a paltry 7 points (though the rest of the NFL would average over 16 ppg against the Pats).

• After beating up the pathetic Dolphins, the Jets get embarrassed by the Bills as they give us flashbacks to the Ted Cottrell rush-d’s of the past watching Willis McGahee move the chains on 37 carries. Chad Pennington injures his shoulder in the game.

• With Quincy Carter starting effectively and the OL mauling the vaunted Ravens rush defense, the Jets take commanding control of the game, only to watch Hackett/Edwards needlessly attempt an unnecessary HB option that is intercepted and returned for a TD while the Jets were driving into Ravens territory.

• The same game Edwards is caught on camera having Dick Curl telling him how many timeouts we had & when they were to be used; Pennington coaching Herm to instruct Carter on what to do; the clock-killing debacle where Edwards can’t come up with a single play on his own at the end of regulation that put us in a position to have to choose between a play or a FG even though it wasn’t 4th down; also shots of the Ravens’ booth repeatedly and correctly predicting what play would be called as the 4th quarter wound down. In the post-game press conference, Edwards initially lies about a play being relayed to Carter with adequate time, to shift the blame onto the player, before retracting it upon realizing the replay of the game on NFL network showed the polar opposite.

• After beating the 4-12 Browns, 6-10 Cardinals, and 7-9 Texans, the Jets faced the Steelers and failed to score a touchdown as Jordan is stubbornly kept on the sideline despite Martin’s game-long ineffectiveness. (The average opponent scored 16 points per game against the Steelers; the Jets offense managed 12 total points in two games).

• At 10-4, the Jets needed to win one more game to lock up a playoff spot. They came out totally flat for a 23-7 loss vs. NE (the score doesn’t nearly depict how lopsided it was) before losing to the 7-8 Rams. A Buffalo loss to the Steelers 2nd & 3rd-stringers allows the Jets to advance to the post-season anyway.

• Jets squeak by the Chargers despite almost giving the game back on an unsportsmanlike penalty on what should have been the Chargers’ last play in regulation. Chargers missed an overtime FG and the Jets did not.

• Against Pittsburgh, the Jets failed to score a single offensive touchdown. The defense & special teams keep the Jets in the game and are in a position to win it with a field goal despite just missing one the previous possession. With the clock winding down, the Jets decide to predictably run up the middle twice (and get stuffed both times) before Edwards comes up with his crowning achievement as decision maker. Though at Heinz Field, the worst place to kick a FG in the country, and a weak-legged kicker who just missed from >40 yards, it is decided that a 41-yard FG is to be made into a 43-yard FG by kneeling on the ball (which would have been the longest FG ever made at Heinz Field at the time). Brien misses, Jets go on to lose the game.

• Opponents’ record: 134-122 (.523). Played NE (14-2) twice & Pittsburgh (15-1) & lost all 3 games; the other 13 games, Jets opponents record was 91-117 (.438).
• >.500 teams beat: Chargers (12-4), Bills (9-7), Seattle (9-7); also beat the Chargers in the playoffs.
• Two went to the Pro Bowl (J. Abraham, C. Martin).
• Offense was #12 in yds, #17 in pts
• Defense was #7 in yards, #4 in points.

2005 Offseason:

• The playoff loss is placed on Brien, who is released after the draft, and Paul Hackett, who “resigned� at the close of the season.

• Strength & conditioning coach John Lott is also let go.

• Jets add Ty Law; lose Kareem MacKenzie, LaMont Jordan, Jason Ferguson, and Anthony Becht; trade Santana Moss for Laveranues Coles.

• To complement new OC Mike Heimerdinger, Edwards hires a few coaches who will be learning on the job just like he did. (Heimerdinger would end up coaching these coaches almost as much as the players for the entire season).

• Chad Pennington, who has a close personal relationship with Edwards, is not placed under any pressure to get his necessary shoulder surgery performed as soon as possible (since the recovery time will be lengthy, and the Jets would be installing a new offense under Mike Heimerdinger). Immediately after the season he goes on vacation for a few weeks before getting his necessary surgery. He is clearly neither fully healed nor game-ready by week 1.

• Division rival New England loses OC Charlie Weis and DC Romeo Crennel

• With all this, many expected great things of the 2005 Jets…

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