It's almost certain that at least 2 of these three men will not be back in 2004 (JI Photo)
Almost the minute that the final whistles blew sounding the conclusion of the 2003 NFL season the Jets began to work on restructuring their team, specifically with the firing of Ted Cottrell. Now this move should come as no shock to anybody since Cottrell’s bell had tolled several weeks ago. (Look at that, two auditory metaphors in one paragraph!) The Question that has now formed is exactly who will Herman Edwards and Terry Bradway find to replace the Jets recently departed and highly vilified defensive coordinator. And what else will the winds of change bring about during this upcoming off-season?
A quick side note: Am I the only one who gets the David Bowie song “Changes” stuck in their head whenever I see that word written down? I was half-tempted to title this piece “Ch-ch-changes” but opted against it. I will probably be singing the song, albeit incorrectly, while I write the rest of this article. I digress.
I am obligated to say that I feel somewhat sympathetic towards Cottrell and the position he is now in. I don’t think that he is a poor coach; on the contrary I still believe he is an excellent coach. I hold in contention that Cottrell was given the arduous task of conforming to a defensive philosophy that he may not have agreed with and was provided with a squad that was incapable of executing it. He was almost destined to fail the minute he arrived.
It’s amazing how quickly a coach’s stock can rise and fall in today’s NFL. We should all remember that Cottrell was one of the finalists for the 49ers head coaching position a year ago and now he will probably have to start all over again. He will have to hope that that he can rebuild his reputation as one of the premier coordinators in the league. We will have to see what happens. I am confident that he will find a job somewhere since we may have a record setting number of vacant coaching positions. I think that the current life span of the tenure of a head coach in the NFL is 4.2 months.
As far as the overall defensive personnel is concerned I think everyone is cognizant of exactly where the deficiencies lie on this Jet team. They are slow and old. I also think that it should be unanimously agreed upon that the Jets are soft. This showed throughout the year as the team failed to consistently stop the run.
The Jets budget for players next year is almost as tight as my budget for groceries. They have many holes to fill and areas that are in desperate need of upgrading. The way this team goes about accomplishing their task may not satisfy many Jet fans clamoring for something explosive to occur.
I am guessing that they go out and get themselves one or two veteran defensive linemen who are fairly cheap to either compete for starting jobs or just perform in a complimentary role. There has been a lot of talk about converting John Abraham into a linebacker, which makes sense if the team becomes a little more blitz happy and takes advantage of his uncanny speed. Hopefully this means that either Bryan Thomas is ready to play full-time or they have someone in mind that can replace him at the end position.
Moving Abraham would begin to solve some of the problems with the current linebackers on the Jets, notably Marvin Jones and Mo Lewis. It is quite apparent that both players have reached the end of their respective careers and it is time to part ways with these aged veterans. Now I would like to note that as Jet fans we should all hold both players in high regard and remember both of them fondly. Mo Lewis was actually voted into the Four Decades Team by the fans and has been a leader and great contributor to the Jets for many years. Jones has also performed well on and off the field making a great impact in the New York and Florida communities with his extensive charity work. Hopefully by stating all of that I have negated any intention of bodily harm exacted upon my person in the slim chance that either player has read anything I have written about them in the past.
I would assume that Sam Cowart stays and possibly gets shifted back over to the role he is more suited for and also where he played while in Buffalo. Maybe the change will help him revert back to form. The Jets then would most likely round out the rest of the group with Victor Hobson, Jason Glenn and probably someone from the draft or from free agency. Again though, I advise most Jet fans not to look for a big name player.
That brings us to the secondary, which is also a bit of a mess. Edwards no doubt will give John McGraw another opportunity to start for the team. Then he most likely will reduce Sam Garnes’ role while replacing him as the starting strong safety. There is also speculation that Aaron Beasely will be released and Donnie Abraham will stay on at least one more season.
Obviously though most of these moves are dependent upon the hiring of a new defensive coordinator. It will be interesting to see if Herm will allow the new coach to implement his own defensive philosophy or if he will still insist on the cover-2 defense that worked so well in Tampa yet has not exactly surfaced up here in New York.
My hope is that the Jets are poised to raid the defensive coaching staff of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, because currently the only thing the Jets have in common with the Bucs is that both teams are not in the playoffs. If Herm and company are incapable of prying away at least two coaches from Tampa then whoever does come into town next had better be given the freedom to install his own defensive schemes into the playback and change things around. If not then even with everything that the Jets may undertake over the next few weeks it will still leave them with roughly the same result: Disappointment and losses.