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Defensive debut
By Justin Paley
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
September 9th, 2004
The difference between former Jets defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell and new DC Donnie Henderson is like night and day. Cottrell ran a very laid-back defensive system that rarely blitzed. That was a big reason the Jets were 27th in the league last year against the run. Jets Head Coach Herman Edwards had to make one of the toughest decisions of his career when he fired his close friend Cottrell. Edwards and the Jets front office also said goodbye to many slow aging veterans such as CB Aaron Beasley, and LB’s Marvin Jones and Mo Lewis.

The difference between former Jets defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell and new DC Donnie Henderson is like night and day. Cottrell ran a very laid-back defensive system that rarely blitzed. That was a big reason the Jets were 27th in the league last year against the run. Jets Head Coach Herman Edwards had to make one of the toughest decisions of his career when he fired his close friend Cottrell. Edwards and the Jets front office also said goodbye to many slow aging veterans such as CB Aaron Beasley, and LB’s Marvin Jones and Mo Lewis.

After an exhaustive interview process which took almost a month, at the end of January, Edwards decided Henderson was his man. The focus of Henderson’s defense is to attack, be aggressive and blitz often and the new DC will get his first chance to showcase his work for the first time against the Bengals at home in front of a big opening day crowd of Jets fanatics.

Bengals’ Head Coach Marvin Lewis and Henderson’s history go back to 1990. At that time, both applied to be the linebackers coach job at Cal. Henderson was hired but both met up again in the late 90’s as Lewis was defensive coordinator for Baltimore from 1996-2001 and Henderson was defensive backs coach for the Ravens from 1999-2003. Both were key reasons for the Baltimore Raven’s defensive success. And some argue that the Ravens’ defense in 2000 during their Superbowl year was the best in NFL history.

Lewis knows the Jets defense will be tough.

“They’re (the defense) is going to be aggressive, they are going to share his Henderson’s) personality,” Lewis said.

Over the off season, the Jets brought in established defensive players such as LB Eric Barton from the Raiders, CB David Barrett from Arizona, and S Reggie Tongue from Seattle. The team also injected youth by drafting LB Jonathan Vilma, CB Erik Coleman and S Derrick Strait in this year’s draft, all who should be instant contributors in 2004. Add veterans such as DE Shaun Ellis, DE John Abraham, and CB Donnie Abraham and it equals an intimidating defense for any opposing team.

Henderson will not be afraid to send the house and talked about what the purpose of blitzing is.

“When you bring a blitzer, you are bringing him for the run,” the Jets DC said. “You are just bringing him to a point. It could be to a lineman, it could be to a back, it could be a tight end, it could be a wide receiver.”

Henderson experimented with being both in the press box on the field during the game and has decided he will be in the press box once the season starts. Henderson said he prefers being upstairs so he can see the whole field.

The Jets seem to have all the components in place for a successful season and Henderson talked about what he is looking for from the defense on Sunday.

“If we can stop the run and probably not give up too many long passes,” Henderson said.

INJURY REPORT:

-CB Ray Mickens (Knee): OUT (Injured Reserve)
-DT Josh Evans (Back): Questionable
-CB Donnie Abraham (Knee): Questionable
-WR Wayne Chrebet (Quad): Probable
-S Jon McGraw (Groin): Probable
-DE Bryan Thomas (Hamstring): Probable