Many Jets fans, angered at the recent failures of the team and by some of its past gaffes, have been critical of Herman Edwards and his style of coaching.
Many believe Edwards is too much of a "players' coach.''
Edwards will never completely change his stripes, because that would be disingenuous, but he has taken on a harder-line approach to this group of players in the wake of the Jets 2-5 record as it enters Sunday's home game against the Chargers.
The players, in particular, have noticed a tougher, no-nonsense Edwards since after they were embarrassed in Atlanta on Monday Night Football, because that is not how Edwards wants his teams to be represented, fumbling the ball away and giving up big runs on defense.
"You have to feel what your team needs at certain times,'' Edwards said, hoping he's found some answers to this woeful season. "It's no different from when we have come into these situations before. It changes. It has to change. You have to make sure they know why it's changing, and they do.
"With all of that, it really doesn't matter unless they take what we have done on the practice field and execute it on the field and play. That's what matters. They have to trust in what we're doing now and go play.''
Edwards' players have surely noticed a change in his attitude of late.
"His mindset and attitude has changed a little bit,'' Vinny Testaverde said. "It's more business-like, workman-like attitude, no-nonsense. I noticed it after the Atlanta game.''
Asked what impact that could have on the players, Testaverde said, "It's always the intent to get players' attention, wake them up, let them know that this is serious. This business is not life or death, but it's serious. It's our livelihood. I think guys have responded well (in practice), but the telling tale is can you win?''
Part of Edwards' change during has been his rare threat of starting jobs if performances aren't up to expectation.
"That has greater impact because he' never said it,'' Testaverde said. "It's a little out of character for him to approach it that way, so when he says it, it really opens your eyes.''
Edwards hopes his approach has opened his players eyes long enough for it to carry over to a strong performance Sunday against the Chargers.
Former Jets' cornerback Ray Mickens said earlier this week that when Edwards' demeanor tightened up a little bit during difficult times it tended to make the players focus more.
"They practiced well the last couple of days and they've had good focus,'' Edwards said. "Now we have to carry it onto the field and we have to believe that. We have to trust in how we're practicing and not go out there and go haywire and start doing things that are uncharacteristic of us when we play. That's been a little bit of our Achilles' heel the last couple of weeks _ turnovers.''
The Jets have turned the ball over 10 times in the last three games.
"That's not very good in the turnover ratio,'' Edwards said. "It's very difficult to win games like that. We've always played with a good balance on offense and not turned the ball over. We've done that too much. Cut that out and you give yourself a better chance to win and we've done that early in football games.''
Edwards said the NFL average is somewhere between 2.7 and 2.8 points allowed after teams turn the ball over.
"It's bitten us,'' Edwards said. "We've give up points when we do that. If you go three points for all those times we've turned it over, that's (more than) 30. That's a lot of points when your team is desperate to score points. You can't do that.
"We generally don't function like that. We're doing some other things too. We've got to stop the run and all those other things. If you can just do that you can fix that. That's fixable. A player has to fix it when he plays. A coach can't do that. Can't let it happen anymore. It's in the mindset, don't let it happen anymore.''
Asked about his change in demeanor, Edwards said, "My personality won't change. I'm still going to be upbeat and be who I am. I'm not going to change who I am. It's really what I believe you have to do to win. You have to make things very, very clear, very direct with guys and there's no gray area.
"This is what it is. I'm doing it. This is the way we're doing it. This is what I want the coaches to do. This is what I want you to do. That's it. There's not even a question. Usually you have some conversation and there's no conversation. This is the way you do it. That's how we've got to function right now and I think sometimes you have to do that.”
"I've had that role before. That was my role in Tampa. That was my role under Tony (Dungy). I know how to deal with that. Sometimes you have to do that. Players are like your children. Sometimes you have to tell your kids and then you realize they're not getting this and you have to help them more.“
"You have to do certain things to change the atmosphere,' Edwards went on. "I'm not a holler guy or jumping up and down and going crazy, screaming and using bad language. I'm not doing that. I think there's a certain tone you have to have and they know when I get into this tone, they've seen it before. It's not like it's the first time. They've seen it when we're winning. Last year they saw it. Whether it's in the locker room, before a game, at halftime, or week of practice. They know when I get to that point. Every once in a while you have to do that.
"It comes to a point where I have to step in sometimes and do what I have to do. That's part of being the head coach. I'm comfortable doing that.''
Edwards takes this stuff seriously. He spend the better part of the bye weekend pouring over every tape in an effort to try to fix the mistakes.
"I believe when you are a coach that you are a teacher,'' he said. "How do you go about teaching your players? I think every coach has a different way of doing that. There's a difference between hearing and listening. We have the ability as a human to listen. You can drive your car, have your cell phone, and have the radio on. You're listening, you're not hearing. Cut your cell phone off, cut the radio off, pay attention going down the road. Now that's different. You're listening, hear what I'm saying.”
"It's very, very important you hear what I'm saying. We're at a point now where if you don't get this there is no turning back. This is it. We're backed up against this wall and it's not a good feeling. They understand that, they get focused, they can go. Does that mean it's a guaranteed win? No. What it means is that we're going down this dark and you have to follow me. That's what I believe.''