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Just Say No To T.O.

By Mark Cannizzaro
JetsInsider.com Head Writer
November 11th, 2005
The last thing the Jets need is this cancer in their lockerroom.
The last thing the Jets need is this cancer in their lockerroom.
Tuck this one away in the "We've already got enough troubles on our own'' category in your file cabinets.

That's right. This is about Terrell Owens. And this is a message to all tempted Jets fans.

We know why you're tempted; you have every right to be with an offense that's as anemic as an undermanned pee-wee squad in a Pop Warner league, where scoring points is as angst-riddled as sitting in the waiting room at the dentist's office awaiting a root canal.

We know you crave a big-play superstar on an offense that hasn't had one in what seems like forever (sorry Keyshawn, possession receivers don't count as big-play superstars).

We know you haven't had an offensive skill player start in the Pro Bowl since what seems like the Reagan administration.

We know you want offensive liberation, the ability to out-duel Peyton Manning or Tom Brady in a shootout, the mere charge out of seeing more than 30 points on the scoreboard next to the word J-E-T-S.

We understand all of these things, but implore you to understand that Terrell Owens and his Sharpie, his cheerleader end zone dances and all the other diva acts he brings with him is not the answer for the Jets.

The Jets are, in fact, not the answer for Owens, either.

After all, why would Owens, who eventually is going to have his choice on where to play, want to come to Jets? Who's throwing him the damn ball?

Brooks Bollinger going to throw him 22 touchdown passes?

Philip Rivers?

Chad Pennington with his twice-surgically-repaired right shoulder?

The point here is this: Owens wants the ball and he wants touchdown passes. That's how he expresses himself. He craves the end zone so he can then perform, craves the attention that comes with scoring.

The Jets don't have anyone to throw him the ball, so why is he coming here on his own volition anyway when he can go somewhere and join up with a proven quarterback and an already decent offense?

That said and gotten out of the way, we bring up the most important point of all: Why would you want that daily headache and all of the sophomoric teenage-girl drama and theater that comes with it with Owens?

Don't the Jets have enough problems?

I'll answer that: Yes they do. And receiver isn't one of their most pressing issues _ not by a longshot.

Terrell Owens will blow up in anyone's face who has the audacity to sign him.

The Eagles have become the victim in all of this Owens fallout, because of the inexcusable way in which Owens conducted himself, but the Eagles should, too, be chastised for their failed try at changing this troubled player.

This guy isn't going to change his stripes at his next stop. He tried to publicly humiliate 49ers' quarterback Jeff Garcia while he was in San Francisco, along with all of the other imbecilic antics that came with Owens being Owens.

Then he went to Philadelphia and continually ripped into Eagles' quarterback Donovan McNabb, who's not only the franchise in Philadelphia but one of the classiest stars in the league.

The high road McNabb took while all the while being lambasted by Owens only underscored how much of an idiot Owens is.

So sure, bring him to the Jets and watch him tear apart another locker room like the acidic disease that he is. That's all the Jets need is someone to divide and conquer their locker room. That, at the moment, is about all the 2-6 Jets have is their unity.

Herman Edwards is, as advertised, a coach who can handle the malcontents and misfits and troubled youths. It's a strength of his.

But he hasn't done it with the likes of Owens.

Edwards and GM Terry Bradway need to focus their future attention on first finding a quarterback that can come in and compete with Pennington for the starting job.

Pennington is going to be given every chance to win his job back, but he might not be ready to compete at full speed in time for the 2006 season, and the Jets are going to make sure this time that he's at full strength before bringing him back.

That means they have to have someone in place _ most likely a veteran like Drew Brees or Rivers if one shakes free form San Diego or Atlanta's Matt Schaub if he could be wrested away from the Falcons (unlikely) _ who can start in the event Pennington isn't ready or right.

The Jets, too, need to draft or acquire a running back for their semi-near future, because Curtis Martin isn't going to last forever.

Their offensive line is being held together by duct tape this year, a clear sign that upgrades are in order there.

Signing a huge-ticket item like Owens at receiver _ even if he was a good guy, quality-character type _ isn't nearly as high on the Jets' priority list as the above-mentioned things.

And besides, Owens isn't a good-guy, quality-character type, which makes him a buyer-beware nightmare.

The Jets have had enough nightmares this season already to last a few years. They don't need to manufacture more trouble. And that's all Owens would be for the Jets. Trouble.

"There will be a team that takes a chance on him,'' Vinny Testaverde said.

Just don't let it be the Jets.

****

We don't know yet if it'll produce any results, but Jets' defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson should be commended for a great coaching move this past Monday when he eschewed the film session on the loss to the Chargers in his weekly defensive meeting and opened the session up to a forum to discuss issues with the defense.

Henderson, put chairs in a circle and encouraged anyone and all to speak out if they wanted to.

Henderson did this as an effort as much to hear what his players thought, but to analyze what he can do better.

By all accounts, it was a highly-positive and much-needed meeting.

The crux of what came out of the meeting was players asking for Henderson to go back to the swashbuckling aggressive play calling style he brought with him last season.

Henderson, while not having gone passive, realized that he has, indeed, gone away from dialing up some of his aggressive blitzes for fear that the Jets were going to get burned for big plays. He based that on seeing too many players out of position on assignments and not enough guys swarming to the ball.

As an example, Henderson called a "cover zero'' in Atlanta, which is an all-out blitz, and Falcons' running back Warrick Dunn broke loose for a 65-yard run.

Henderson thought to himself, "If that's going to happen when I call that defense I'm not going to call it again.

He conceded to tweaking his calls away from the aggressive side for fear that those things would happen.

During what Henderson called the "pow wow'' session, the players urged him to stay aggressive and promised not to let him down.

He agreed.

It takes a coach secure in his own skin to do what Henderson did in conducting that meeting. Too many coaches everywhere have a "my-way-or-the-highway'' mentality and their players own no stock in the program.

"You have to give him credit for that,'' Jets' linebacker Mark Brown said. "Most people might not let their pride allow them to do that. But he took a step back and was thinking maybe he was doing something wrong.

"It showed that he really wants to get it corrected and is not going to be bull-headed or stubborn about it,'' Brown went on. "In the end, he is the coordinator, but he wanted to get feedback to see what we thought and what we could do to get this thing turned around.''

Among the most vocal voices in the room amongst the players were linebacker Jonathan Vilma, defensive ends John Abraham and Shaun Ellis and cornerback David Barrett.

Said Vilma: "We got our opinions aired out. (Henderson) opened it up to see if we can get this thing fixed. He always lets us speak, but this time he actually set it up where everyone was in a big circle and if you wanted to speak you spoke and if not, forever hold your peace.

"We want to get after it. Donnie wants us to get after it. So let it eat. Let it go. If doesn't work it doesn't work, but most of time it's going to work.''

Barrett: "Defensively, we've strayed away from our game plans. We want to get back to what we used to be, how we used play defense last year. Let's get after them and get things going.''

Linebacker Victor Hobson: "We want to get after people. We want (Henderson) to be comfortable enough for us to call it and put us in position to make those plays.''

Henderson sounded open to his players' wishes _ as long as they do a better job of staying in position.

"They want me to be the same aggressive guy I was when I came here,'' Henderson said. "We haven't played great defense to this point. I've found myself tweaking our base packages because I'm uncomfortable sometimes with how we get things done. The trust factor you must have with your defense and each guy being where they're supposed to be is not there.''

Henderson's players urged him to count them in his circle of trust and to the aggressive calls fly.

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