Head Coach On The Brink?

By Mark Cannizzaro
Jets Head Writer
November 15th, 2005
If you're an angry Jets fan who wants Herman Edwards out, don't hold your breath. Edwards isn't going anywhere for awhile, and that's the way it should be.

Woody Johnson wants him here, and that's the smartest thing Johnson has brought to the table as the team's owner.

Multiple team sources who are familiar with Johnson's thinking say that, as frustrating as this season of shattered promise has been, Johnson understands the adverse circumstances that have sabotaged the Jets' season and is not blaming Edwards for them.

It is, after all, difficult to blame Edwards for losing his top two quarterbacks in a span of seven plays in one game, along with having a total of 10 players on the injured reserve list as well as some 10 others injured in some capacity.

As for Edwards, who has two remaining years on his contract after this season, he's on record in saying he wants to stay here as long as Johnson wants him here.

He wants to finish the job he started, and he made several points to illustrate those feelings. His message, rightfully so, was about being so upset about the current plight of this season to the point where you forget about the body of work he's brought here.

"You look at the big picture,'' Edwards said. "You don't look at the small, one season so far. You can't lose sight of that. You look at what you've tried to build here in five years. You've built a program.

"I always used to say this when we won and when we went to the playoffs: It's not easy going to the playoffs,'' Edwards went on. "It's very, very difficult to get in the playoffs. The history tells you that. We've been fortunate to get there. That's what you look at. You look at your program and you look at it from the beginning to right now.

"You look at some of the things you wish you had done better, things you've done pretty good. That's what you focus on the most, that it's not one season; it's never one season. It's what is your program is about. And it's been a pretty stable program for the most part.

"We haven't always done everything right, but we've always tried to improve ourselves. Sometimes it goes your way, sometimes it doesn't. It happens to be one of those years that it's tough for us. But I think the foundation you built helps you. We've been successful doing it that way. You don't want to all of a sudden destroy it and say it doesn't work, because it works. It's proven it's worked. It's gotten you to some places where this organization hasn't been a lot.''

Entering this year, Edwards, indeed, was the only coach in Jets' history to bring the team to the playoffs in three of four seasons.

"It's just been a difficult year,'' Edwards said of 2005. "I mean, you can't put words to it. It's just the way it is. It's something you deal with. You don't like it very much, but it's part of the National Football League. You've just got to keep working, trying to get yourself out of it, try to win a game, make yourself feel better.''

This what has had Edwards so distressed the last two weeks _ the absence of a win to reward his players for hanging in there. His players have continued to play hard, and that cannot be overlooked when measuring a head coach's value.

Every year, every week, teams quit.

Pete Carroll's 1994 Jets quit on him and that got him fired.

Even Bill Parcells' 1999 Jets wallowed in self pity for a while after Vinny Testaverde was lost for the season.

Edwards' players play hard regardless of how dire the circumstance.

That, in fact, is why he raised the white flag Sunday in Carolina on the Jets' final two offensive series with the Jets trailing 30-3 and having completely imploded offensively in the second half.

As a former player who has a strong handle on the psyche of his team _ something that is undoubtedly Edwards' strong point as a head coach _ Edwards opted to shut everything down so his players didn't have to suffer any more indignity.

He was very emotional about it.

"I know how the team felt,'' Edwards said. "I saw our team on the sidelines. Long time ago, I used to play. I've been in some games like that. That ain't in the coaching book. I know what's best for this football team. It's my decision to make certain decisions and I'm going to make them and I'll live by them, OK?

"That's on me. I used to be a player. I know that feeling. I know that feeling. I can see it on their face. You do what's best for your team. I'm not going to put the quarterback (Brooks Bollinger) in harm's way, go back there, line up in the shotgun, try to throw passes and get him killed. You kidding me? For what? Ridiculous.''

Veteran quarterback Vinny Testaverde thought Edwards' decision was spot on.

"I thought he was being very smart about it,'' Testaverde said. "Just given the fact of how everything was going and considering everything that has happened around here I thought he was being smart about things. You have to understand most of the game it was a close game. We were running the ball great, keeping (the Panthers') front four off balance a little bit.

"When they know you have to pass the ball and they've got their ears pinned back it's coming and it's going to be a different game. Considering the situation I thought Herm was being smart in doing that.

"A head coach has to take his experience and apply it to situations that come up throughout the games. That's what Herm did. Whether people think it's right wrong or indifferent, he used things he experienced as a coach and as a player and that allows him t make those type of decisions.

"He's been through it and has a feel for it. You have to use your instincts and your experience.''


Some Jets-Broncos observations in advance of Sunday's game ...

-The Jets are 0-5 on the road this season. Denver has won all five of its home games this season and is traditionally

- Ty Law leads the Jets with five interceptions this season, the third-highest season total in his career. His career high was nine in 1998. He also has one season with six. Law, though, also leads the team in a dubious category: penalties. He's been flagged seven times for 63 yards.

- There are many things the Jets need to watch out for Sunday in Denver. They still haven't figured out their slow starting problems in the first quarter of games, during which they've been outscored 61-7 by opponents. The Broncos have outscored their opponents 47-20 in the first quarter and 82-33 in the second quarter.

- He might not be on many teams' radar, but Broncos' fullback Kyle Johnson, a Syracuse product, ha scored five touchdowns this season, and he's been highly economical in terms of touchdowns-per-touches ratio. As a runner, Johnson has only four carries for nine yards, but has a rushing touchdown. As a receiver, Johnson has nine catches for 81 yards, but four have gone for touchdowns.

As if the Jets didn't have enough to worry about with the likes of Jake Plummer, who by the way has not thrown an interception in the last six games _ all won by the Broncos.

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