Tough Break? Not With Herm At The Helm
By Kevin Newell
Jets Head Writer
August 27th, 2003
There are a multitude of reasons why I think the Jets will rise above the latest crisis that has beset them. But there’s one person above all else who will make sure of it: Herm Edwards. If Edwards has displayed anything during his previous two seasons in New York it his ability to rally his troops in the face of adversity. Remember his famous, “You play to win the game” speech from last season? How about the scene of Coach going up and down the sideline prior to the game against Green Bay, summoning his players’ will to beat the crap out of the Packers and win the division.

Bringing back teams from the dead has been his motus operandi. He guided the Jets to three of four victories down the stretch in 2001 and helped resuscitate a moribund 2-5 club in 2002. The end result: two successive playoff appearances.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is The Terminator. Perhaps we should refer to Edwards as The Reanimator.

The man just knows how to motivate. This time will be no different.

Will his presence guarantee a playoff appearance? Too early to tell. Is it the end of the world? No way! In Herm I trust.

Edwards began the healing and believing process Monday by telling his players that the team owed it to Vinny Testaverde to play better and rally around him in light of the veteran quarterback’s professionalism last season when he was benched in favor of Chad Pennington.

Nice touch. Good start. Edwards has always been a staunch supporter of Testaverde. One of the key attributes of a coach is the ability to communicate with your players and never abandon them. While it killed him to tell Vinny on the plane ride home from the Jacksonville loss that he was making a quarterback change, he never tossed him aside.

Lest I remind everyone in Jets Nation – including the knucklehead I heard on WFAN saying that the season was over and he was looking forward to having the No. 1 pick in the draft next season – this is in no way, shape or form reminiscent of what happened to Gang Green when Testaverde tore his Achilles on opening day in 1999.

Bill Parcells’ lack of foresight left a Super Bowl-bound team relying on a has-been (Rick Mirer) and a never-was (Ray Lucas) as Vinny’s backups, albeit the latter QB did lift the team with his energy and athleticism to salvage an 8-8 campaign.

This is different. This isn’t a team that has a guy with either no clue or no experience lining up behind Kevin Mawae. It’s a team that lost its starting quarterback two weeks prior to the season opener and is replacing it with a former starting QB. A guy who was the toast of New York a few short years ago. A guy who handles the pressure cooker of the Big Apple like a child handles a bunny rabbit. A guy with 17 years of NFL experience. A guy with a second chance. More importantly, a guy who commands respect and whose teammates and coaches believe in him.

My mother always told me things happen for a reason. More often than not, her wisdom has come to fruition.

I remember sitting in on Edwards’ press conference a couple of weeks ago when he responded to a question about getting Testaverde some playing time during the season so he could eclipse the magical 40,000 career passing yard plateau (he’s just 442 yards shy). It was a throwaway comment at the time. But who knew back then that mop up time would eventually become emergency duty?

It’s almost storybook, really.

While Pennington is more suited to lead the West Coast offense, Testaverde is no slouch. What’s more, his strong arm fits in perfectly with the team’s desire to stretch the field with the vertical passing game. So there’s a give and take.

Anyone who saw Vinny hit Curtis Conway in stride Monday should allay his or her fears.

Yes, the Jets and we have lost Pennington for an extended period of time. Maybe the season. Yes, the shock of seeing Chad’s wrist crunch on the Co-Tenant Stadium FieldTurf has been devastating. But here’s a bit of advice: Remain calm, all is well.

Remember, the Jets still kept their wits about them and wound up winning the Giants game – despite being manhandled in the first half – even though reports of Chad’s injury filtered throughout the team just after half time. A blow like that would make most teams pack it in for the night, especially a preseason game.

Who do you think was responsible for having the team stay together?

We still have Vinny. We still have Mawae. We still have Curtis Martin, Wayne Chrebet, Santana Moss, Lamont Jordan, John Abraham, Mo Lewis, Sam Cowart, and the rest of a veteran playoff-caliber team.

Best of all, we have Herm.