You Play To Win The Game? Memo to Coach Edwards: Practice what you preach!

By Kevin Newell
Jets Head Writer
September 8th, 2003
Time to open it up for Vinny, Herm
Time to open it up for Vinny, Herm
I know I was sitting in section 114, Row 18, Seat 4 Thursday night at FedEx Field, but to be honest, it felt like I was time warped back to the second through fourth games of last season.

The ineptitude, predictability and overall malaise of the Jets offense against the Washington Redskins was reminiscent of Gang Green’s output, or lack thereof, vs. New England, Miami, and Jacksonville a year ago. During the Jets 2002 tailspin coach Herm Edwards got plenty of face time for his memorable, “You play to win the game” speech. Based on the Jets’ 158 total net yards in a 16-13 defeat, Edwards was hypocritical of his beliefs. The team did not play to win the game in the NFL opener. They played not to lose.

Edwards and Hackett, more so, took the air out of the offense and became more conservative than Pat Buchanan and William F. Buckley at Rush Limbaugh’s birthday party.

To paraphrase a popular hamburger chain commercial from the 1980’s: Where’s the guts? What’s really disheartening is that Edwards and Hackett went on a fourth-and-1 in the first quarter to set up the Jets only touchdown of the game. How do you go from riverboat gambler to eunuch in a span of three quarters?

A majority of the play calling was absurd to a fault. Particularly on that ill-fated final drive when the green and white failed to make a crucial first down on successive running plays. Whether it was a lack of execution by the players or poor judgment on the coaching staff’s part, the bottom line is it should have been Doug Brien splitting the uprights not John Hall.

Vince Lombardi adhered to his three yards and a cloud of dust coaching methodology because it worked. Edwards and Hackett continue to lower the depths with their half-yard and a joke approach. You’d think they would learn by now.

From my seat the Jets’ offensive line was pass protecting with near flawless execution. Why then didn’t Edwards and Hackett reach into their miniscule bag of tricks and call for a pass play more than the team-long one of 17 yards? While Champ Bailey and Fred Smoot are fine cornerbacks, they’re not exactly Mike Haynes and Lester Hayes. As for the Skins’safeties? Be serious.

Chuck it deep a few times to keep them honest and then feed Curtis Martin and Lamont Jordan a few times to set up the pass. That’s Football 101. What we witnessed was a travesty. I fully understand that Edwards and Hackett have forgotten more about football than I’ll ever know. However, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t Edwards talk up the Jets’ new desire to throw deep this season? Granted, that was designed with Chad Pennington – not the strongest armed quarterback in the league – at the controls. Testaverde has twice the arm of Pennington. Yet Edwards and Hackett turned Vinny into Venus de Milo in front of 86,000 fans in attendance and a national TV audience.

Here’s what bothers me the most. I’m sure there are several deep pass patterns logged in Hackett’s playbook. You mean to tell me that he couldn’t call a few and play to Testaverde’s strength? What’s worse: a rusty Vinny attempting a 40-yarder to Curtis Conway or Santana Moss or seeing Martin and Jordan spin their wheels for no gain? Heck, someone named Ledell Betts outrushed the Jets all by himself.

Let’s be honest. After watching Testaverde and Martin spend the preseason playing checkers on the sideline while the vaunted duo of Brooks Bollinger and Little John Flowers got pivotal PT, we knew the offense would suffer a bit early on. But what transpired in the Maryland suburbs was inexcusable.

This isn’t a rip job on Herm. Anybody that has read my columns on this site knows I love the guy to pieces. I am his No. 1 fan. But sometimes I have to put him over my knee. This is one of them.

Herm, if you’re going to get on your soapbox and call out a guy’s manhood do us all a favor – practice what you preach.

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