Saturday, January 07, 2006

Lost Amid A Sea Of Green
By Ben Valentine

There’s a lot of speculation and rumor going around the Jets’ coaching quagmire these last few days. I don’t pretend to have some great inside source feeding me the truth or juicy rumors. Honestly, I would have written this a few days earlier, but I was hoping some facts would emerge from the fog. So far, that hasn’t been the case. We’re stuck with a bunch of he said, she said. That leaves it hard to form an opinion on who’s right, who’s wrong and what could have been done differently.

We hear Herman Edwards was upset about his annual salary. We hear Woody Johnson/ Terry Bradway didn’t want to listen to those complaints anymore. We also hear that the guys in Kansas City also heard this, so they managed to get Herm without surrendering anything more than a fourth round pick. We hear the Jets are bringing in their coordinators for interviews, but according to Rotoworld, aren’t interested in actually hiring them. So what’s fact and what’s fiction?

Here is a fact. Herman Edwards was one of the lowest paid NFL coaches in the game. In fact, the only coaches who made less last season were Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville and Mike Tice in Minnesota. Some coaches who made more: Jim Haslett, Steve Mariucci, Mike Sherman, Norv Turner, Mike Mularkey. Heck Greg Williams who two years ago this time was canned in Buffalo and is now working as a defensive coordinator in Washington, is making double of what Herm was getting paid.

Bottom line; if I were a coach working in the country’s largest media market who had gotten his team to the postseason three out of the five years I’d coached and got paid that little, I’d demand a raise too.

Which leads me to believe the problem was not Terry Bradway. Herm was Bradway’s guy and I don’t see a reason why he’d be so quick to jettison his coach because of issues of money. No, when it comes to money, it usually can be traced back to the owner. So right now, until something else comes out to say otherwise, I’m placing the blame for this on Woody Johnson. It’s his checkbook and he decided he didn’t want to get it out for a coach who deserved at least a modest raise. I don’t want to hear how nice $1.5 million a season would be to the regular guy. The comparison can only be made to other coaches, not to the average Joe. The average NFL coach was making more than Herm, so he had a right to want more, even coming off a 4- 12 year.

Regardless of who is at fault, this completes a long fall from the verge of greatness just some four months ago. Now the Jets have no coach, no quarterback, an aging running back and a wealth of questions with no sure answers. The best coach out there on this market is the one they just let walk, the best QB out there now has a separated shoulder that will put him out till training camp and the best running back will not be around when the Jets pick in April’s draft.

Which leads me to my next question; who in their right mind would actually want this job? An up and coming coordinator or a big time college guy will have their pick of jobs. You think they’re going want to take this mess on? No way, unless you’re going to pay them top dollar. Do the Jets really want to pay Kirk Ferenz or Charlie Weis, guys who have no real track record as NFL coaches, upwards of five or six million a season after refusing to pay their own successful guy more than $1.5 million? If they do, the team really is out of their mind.

The answers would be either one of the coordinators or a retread. Again, no one is sure if the Jets have any interest in hiring either Mike Heimerdinger or Donnie Henderson. Personally, I’d rather see Henderson than Heimerdinger because I get the sense, like Herm, the players want to play for Henderson. But I’d rather either of them rather than a retread. Let’s find out what someone else can do, rather than bringing in a guy who has proven he can’t get it done. We already saw how that worked out this season at the quarterback position.

But seriously, would it surprise any Jets fan to see someone like Jim Haslett on the sidelines next year, with Woody Johnson talking about how he overcame adversity to lead the Saints to an incredible 3-13 record? If that does end up happening, Jets fans might went to settle in. It’s going to be a long two or three years.

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