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Dan Leberfeld

If Herm stays, maybe loyalty should take a back seat

Nov 21, 2005

One week ago, Herman Edwards decided to let the clock run down over the last seven minutes by running the football in the team's 30-3 loss in Carolina.

He took a lot of criticism for this, and snapped at Daily News reporter Rich Cimini, who questioned the strategy last Monday.

"We turned the ball over five times in a row," said a testy Edwards. "I wasn't going to put that QB in harm's way any longer. I'll let the QB leave the game with some dignity. I won't ask our defense to go back out there if we turn this ball over again. So that's what I'm thinking. We got seven games left, okay? You want to say that's a bad decision on my part, then that's fine, write it. Go right ahead. Knock yourself out, partner. I'm not going to put the QB in harm's way, go back there, line up in the shotgun, try to throw passes and get him killed. Kidding me? For what? Ridiculous."

Well one week later, Edwards, facing almost the same exact scenario in Denver, contradicts that philosophy and continues to throw in the fourth quarter, down big, with turnover and protection issues. The result -- quarterback Vinny Testaverde, in for the concussed Brooks Bollinger, is forced from the game with an ankle injury late.

So Herm, why the about-face in strategy one week later and six days after snapping at Cimini for asking you about it?

"You hate to be shut out," said Edwards, whose team lost 27-0 to the Broncos. "We wanted to put some points on the board, and I needed to give Vinny a look, too."

Give Vinny a look? Maybe a dirty look. The immobile Testaverde had no business playing against Denver's blitz-crazy defense, and he probably knew this himself. On his second play under center, seeing a potential blitzkrieg, he pulled from center too quickly and fumbled the ball.

He followed this with interceptions on the next two possessions and, two possessions later, another fumble. Four turnovers on his first five possessions.

For Edwards not to use athletic reserve quarterback Kliff Kingsbury until the last two plays of the game, after Testaverde was hurt, was mind-boggling.

So why didn't Edwards go to Kingsbury earlier?

"I wanted to score a touchdown," said Edwards.

What an insult to Kingsbury. The same Kingsbury who threw for 95 touchdowns at Texas Tech. The same Kingsbury who set 39 school records and 13 Big 12 Records. The same Kingsbury who was the third quarterback in NCAA history to throw for over 10,000 yards in his college career. And the same Kingsbury who won the Sammy Baugh Award in 2002 as the nation's best college quarterback.

Herm, that's the Kingsbury that you left on the bench in favor of 42-year-old Testaverde.

Not to make Kingsbury into Peyton Manning, but give the kid a chance.

Granted, Edwards hasn't been dealt the best hand this year with 10 players on injured reserve, but his decision-making along the way hasn't helped matters.

"I like Herm Monday to Saturday, but I don't like him on Sunday," said a Jets fan named Jimmy at the Charlotte Airport the day after the loss to Carolina.

And that is why a lot of Jet fans wouldn't mind seeing a coaching change after this season. While most people in the media make Herman into a victim, and some call for a contract extension, most fans see him as the problem.

So when the Edwards-to-Kansas City rumors cropped up last week, a lot of fans were all for it.

I'm not calling for Edwards to be fired. He's done a serviceable job as Jets coach for the most part, even with his shortcomings.

But if he wants to leave, don't stand in his way.

And the Jets have a terrific head-coaching candidate on their staff, a guy who is just the tough leader they need -- Mike Heimerdinger.

Forget about the poor performance of the Jets offense this year. It's not Dinger's fault. He's got a great resume, and has

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