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Herm, Jets in holding pattern


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Herm, Jets in holding pattern

Edwards 'in limbo' as discussions continue to hasten coach's separation from the club



January 5, 2006, 11:02 PM EST

On one of the most chaotic days in Jets history, Herman Edwards gathered his staff Thursday for a 9:15 a.m. meeting to discuss his future and the team's.

What happened for the next 12-plus hours will be the stuff of history in terms of messy divorces between an NFL team and its coach. The extent to which the Jets' football team has been effectively paralyzed by Edwards' situation was etched on the coach's face and emanating from his eyes as he looked out at his coaches and told them, essentially, "I'm in limbo."

Barring unforeseen complications, two people familiar with the situation said Thursday night that the deal allowing Edwards to coach the Chiefs in exchange for draft picks is expected to be resolved Friday.

But the situation was so fluid, so agonizing for the people who work for Edwards, that only two plausible conclusions could be drawn: 1) Edwards is gone, and 2) even Edwards himself didn't know how that was going to .happen.

"He's really confused," defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson told Newsday Thursday night. "He's hurting. He doesn't know what's going on.

"I look in his eyes and I know one thing: He's hurting. I don't know if the word is disappointment, uneasiness, unknowing, all those things. I know he wants to get it resolved.

"He's one of the best guys I've ever coached for and one of the best people I've ever met."

After various reports Thursday ranging from the draft-pick compensation deal with the Chiefs being anywhere from dead to done, to Edwards resigning or being forced out, one thing was clear after this epic day of wrangling, waiting and uncertainty: Edwards will not coach the Jets again.

"He said he was in limbo and he didn't know what was happening," another assistant coach said Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity. Asked if he thought there was a chance Edwards would still be his boss after the coaches' two-week vacation, which begins Friday, the coach said, "I'd be kind of shocked, but stranger things have happened at the Jets organization, so we'll see."

It's always been true that stranger things have happened with this team -- until now. Once this Edwards fiasco is resolved, he will stand alone atop the mountain of the absurd.

Despite a nationally televised report that Edwards informed his staff that he was leaving and that he cleaned out his desk, three coaches who were in the meeting Thursday said that wasn't the case.

"He just told us he had nothing to tell us," one of the coaches said. " ... I sat around there all day to find out what was going on and finally decided I was .coming home."

Responding to speculation that Edwards had resigned, his agent, Gary O'Hagan of IMG, told The Associated Press, "Herm would never quit."

There were strong indications Thursday night that compensation talks had accelerated, primarily because the Jets are under severe pressure to move on with a new coach -- and quickly. The Jets need to move forward or risk having to fire Edwards and forfeit draft-pick compensation.

One of the people familiar with the situation said the crux of the dispute was how Edwards' contract would be resolved. Since the Jets and Edwards obviously have decided to part ways, deciding how much they will pay on the .remaining two years of his contract is crucial.

While the Jets tried to finalize the deal, the coaching carousel did not stop spinning. One top candidate, Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress, is on the verge of becoming the Vikings' coach.

With the Jets in a holding pattern, Chiefs president Carl Peterson went about his business and interviewed other candidates. After spending two days talking with former Giants coach Jim Fassel in Baltimore, Peterson was believed to be on the East Coast meeting with another candidate Thursday. It's believed that Peterson also has reached out to Butch Davis and Gary .Kubiak.

Peterson's tactics put the Jets in the impossible position of waiting for the Chiefs to agree to draft-pick compensation while being unable to interview Edwards' potential replacements because the coach was still under contract.

It is not true that the Jets have reached out to former Saints coach Jim Haslett; one person familiar with their strategy said they haven't contacted any prospects.

The whole thing was so bizarre that tight end Chris Baker compared it to Nick Saban's leaving Michigan State for LSU when Baker played for the Spartans.

"This is exactly how it was, exactly the same thing," Baker said in a telephone interview. "There were rumors going around and he was like, 'Oh, no, I'm not going anywhere. I want to be your guys' coach.' And the next day, he was on a plane going to LSU."

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