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The Jester's Quart: Good Riddance To Bad Coaches


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The Jester's Quart: Good Riddance To Bad Coaches

By Greg Wyshynski

Friday, January 06, 2006

As of this writing, the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs were still working out the details on compensation for head coach Herman Edwards, who is expected to end months of obvious speculation and half-hearted non-denials by replacing Dick Vermeil, who retired after a good cry.

I imagine the compensation will be a few mid-round draft picks, either in one season or split between two. Whatever they settle on, it's never going to be as fair and equitable as the package I've created:

The Chiefs, upon hiring Edwards as head coach, must hire PBS's Jim Lehrer to interview Bill Parcells over the course of several days. He'll have him evaluate and grade the entire Jets roster. He'll have him create a draft board, and rank the free agents the Jets could bring in under the cap. Then Lehrer will present this information to Jets owner Woody Johnson, most likely in an hour-long NOVA special format. Afterwards, viewers can purchase a copy of the program, and receive a lovely tote bag as well.

This way, the Jets can enter the 2006 season with a Bill Parcells team. You know, just like the ones Herm Edwards rode the coattails of for three playoff appearances and a pair of postseason victories.

Edwards is a great "people person" coach, and was able to keep these teams playing hard through adversity, save for this season's complete disgrace. But he's a horrible game manager, bad to the point were I firmly believe the Jets might have been a Super Bowl team had it not been for his ineptitude. Edwards is the worst kind of NFL coach: someone who's committed to not losing, rather than winning. To call him conservative would be an insult to Bill Bennett. You can play small ball if you're Parcells, and you have a defense that can confidently handle the pressures of constantly maintaining a slim margin of victory. But Herm never had L.T., Carl Banks, Willie McGinest or Ty Law...well, at least the Ty Law who didn't look completely overmatched on most plays. And he sure as hell never had Bill Belichick organizing his defense. Playing the kind of football Edwards played was never going to work on a game-by-game basis, and especially in the postseason.

So going to Kansas City makes sense for Edwards, from a coaching perspective. It's the safe choice, a comfort zone. Why take on a challenge like rebuilding a team you helped demolish when you can immediately upgrade at quarterback, wide receiver, running back and tight end; enter into a mutual admiration society with management that could bring you the contract your warped mind thinks you deserve; and trade the New York media for the Midwest media? It's really no different than opting for a field goal instead of going for a touchdown - the only Herm Edwards decision is a cosseted decision.

Loyalty? What, to a team that gave him a head coaching break? To a team that already renegotiated his contract once before its expiration, but refused to do so again after a 4-12 season? Loyalty schmoyalty, I guess.

(An aside: are the Jets exempt from the Rooney Rule this off-season having had an African-American head coach for the last five years, or can they still be considered hatemongering racists if they don't give Art Shell his five minutes?)

Perhaps the only Listerine for the mouth funk this season left behind is to send Herm packing and then dump general manager Terry Bradway. Edwards is gonzo, but it appears Bradway will remain, which is just balls-out insane. He's drafted exactly one Pro Bowl player, and that player will be the starting wide receiver for the Washington Redskins this weekend in an NFC wild card game. Give Bradway credit for taking linebacker Jonathan Vilma in 2004, and you can't kill him for Dewayne Robertson at D-line in 2003, because there really wasn't anything else worth taking for the Jets. But there's no question that his free agent and trade moves have been an utter disgrace (Doug Jolley!) and that he drafted a kicker in the second round of the draft last season. A KICKER.

But Herm and Bradway have gotten a pass during their tenures. Many Jets fans, me included, were blinded by the fact that this pathetic moribund franchise was suddenly a perennial playoff contender on their watch. But clearly, as the 2005 season makes its finals spirals around the bowl, the Jets were winning despite these clowns. This season may have been lost when quarterback Chad Pennington's porcelain shoulder was injured (again) and a myriad of other manpower losses followed. But there's always been a part of me that wonders how much of that was bad luck, and how much of that was players shutting it down during a mislaid season, getting ready for a healthy and happy 2006. Perhaps some of them got the idea from their coach's mindset.

So the Jets need a coach (and a QB, a RB, another WR, several OLs, an NT, a CB...but they're money at punter, and that PK they drafted better fracking work out or so help me...). But they're not the only team that needs a coach. Kansas City appears to have filled its vacancy with Edwards. If I ruled the NFL, the following jobs would go to:

New Orleans: Pete Carroll. Because that might be the only way to keep Matt Leinart from pulling a John Elway (or an Eli Manning) when the Saints draft him.

Oakland: Mike Martz. No, he doesn't have the temperament to be the Raiders' coach. After the death of Bill Martin, only three people on Earth actually do: Jon Gruden, Esa Tikkanen, and Rowdy Roddy Piper. But Martz is an offensive genius, and the Raiders have the same kinds of pieces he had in St. Louis, including a mediocre quarterback. He won't have "the greatest show on turf" anymore; but he'll have a wide receiver who loves grass, and that has to count for something.

Houston: Tom DeLay. The guy knows what it takes to win in the Lone Star State, which is something the Texans obviously don't. Keep in mind, however, that he might need to take a leave of absence for about 5-10 years at some point.

Green Bay: If Brett Favre stays, hire John Madden. That way these too can consummate their long-lasting love affair with a professional relationship. It'll be like "Brokeback Mountain," except Jake Gyllenhaal will look like Frank Caliendo.

If Favre goes, I'd hire Earl Campbell, who'd automatically become the healthiest running back in the Packers' organization.

Minnesota: Word is that the Vikings are going to hire Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress, who did a great job not calling the plays in Philly. I think they're completely missing the most obvious choice: Joe Francis. Sure, his football experience might be contained to putting on a PPV halftime show, but are you telling me that the founder of "Girls Gone Wild" wouldn't be a perfect fit for the Captains of the Sex Boat?

Detroit: Does it matter? With Matt Millen and Joey Heatherton...er, Harrington, the only way the Lions are going to look good is you compare their fortunes with those of the American automotive industry.

St. Louis: They could hire a more defensive-minded coach, like the Bears' Ron Rivera. Or they can just wait for Vermeil to unretire...again.

New York Jets: As soon as word spread that Edwards was all but gone, WFAN in NY was lit up by the usual fan fantasy candidates. Some of them were interesting (Jim Fassel with the Jets...hmmmm), while others were hilarious (Jimmy Johnson, who hates the cold so much I'm pretty sure he doesn't take ice in his drinks).

Whoever takes the job will have one season in which to make a last grasp at postseason glory. Curtis Martin will be back with a vengeance, and the defense is two players away from really being something special. If the Porcelain Princess can stay healthy under center, the Jets have the pieces for a final run before Curtis becomes a backup and the team needs some retooling.

But the bottom line for the Jets has never been the coach; it's the guy building the team. Could anyone have been successful with Blair Thomas or Browning Nagle or any of the other disasters in Jets' history? So if Bradway doesn't get his act together, the team's cooked.

Take another shot, or hit the reset button? That's the question the Jets must answer.

That's the question Herman Edwards didn't want to answer.

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