Thursday, January 05, 2006

Gimme Gimme Gimme Draft Picks

It’s a football kinda day, and I’m in a football kinda mood. It may be because the BCS finished up with two games that were played among equals. But it’s mostly because the New York Jets are making headlines.

(Note: I’d do a schtick on the Rose Bowl, but if you didn’t see it, there’s no way to describe just how awesome that game was. Almost the complete antithesis of last year’s National Championship.)

ESPN is reporting (among others) that the Chiefs are in discussions with the Jets regarding compensation for current Jets Coach Herman Edwards.

This has been a story in the making since early in the season, when Herm was looking down after his team started off pitifully and the annual Dick Vermeil retirement discussion commenced. A few sources, including my personal favorite Pro Football Talk, were even reporting a meeting between Edwards and Chiefs GM Carl Peterson a few weeks back, when the Chiefs were in town to face the Giants and the Jets were lagging behind before catching a plane to Miami.

Honestly, I like Herm. He seems like a good guy with good intentions, and has the mental toughness to handle an NFL team. However, if offered draft picks to pry him away, I’d jump on it 100 out of 100 times. I realize that a coach isn’t exactly an expendable commodity in today’s NFL (see: Black Monday), but I also realize that the Jets have about 50 holes to plug and could use all the draft help they can get – especially in a draft heavy in offensive linemen.

Unfortunately, ESPN’s Len “Iguado” Pasquarelli is reporting that a first-rounder won’t be part of any pick package sent to the Jets. That made me think about it a bit longer, but if the compensation is similar to what the Chiefs gave up to acquire Vermeil from the Rams – a second and third rounder – then I still say do it. Acquiring the additional draft picks may allow the Jets to slide back into the first round for a second dip, possible to pick Memphis HB DeAngelo Williams or Minnesota HB Laurence Maroney.

The biggest problem with this scenario as I see it is Herm’s replacement. There is a glut of coaches seeking employment, and it would be easy to grab one of them based on their coaching experience. But my feeling is that the Jets must resist the temptation of the Mariuccis and the Hasletts. Remember, these canned coaches don’t inspire much optimism. There is only one coach in NFL history who was canned and then proceeded to win a Super Bowl: Bill Belichick.

Then who should be Herm’s successor? I submit to you one name: Donnie Henderson. He’s got a similar demeanor to Edwards, in that he’s a motivational kinda guy who won’t take crap from his players. Some may question his ability to control a full team by citing the scrum between the Jets and the Jints back in August. But really, Donnie was just trying to get his guys fired up to play some football, get their emotional juices flowing. He knows that there’s more to the game than raw talent, and he’s trying methods to harness that intangible power known as emotion.

The only snag I see in promoting Henderson is the hole he would leave at defensive coordinator. Defense is the Jets most valuable commodity, and to insert an incapable coordinator there could be detrimental to 2006. I’m not really familiar with the defensive position coaches out there, so I can’t really comment on the coaching pool, but GM Terry Bradway snagged Henderson for the vacancy left by Ted “Overstayed My Welcome” Cottrell, so I have faith that he can pull a similar move this time around.

Another selling point for Henderson is that even if he’s not fully ready to coach in 2006, it shouldn’t matter all that much. I really don’t expect the Jets to march into the playoffs next season, so maybe handing Henderson the reins in a season with dwindled expectations will help him ease into the job, gain experience, and be ready for a retooled team in 2007. I know teams shouldn’t be thinking like this; winning NOW should always be high on the priority list. But sometimes you need to take a step back, assess your current standing, and eat a season or two. With the salary cap, it’s difficult if not impossible to field a winning team every year. So why not step back, change a few inefficient parts, break in a coach, and prepare to storm back into the playoffs in 2007?

This makes more sense when you consider the Jets salary situation. They have $120 million committed to 2006, but that includes certain cap casualties such as CB Ty Law. Using 2006 as a retooling year would also allow the Jets to reduce that number significantly heading into the 2007 off-season.

But if the Jets are to retool for 2007, this year’s NFL draft will be integral. With the No. 4 pick, the Jets should undoubtedly draft Ohio State LB A.J. Hawk. After that, it’s a matter of what the team can get for Herm and John Abraham, who certainly won’t be wearing green in 2006. A second rounder should be adequate compensation, and if they get a two and three for Herm, the Jets should be in prime position to slide into the end of the first for D. Williams AND still have a second rounder available for a guy like LSU OT Andrew Whitworth.

A few other names thrown my way that I like, based mostly on suggestions from my buddy Scott: Antonio Cromartie, the 6’3 CB from Florida State, and Leonard Pope, the 6’7 TE from Georgia.

Sorry to see you go, Herm, but I’m quite happy that we’re being more than adequately compensated.