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Old 01-01-2006, 09:36 AM  
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Article on Herm from NY Daily News (long)

Sheds a little light on how the NY locals feel. And maybe even the Jets players a little.

Over & out?

Herm's future uncertain as season comes to end
PLAYBOOK: BILLS at JETS, at Giants Stadium, 1 p.m.


Herm Edwards

Finally, the Jets' season can go in the books today - the history book and "Ripley's Believe It or Not."
Their most disappointing year in recent memory began with a punch (James Reed slugging Jonathan Vilma in the face on opening day) and ends with a punch line, a joke of a finale between the Jets and Bills at Giants Stadium.

Perhaps fittingly, a season of bizarre developments (like losing two quarterbacks in the same game) is culminating with an unusual story line - speculation on whether Herm Edwards wants to remain with the Jets.

Ordinarily, a coach with a 3-12 record is answering questions about the possibility of getting fired. But, in what might be the perfect storm - or, some league insiders suspect, a carefully orchestrated campaign for a contract extension - Edwards has managed to put himself in the power seat.

Edwards has refuted the rumors that he's interested in replacing outgoing Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil, but some believe he's using the Chiefs' situation as leverage against the Jets.

"It's all about the money," said one person who has known Edwards for years.

If Edwards and his new agent, Gary O'Hagan of the IMG conglomerate, decide to pursue the power play in the coming days, it could get messy. It's not farfetched to say that Edwards could be coaching his final game today.

Does Edwards deserve an extension? After finishing 6-10 in 2003, he received a two-year extension through 2007, paying him about $2 million annually - which ranks among the bottom-third of head-coaching salaries. There is no escape clause in his contract, according to an NFL source, but he can get out if given permission by the Jets.

Edwards is the only coach in team history with three playoff appearances, but his record has dipped to 38-41. Joe Walton, run out of town with chants of "Joe Must Go!" ringing in his ears, was 41-38 in his first five years, with two playoff berths.

Edwards' cause received a boost from Vermeil, who said Edwards should receive Coach-of-the-Year consideration for the way he has handled an injury-plagued season. Vermeil complimenting Edwards is akin to a father praising his son; they're very close. But Vermeil's words created a buzz, reviving the Edwards-to-Kansas City rumors. Edwards should send his old coach a bottle of his favorite Chardonnay as a thank you.

"You just stop and think about the injuries he's had, and to line up each week with guys off the street and to bring back a quarterback that's retired ... it's a tremendous tribute to Herman and his staff," Vermeil said.

Not everyone feels the same way. An official from another team, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he's "tired of hearing" Edwards bemoan his injury situation.

"Nothing but excuses," the official said. "Please tell me how their defense was impacted by injuries. They had their MVP, (Jonathan) Vilma. They had John Abraham. And Shaun Ellis and Dewayne Robertson didn't get hurt until a couple of weeks ago. They had all their best players."

But the Jets did lose Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler to season-ending injuries. Result: If they don't score 10 points today, the Jets will finish with their lowest 16-game total.

Edwards has run out of scapegoats - Paul Hackett and Ted Cottrell are long gone - so now he might be willing to put his own neck on the line in an effort to receive more security. Owner Woody Johnson is fond of the coach, but some believe the organization could be growing weary of Edwards.

"I just don't think he has the control he used to have," said former Jet Ray Mickens, who speaks with current players on a regular basis. "Some of the team rules got skewed over the years."

It's going to be a tumultuous offseason. Today, at least the Reggie Bush sweepstakes should generate some interest in what amounts to a glorified preseason game. The Jets' best chance of landing the No. 1 pick includes a loss to the Bills, a Texans win over the 49ers and a Saints' upset of the Bucs.

It should make for a surreal atmosphere, with fans rooting for a loss. The players don't care about Bush; they want to ring in the New Year with a win.

"I hope our guys aren't hung over," Pete Kendall cracked.

The hangover from 2005 is just getting started.
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