Herman Edwards spent last season laying the foundation to his program, and the Jets still made the playoffs. This Sunday at Alltel Stadium, Edwards and his 1-2 Jets will attempt to get back on the playoffs track in a one o'clock game against the 1-1 Jaguars.
"I won't rant and rave, believe me, because I'm not that kind of guy. People will just disappear," Edwards told his players at his first mini-camp as Jets coach, in May of 2001.
And disappear they have. Three members of last season's defensive backfield -- Marcus Coleman, Aaron Glenn and Victor Green -- have disappeared. Others have also disappeared.
Edwards is left with those players who are totally committed to their coach's philosophies and rules. Coleman violated Edwards' first rule: "Be on time for meetings."
"They were hesitant to accept things; let's just say that," defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell said. "They'd been in the same system for years. They were just wondering where we wanted to go with it. They probably were worried because they couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel; let's say that. It's like they were a little disappointed we weren't totally stopping people the right way," Cottrell added of the Jets' defensive philosophy, which is similar to what Tampa Bay played when Tony Dungy was its head coach and Edwards was its defensive backs coach.
The Jets play a lot of zone coverages. They play Dungy's infamous "cover two," which means the Jaguars will have faced that scheme in two of their first three games.
Former Jaguars cornerback Aaron Beasley is a natural for Edwards' style of defense. In Jacksonville, Beasley was criticized for not having the speed to play man-to-man. With the Jets, Beasley almost always has help over the top from a safety.
Following the Jaguars' bye week this Sunday, Beasley and the Jets will come to Jacksonville for a Sept. 29 game at Alltel Stadium that will conclude the first month of the season. Where will it leave each team?
"He's a highly motivated guy and he's able to get people to play for him," Jets Senior Personnel Scout Dick Haley said of Edwards. "Herm is upbeat, going 100 miles per hour all of the time. He's real and guys like playing for him. He's a player's coach, but he's tough, too."
If the Jets have a weakness, it's in the secondary, where the bulk of the offseason losses occurred. The other question about the Jets concerns aging quarterback Vinny Testaverde's ability to play to a championship level.
In the Jets' favor is one of the most productive and consistent running backs in NFL history. Curtis Martin has been slowed by an ankle sprain, but he's always rebounded from small hurts in the past. And even if it takes Martin a little longer to heal this injury, the Jets have second-year running back Lamont Jordan ready to go. Martin and Jordan represent one of the best one-two punches in the league.
At wide receiver, dependable Wayne Chrebet has been joined by big-play speedsters Santana Moss and Laveranues Coles. The offensive line is veteran and accomplished. Richie Anderson is one of the game's best fullbacks. Anthony Becht is making a move at tight end.
On defense, Sam Cowart has been added to an outstanding group of veteran linebackers. Shaun Ellis, John Abraham and Bryan Thomas are outstanding speed-rushers. If Josh Evans can stay "clean," the Jets will have acquired a big-time run-stuffer at tackle.
The secondary is the trouble spot, but Edwards was willing to suffer that consequence for the sake of having players who believe in what they're doing.