Article: Dinger Impressed By Mangini And Wants To Stay
Posted 19 January 2006 - 07:33 PM
January 19, 2006
NEW YORK (AP) -- New Jets coach Eric Mangini decided Thursday to keep offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger on staff, shortly after parting ways with defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson.
The move to retain Heimerdinger came as a mild surprise, since the two have no history together. But having Heimerdinger around should make things easier on offense, since he has been with the team for only one season.
Many thought Heimerdinger would be let go, and were linking him to jobs in Denver and Houston. But now he gets another shot to help an offense that struggled mightily in 2005 without Chad Pennington or Curtis Martin.
It also makes sense to keep Heimerdinger so he can have more time with work with Pennington, who is coming off his second major shoulder injury.
Heimerdinger said his meeting with Mangini went well and he was impressed with his energy. He said it didn't make a difference that he would be working for someone so much younger. Mangini turned 35 Thursday.
"His experience is good, age doesn't make a difference," Heimerdinger said.
Henderson, receivers coach Pep Hamilton and tight ends coach John Zernhelt weren't retained. It was widely expected that Henderson would be let go.
When reached on his cell phone, Henderson declined comment. There was speculation that linebackers coach Bob Sutton was elevated to defensive coordinator to replace Henderson, but nothing was made official Thursday.
Henderson joined the Jets for the 2004 season, overseeing a vast improvement in the defense as the Jets made the playoffs. In 2005, the defense played well in spots, but could not carry an anemic offense. Injuries also plagued the team as the Jets finished 4-12.
Hired by previous coach Herman Edwards, who left earlier this month to become Kansas City's coach, Henderson guided a unit that ranked second against the pass, mainly because opponents could run so well against New York. The Jets were ranked 29th at stopping the run.
Hamilton joined the coaching staff in 2003, when he was hired as offensive quality control coach. After that season he was elevated to offensive assistant coach before being promoted to oversee the wide receivers in 2005.
Zernhelt joined the Jets last February. He's a former head coach at The Citadel.
The fate of special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff was still up in the air. Heimerdinger, Henderson and Westhoff interviewed for the job that went to Mangini.
Posted 19 January 2006 - 07:46 PM
Posted 20 January 2006 - 07:14 AM
Mike stays in first sign of Bradway-Mangini rift
By RICH CIMINI
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Mike Heimerdinger, who is passed over for head coaching job finds out yesterday he won't be fired, and boy is he furious.
It took only three days for Eric Mangini to experience his first crisis as the Jets' coach - and it reeks on many different levels.
In a surprising move, Mangini informed offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger yesterday that he will be retained in the same capacity. Just one problem: Heimerdinger, a holdover from Herm Edwards' staff and one of three in-house candidates bypassed for the head coach position, wants out.
Eleven days after "trading" Edwards to the Chiefs, the Jets are faced with another untenable coaching situation. It could have significant ramifications. If GM Terry Bradway is strong-arming Mangini - one league source said Mangini didn't want Heimerdinger - it undercuts the rookie coach's authority.
Heimerdinger, hired one year ago today, still has two years remaining on his contract at $1 million and $1.2 million. The Jets, who would be responsible for a portion of that if they fire him and he gets another job, apparently believe he should honor the contract. They also may not want to start over with a new system.
The team made no official announcement on Heimerdinger, who apparently doesn't feel the same loyalty because the coach who hired him - Edwards - is gone. He can't be thrilled by the prospect of working for the man who landed the job he coveted. Heimerdinger also knows that he probably has a job waiting for him in Denver, where Mike Shanahan - his former college roommate and close friend - will be looking for a coordinator once Gary Kubiak officially is named the Texans' coach.
Heimerdinger was said to be furious, and there was no mistaking his mood in a brief phone conversation with the Daily News.
Asked about his status, Heimerdinger said, "I'm the offensive coordinator of the Jets."
Are you happy about that?
Do you want to coach for the Jets?
Heimerdinger declined further comment. He is stuck because if he quits, he forfeits his salary and his rights remain with the Jets, who could prevent him from coaching elsewhere until 2008. Bradway didn't return calls seeking comment. It's hard to imagine the team keeping a disgruntled coach, so the situation probably is fluid.
Many NFL observers were stunned that Mangini rehired an Edwards holdover for the most important position on his staff. This could be a matter of Bradway, widely criticized for letting Edwards escape his contract, trying to show he's no pushover.
"This makes no sense," one person with knowledge of the situation said. "It's like a hostage (situation)."
Most new coaches bring in their own people, but Mangini named two holdovers as coordinators: Heimerdinger and Bob Sutton, a linebackers coach who was promoted to defensive coordinator. Special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff also could be retained; his status will be known today.
Mangini has no prior working experience with these coaches, which should raise eyebrows. Because of his inexperience, the 35-year-old Mangini has a small network of coaching cronies, limiting his ability to assemble a staff.
Some close to the situation believe Mangini is being forced to retain the coaches because owner Woody Johnson doesn't want to eat their contracts. In Heimerdinger's case, the Jets could be trying to force him to quit or agree to a small settlement package - which would be a classless way to save a few bucks.
If the Jets really do want to retain Heimerdinger, it makes Mangini look like a puppet. In his introductory news conference, Mangini said he has the final say on coaching hires, but he quickly added, "We're going to make a collective decision."
League sources said Mangini wanted to hire Browns offensive line coach Jeff Davidson as his coordinator, although it's possible the Browns blocked that move. Even so, it's hard to imagine that Mangini took the job without knowing that Heimerdinger was a possibility.
Which raises a question: If Bradway thinks so highly of Heimerdinger, why didn't the Jets make him the head coach?
"I would hope this has an amiable conclusion," said Heimerdinger's agent, Bob Lamonte, who hopes to speak with Bradway today. "I have 30 years' experience in this business and every head coach should have the ability to pick his coordinators."