NEW YORK -- 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.
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.
Heimerdinger said his meeting with Mangini went well and he was
impressed with Mangini's energy. He said it didn't make a difference that
he would be working for someone so much younger. Mangini turned 35
"His experience is good, age doesn't make a difference,"
Despite those kind remarks, however, Heimerdinger expressed overall dissatisfaction with his situation in New York during an interview Thursday.
"I'm not upset because this may be a rebuilding situation," he told the Newark Star-Ledger. "I'm upset because I came to work for Herman Edwards and I'm having to stay and work for someone not named Herman Edwards.
"Also, I'm upset because I interviewed for the [head] job and obviously I was third in the pecking order [behind Mangini and Mike Tice]. So, I wasn't good enough for the job and I still have to stay. I'm not happy with the situation."
Heimerdinger's agent, Bob Lamonte, told the Star-Ledger that his client is "grossly unhappy" and hopes there is a way to "work toward an amicable conclusion."
Meanwhile, 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
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.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.