A Conversation with Donnie Henderson

Donnie Henderson was the third candidate Herman Edwards interviewed for the Jets' defensive coordinator job, back on Jan. 8. Four more candidates followed, but while Henderson admitted he was `antsy'' at the wait, Edwards said all the candidates had to measure up to Henderson. <BR><BR>

Rumors that Henderson got the job began to filter out Jan. 24, and it became official two days later. After the announcement, Henderson sat down to talk with Jets Confidential.

Here is the first part of a two part interview.

Q)Did you have a good feeling about your chances when you first interviewed with Herman?

Henderson: You don't know when you go through the process. All you can do is go in there with a philosophy that you try to express and exude energy. That's who I am, I bring a little energy. And then as you talk through the process with the head coach, you start to say, ``How does he like playing Cover-2? Do you mess with Cover-2? Is it 3-4? Is it a 4-3?'' You go through those scenarios, and when you walk away, you say to yourself, just as I did, I said, ``There's a chemistry.''

Q)Despite that, did you have any antsy moments as the interviews continued?

Henderson: It made me dig down deep and be patient. It made me talk to a lot of people. It makes you wonder a little bit, all the emotional things you go through when you're trying to get somewhere. So there was a little antsiness, a little anticipating and a little confusion -- all those emotions come into play. I think you have to let the process run its course. You try not to get caught up in who's saying what and reading all the papers, and just know when you walk out of there, you gave it your best. And are you prepared? I think I'm prepared as anyone.

Q)You've never been a coordinator at any level, but you were named assistant head coach at the University of Houston. Does that cover any coordinator duties on the college level?

Henderson: Being an assistant head coach is doing the duties the head coach can't get to from day to day, so that does give you an opportunity to coordinate within the university structure. You have to be able to communicate with the people in the lunchroom, doctors, administrators, people in study hall. You've got to make sure you're on the same page as the head coach because every day you don't get to talk to the head coach when you have to do these things. So you have to have a philosophy, you've got to be really detailed. You've got to know what the head coach wants.

Q)Is it a valid concern that this is your first coordinating gig?

Henderson: Being a coordinator, no, I haven't had that chance. But I'll tell you what. When you have seven guys on the field and you've got to know exactly what every guy's supposed to do every play, there's a little bit of coordinating going on there.

Q)In your five seasons with the Ravens, they finished in the high top 10 in overall, rushing and passing defense.

Henderson: You know where that comes from? It comes from tempo, from teaching, from a structure, from good players. And it comes from the organization. When you've got a great organization that gives you good players and all you've got to do is put the players in right situations, you've got a chance. I think we have that here.

Q)You're not just saying that because the Jets are your new employer?

Henderson: I think this organization has been good, and you've got some good players here, some great young players here. The question is how do you get them to play. And I think that's going to be the key. As a defensive staff, we've got to be great teachers, prepare well, and we've got to get the guys to study. If they study and buy into it, we'll be fine.

We will have Part Two of this interview Friday in Premium.


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