Five Questions with Ted Cottrell

The Jets' defensive coordinator spoke on the final media day about his defense, the offseason, and the prospect of becoming a head coach.

    Q.  It was a long and winding road with six new starters on defense
and things came together in the second half.  How optimistic are you now
going into the next season probably not as many changes as this year and
this team gaining the chemistry and heading into next year?
    COACH COTTRELL:  Well, we are hoping to continue from where we left
off.  It's always difficult because of the salary cap thing.  We don't know
how many we're going to lose yet.  We're hoping that we won't have as many
changes as we did last year occur to us, so it could be a little bit better
start.  Our start was terrible this past season and we all know that so we
can't afford to have that.  We are hoping that we won't have any of these
changes and we will pick up from where we are and we'll try to keep this
unit together as best we can.  I think that will help us, get off to a
better start next year.

    Q.  Looking back at that start, whatever comes up during the
off-season, if you have to add in a certain number of new players, will you
keep what happened at the start of this season in mind?  Would you think
about doing things differently?
    COACH COTTRELL:  Oh, yeah, we have to.  I think that was a great
learning tool for us; that when you have changes like that, you've got to
make sure that the repetitions that starting unit get, that they are not
shortened, especially during the preseason.  You've got to reach a happy
medium where you give the guys enough  reps where you're still comfortable
and they are playing together.
    We always worry about the injury factor during the preseason, so I
think you've got to reach a point there where you say, okay, a guy has had
enough or if they have not had enough, make sure that we get them and go
from there.  I think that was a mistake that we had made this year.  We were
so worried about injuries, and you have to be with the salary cap the way it
is.  See, if the guys are out there and if a key guys  get hurt, well, why
are they out there playing?  It's just a preseason game.  Then you look
like, oh  -- you look bad the other way.  You should have done this; you
should have not had the guys out there with those amount of reps playing,
with the risk of injury.
    There's something that has to be addressed and you've got to monitor
it closely, because I think we have to get off to a better start.  I know
from a defensive standpoint, we can't stand to do that, what we did.  How
many teams can do that, start off 1-4,2 -5 and then come back, not only make
the playoffs but you win your division.  That doesn't occur too often.

    Q.  What's on your wish list for the off-season?
    COACH COTTRELL: Right now I can't really answer that because we're
evaluating our personnel right now.  We're going to take a couple of days
and do that.  I've always found out  -- because you can't  -- you've got to
really sit back and look at this thing because if you just go on your last
game, if you're not in the Super Bowl, you've got a loss there.  So that may
skew your judgment a little bit there.
    So you have to get way from it a little bit and then get back and
really look at it from an objective standpoint and start evaluating the
players and then make a decision.
    Probably I can answer that a little bit better for you in another
week or two.
    The main thing, I just wish we could have been still playing.  But
get off to a better start next year.  I think that's going to be a big thing
for us.
    I was talking with Sam Cowart and he was saying that he really
started becoming comfortable with the system after that bye week.  He said
he was still hesitant throughout the first part of the year.  It goes to
show you, players are not really flying around, they are going to be a step
late.  We had those six new faces and that's probably the reason we was
missing tackles and stuff like that.

    Q.  Was that really the function of having all those new guys, it
took so long for them to gel, or is that something you can address in
training camp?
    COACH COTTRELL:  Yeah, we can, but such a long season, you've got to
reach a point where they are getting the reps during the practice and then
you've got to watch them in the game to make sure the units are staying
together and they get enough reps where you look at it and say, yeah, they
are starting to click; they are at the point we want them to be and we are
happy with that point.
    As I said earlier, what you've got to be careful is that you don't
keep them out there too long and then when a key guy, one or two get hurt,
you're in trouble.  You're in serious trouble, because now you can't bring
anybody in and you're stuck with what you've got there.  That could really
be devastating to you.
    It's kind of a touchy situation that you've got to think, like I
said before, you've got to watch it closely during the preseason.

    Q.  If a head coaching opportunity came along during the off-season,
how difficult would it be to leave this organization and Herman?
    COACH COTTRELL:  Well, it would be difficult, because you put a lot
of time and effort into it.
    But if one comes along, I would really like it.  I would say, "Herm,
it was good, it was great.  I'll see ya. "  (Laughter) I don't know if
that's going to happen.  I would love the opportunity.

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