Inside Analysis On Cottrell

Former Jets and Bills defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell is the Vikings' top candidate for their opening at defensive coordinator. Find out what one beat reporter for the Jets told VU about Cottrell.

Ted Cottrell fell out of favor with Jets head coach Herm Edwards this season, but according to Dan Leberfeld, the editor of Jets Confidential, none of the Jets' problems should have been pinned on Cottrell.

"Ted Cottrell is a solid defensive coordinator who got a raw deal in New York," Leberfeld told VU. "The Jets' horrendous run defense this season was due to bad personnel, not Cottrell's schemes."

Cottrell, in fact, is one of the hottest defensive minds on the open market this offseason. He was expected to interview with Pittsburgh and San Diego if he doesn't accept an offer by Vikings coach Mike Tice, who has a limited budget with which to work.

Cottrell's defense saw significant improvement in 2002, his second season with the Jets. During the first five games of 2002, the Jets were giving up 32.4 points per game. During the final 11 games, it allowed only 15.8. In 2001, his unit finished tied for second in takeaways.

In 2003, however, the Jets defense suffered. But, according to Leberfeld, it had far more to do with injuries and personnel than coaching.

"The Jets' linebacker corps might have been the slowest in football, and they were terrible in space. Also, they were forced to start a rookie (Dewayne Robertson) at the three-technique tackle spot, one of the most important positions in the defense. This was because Josh Evans was suspended for the first half of the season because he violated the league's substance abuse policy," Leberfeld said.

"Robertson was lost, and this constantly created holes for opposing running backs to exploit. It also hurt the linebackers who weren't protected properly by Robertson. Also, the team was without its best pass rusher, John Abraham, for the second half of the season due to a groin injury.

"When you throw in the fact that the Jets lost two starting defensive backs — safety Jon McGraw and cornerback Donnie Abraham to shoulder injuries for most of the season — you can see Cottrell was dealt a terrible hand. However, he was scapegoated nonetheless."

Cottrell's times with the Jets may have been up and down, but his three seasons as defensive coordinator with the Bills appear to be more consistent. With him as coordinator, his Buffalo defenses finished sixth (1998), first (1999) and third (2000) in overall defense.

"He (would be) a good hire by the Vikings," Leberfeld said. "Players love playing for him because he is a great person. But while he is mild-mannered most of the time, he has given to some excellent fire-and-brimstone speeches in the locker room."

Cottrell's 20 years as an NFL coach would appear to be a huge asset to a young defense.

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