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Donnie’s Impact on Coach Herm’s Jets Scheme

Posted by Randy Lange on June 24, 2011 – 11:26 am

When I told Donnie Abraham he has an odd yet impressive distinction in Jets history — he’s still the franchise’s only cornerback ever to return an interception and a fumble for touchdowns in the same season — he sounded pleased.

“Wow, I didn’t know that,” Abraham said from his newest gig as the defensive backs coach for the Arena League’s Tampa Bay Storm. “My three years there I thought was pretty decent. It was the second half of my career being there, being an older player, being a smarter player. I thought I contributed to a team, which I think every player in this league wants to do, He wants to contribute, he wants to be accountable.”

Herm Edwards knew all that, which is why, after his first year as the Jets’ head coach in 2001, he helped transport Abraham from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers up I-95 to the Jets and the Meadowlands as an unrestricted free agent.

“Donnie was kind of a unique deal,” Edwards, who came to the Jets from his stint as the Bucs’ DBs coach and assistant head coach, told me today. “John Lynch was already there when I got there. Donnie was the first guy we drafted our first year. The next year was Ronde Barber, the next year was Brian Kelly. All those guys were built the same way. They were very smart, they wanted to learn the game. All four of those guys could coach. That was a pretty good secondary.”

Edwards broke it up by plugging Abraham into the Jets’ secondary at left corner. He started all 18 games, including playoffs, in ’02. The next year he opened at LCB for two games, then hurt his shoulder and sat out eight games before backing up the rest of the year.

In ’04 he was back to being an 18-game starter, and that’s when he had his happy returns — a 41-yard return of a Rudi Johnson fumble in the season opener against Cincinnati on Sept. 12, then three weeks later a 66-yard pick-six of Jay Fielder at Miami on Oct. 3.

“We needed Donnie,” said Edwards, who the last few years has added his voice and insight to ESPN’s NFL studio team. “We needed a guy who was new but who understood the system, especially the secondary, and could explain it to the guys. It’s one thing when a coach tells the players, but it’s another thing when a player can tell them, ‘This is why we’re doing this.’ “

“I didn’t really know what to expect when I came to the Jets — I was in one place my whole career,” Abraham said. “I did go to New York with a familiar face in Herm Edwards, but when I got there, I thought the organization was great. I was born and raised all my life down south. Then to go up north to the big city and all the media, that was definitely different. But as far as the organization and my three years there, I thought it was pretty decent.”

For more on Abraham’s new coaching career, see my news story here.

Here are the seven players who had at least one interception return and one fumble return for touchdowns in their Jets careers, and the four who had at least one of each in the same season (*fumble-return TD came on special teams):

Player 1st IR TD 1st FR TD Same Yr
LB Larry Grantham 1970 1962 ……..
S Burgess Owens 1974 1974* 1974
LB Greg Buttle 1977 1976 ……..
S Darrol Ray 1980 1980 1980
S Erik McMillan 1988 1989 1989
LB Mo Lewis 1994 2001 ……..
CB Donnie Abraham 2004 2004 2004

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Posted in Randy Lange | 8 Comments »

8 Responses to “Donnie’s Impact on Coach Herm’s Jets Scheme”

  1. By IRA on Jun 24, 2011 | Reply

    Donnie really played well for the Jets. Thats pick in Mia was huge. Not sure they win that game without it. Boy was it hot that day in South Beach. Randy, I remember the Jets getting burnt on a bad call in that game. Just can’t think of the play. That was the famous Mawae cast game that he snapped the ball with his left hand.
    Too bad about Cortland. It makes sense to stay in NJ just wonder what type of effect it will have on the players since Rex liked that get away and team bonding.
    GO JETS!!!!

  2. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Jun 24, 2011 | Reply

    MUCH too bad about Cortland, Ira! Nice going, NFL players and owners, arguing over your own greedy demands while a small New York state community that reaps an enormous financial boost from a few weeks of Jet football loses out on that in the midst of the worst economic times since the Depression. But hey, just keep running those NFL 360 ads or the ones with players teaching kids how to read or whatever to remind us (or maybe yourselves) how much you care. As for Donnie and even Herm, I think they’re both underrated when it comes to their contributions to the Jets. I still love Herm’s, “HELLO, we’re trying to win the game!” and the Jets’ current OC should be hearing more of that kind of talk from the current HC.

  3. By Danny on Jun 24, 2011 | Reply

    This Off-season has just been a disaster so far. I’m so anxious to see how free agency turns out. I really believe we will surprise all the naysayers who believe the Jets will be negatively impacted by the proposed CBA. Remember, who we have at the helm as the decision maker. As Rex would say ” We have the best GM in league, who specializes in cap management.”

  4. By Jimmer on Jun 24, 2011 | Reply

    I remember that fumble return as being the reason we won the game. Don’t rip me, but without it, I remember thinking we would have lost that game. If my memory is correct.
    Ira, the way this offseason has been, going upstate would have been a bad idea.

  5. By Randy Lange on Jun 25, 2011 | Reply

    Jimmer, the Jets were leading, 10-9, but the Dolphins were driving on the first series of the second half. From the Jets 37, Jay Fiedler tried to find FB Rob Konrad out of the backfield but Donnie Abraham jumped all over the pass and took it 66 yards the other way. That was the final score of the game as the Jets won, 17-9, for the third win in their 5-0 start.

  6. By fred on Jun 25, 2011 | Reply

    Because of the lock out I think it will have very little effect on the Jets this team will be ready to bond & Rock & Roll ! Lets Go Jets!!!

  7. By IRA on Jun 26, 2011 | Reply

    I agree that going to Cortland they would have been walking a real small tight rope.That could be a big distraction. I would expect a deal done real soon and the league open for business say 7/10 or so. Then they will have a 5 day period to sign their own players and then a 2 week window of free agency. Then maybe the last 2 weeks of July some sort of OTA’s and then camps open.
    The Ravens have also cancelled their usual camp and will hold it at their facilty and the Giants haven’t ruled out Albany as of yet but have said they are watching the calendar very closely.
    Still want to see how the players get their workout bonus money. Its not their fault they couldn’t work out. The owners have to do the right thing and pay it to them.

  8. By longbranch3 on Jul 3, 2011 | Reply

    The only problem Ira is getting the owners to do the right thing. I’ve been reading the last few post and I certianly agree with all of you. This lock out is beginning to wind down. I believe that it will be around the 15th of this mth that trhe lock out ends. They need the time. It not only affects the players and owners, but also the people that are in the spots bars. This is where they will earn thier money possibilty for the most of the year.

    GO ” JEST!!!!!!!!!

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