Today is Coordinators Thursday on newyorkjets.com, but not in the same sense that it was every Thursday during the season. This is the first day the Jets’ three new coordinators will speak publicly about their new gigs. My partner, Eric Allen, interviewed all three this week here at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center and those sitdowns will air this afternoon on Jets Talk Live and then will be archived
Each man — Marty Mornhinweg for the offense, Dennis Thurman for the defense, Ben Kotwica for the special teams — presents a different personality on air and in the building as they continue to work with their staffs while the players are still five weeks away from reporting back to the complex for the offseason strength and conditioning program.
Marty brings a light touch to his teaching, plus a modesty about his résumé that sounds as if it goes all the way back to his own background as a signalcaller.
“I’ll tell you what, I’ve been really fortunate, that’s first. I’ve coached some of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play this game,” he said. “Brett Favre was a great, great player. Of course, Steve Young in San Francisco, a first-ballot Hall of Famer. And then Donovan, that was one reason that Philadelphia at the time was so enticing, because Donovan McNabb was there. What a great quarterback he was. And Michael Vick in 2011 had just an astronomical year.”
Mornhinweg likes to refer mugs of joe when he’s talking about short-lived events. Even though he was with the Eagles for the last decade, he was aware of Favre’s “cup of coffee” with the Jets in ’08. And he described his own time playing for the legendary Mouse Davis in the Arena League as “half a cup of coffee.”
MM’s the only coordinator completely new to Rex Ryan’s staff. DT has been here with Ryan since ’09 and for six seasons coaching alongside Rex on the Ravens. He’s the kind of guy who has that football edge to him, like let’s stop screwing around and do it the right way, yet he also has that bit of playfulness to his persona.
“I’m outgoing, upbeat, love to have fun. But I also know the fun that comes with winning,” Thurman said, adding about his step up from the DBs room to running the entire defense: “I can’t change who I am. It’s just a matter of instead of having 11 or 12 guys, I’m now responsible for probably 30 guys. But it’s no different. Everybody has to do their job, they have to know their job, they have to understand their job, and then they have to go out and perform their job.”
Kotwica’s been with the Jets the longest of the trio, since Eric Mangini brought him out of the Army and on to the specialists under Mike Westhoff. He’s armed with the Westhoff experience plus his own straightforward sense of being able to command a football unit because of his military service as a decorated combat attack helicopter commander and training officer.
“I don’t go too far with the football-is-war approach, but there are parallels and carryovers. Even in the military, you are a coach,” the new Coach K said. “Mike and I are different guys, but first and foremost he was a great mentor to me, not only tactically with X’s and O’s but strategically. And he’s a great friend. I’m very grateful for what he’s taught me.”
It’s no surprise that each coordinator will bring a different approach and style to his unit, different from each other and different from the men they’ve succeeded. But all three will have one very similar guiding principle. They’re all involved in framing a new house on the existing foundation, and they all expressed enthusiasm for the hard work ahead.
“I love challenges,” Mornhinweg said. “This is a great challenge. That’s why I love doing what I do because I get to work with some of the great athletes in the world, really.”
“Leadership is something you either have or you don’t,” said Thurman. “I don’t think you can cultivate it or manufacture it. So we’ll let it play itself out. Yeah, we lost some veteran players, some experience, but some of the guys are going to have to step up and play. And they can be leaders in their own right.”
“Special teams isn’t a solo job. It’s a team effort, and we’re looking forward to it,” Kotwica said. “Things are going to be OK in 2013.”
Enjoy EA’s conversations with the threesome on Jets Talk Live in a few hours.
Tags: Ben Kotwica, Brett Favre, Dennis Thurman, Donovan McNabb, Eric Allen, Marty Mornhinweg, Michael Vick, Mike Westhoff, Mouse Davis, Steve Young
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