Anyone who ever watched a Mike Westhoff press conference when he was the special teams coordinator of the Jets knows he was never afraid to speak his mind.
Westhoff does just that in his new book, “Figure It Out: My Thirty-Two Year Journey While Revolutionizing Pro Football’s Special Teams,” which is co-written by AP sportswriter Barry Wilner.
The book is an interesting read for NFL fans, and in particular Jets fans. Westhoff coached in 657 NFL games (by his count), including the preseason, regular season and postseason. Westhoff was one of the most influential special teams coaches ever in the NFL and he details how he approached coaching in the book, including diagrams of some of his plays.
The 74-year-old Westhoff coached with the Jets from 2001-12, working for three different head coaches and going to the playoffs six times with the team. He had nine players that led the NFL in either punt or kickoff returns.
Westhoff had some interesting takes on prominent Jets figures during that time. Here are a few:
Westhoff praises Edwards, but did confirm some of Edwards’ weak spots.
“I found out quickly that Herman was good to work with. I enjoyed his company and trusted him. In many ways, though, he was not well prepared to be an NFL head coach. He had played in the NFL and worked his way up the ladder as a scout and assistant coach. He never was a coordinator, nor was he strongly versed in game management. Clock management, situations and coach’s challenges were things he was relatively unprepared for. We practiced all of them, but we were not near as efficient as needed.”
Westhoff said in hindsight he should have helped him more. He also said Edwards fired assistant coaches too quickly and that was a problem.
Westhoff is not a Bradway fan.
“Terry Bradway, our general manager, was not my favorite; I thought in many ways he was barely mediocre,” Westhoff writes.
Mangini was hired in 2006. Westhoff praised Mangini’s attention to detal and how he managed game situations (“off the charts”), but said Mangini’s practices were too long and he was not good at speaking to players.
“At first I couldn’t have been more unimpressed,” Westhoff said. “I thought that he was a complete know-it-all pain in the ass. But as time progressed, I saw a good coach. He had a good vision of how to build an NFL team.”
Westhoff said he believes Mangini would be a good addition to a team’s staff today.
Ryan replaced Mangini in 2009 and brought life back to the organization. Westhoff gives a peak behind the curtain, though, at how things were with Ryan behind the scenes.
“Rex kept things stirred up with the media. I would read something he said and just shake my head and laugh,” he wrote. “Never did any of his craziness show itself around the team. We had an organized, disciplined program that showed no signs of Rex’s sometimes crazy media antics.”
Sanchez was the quarterback for the Jets’ two trips to the AFC Championship game under Ryan. Westhoff has been critical of Sanchez in the past. In the book, he said he was shocked when general manager Mike Tannenbaum gave Sanchez a new contract in 2012. Tannenbaum told Westhoff the contract is what a championship-game quarterback must be paid.
“I told him that I would agree with that if he had anything to do with us getting into that game,” Westhoff writes. “Mark is a great kid, but he was only a manageable quarterback at best.”
Westhoff was in the middle of the great Tebow experiment of 2012. Westhoff used him as a personal protector on the punt team and ran a few fake punts with Tebow. Westhoff said the offensive coaches had no use for him.
“Another good kid, but not an NFL quarterback. It took him all day to deliver the ball,” Westhoff writes. “The whole thing was a disgrace and a mess. I was the only one who kept my end of the bargain.”