Jets expected to hire Ravens' Henderson as defensive coordinator

Secondary coach likely to be announced tomorrow

Pro Football

January 25, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

The New York Jets are expected to announce the hiring of Donnie Henderson as defensive coordinator tomorrow, a league source confirmed.

Henderson, a secondary coach who has spent the past five years on the Ravens' defensive staff, would get a three-year deal and inherit a Jets defense that finished 22nd overall this season. It would be his first opportunity as an NFL coordinator.

The Ravens would look at two to three candidates, among them assistant secondary coach Dennis Thurman, to replace Henderson, who was hesitant to call the hiring a done deal. The team is anticipating naming a secondary coach by the middle of the week.

"It is a great opportunity," said Henderson, 46, who is believed to have received an offer from the Jets late Thursday night. "I've prepared myself for it. I'm looking forward to it if it happens. If they are preparing themselves Monday to make an announcement, I sure hope it is me."

Henderson apparently has beaten out former New York Giants defensive coordinator Johnnie Lynn for the job. Henderson's arrival would end an exhaustive, monthlong search by Jets coach Herman Edwards, who fired defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell at the end of the season.

Seven of the Jets' potential candidates agreed to deals with other teams at some point during the process. The Jets could have waited until after the Super Bowl to potentially interview New England Patriots secondary coach Eric Mangini, but Edwards said Friday that he was "interviewed-out."

Henderson first interviewed for the job 17 days ago, a meeting both he and Edwards said went well. Henderson laid out his plans for revamping the Jets' defense - which called for a switch to a more attacking style - and those ideas impressed Edwards.

The Ravens finished fourth against the pass last season and two of their eight Pro Bowl players, cornerback Chris McAlister and safety Ed Reed, are from Henderson's secondary.

"If given the opportunity, it's not easy to leave the guys that you've seen grow up and help you to establish some of the things that you want to establish as a coach," he said. "It's always hard when you have to do that."

Henderson joined the Ravens in 1999 as the assistant defensive backs coach. He took over the entire secondary when Steve Shafer retired after the 2001 season. In 2002, the Ravens led the AFC with 25 interceptions.

Before joining the Ravens, Henderson spent 16 seasons as a defensive coach in college.

"I take my hat off to the Modells and Steve Bisciotti and Coach [Brian] Billick because they are the ones who gave me the opportunity," Henderson said. "And I hope it all works out for everybody."

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