Herman Edwards, who is reportedly on the verge of being named the Jets' head coach, has been lauded as an excellent teacher and communicator
For the second time since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2000 season ended, a member of the team's defensive coaching staff has left to take a higher position with another NFL club.
On Thursday the New York Jets announced the hiring of Herman Edwards as the 13th head coach in franchise history. Edwards had served as the Buccaneers Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Backs Coach under Head Coach Tony Dungy since Dungy's arrival in 1996.
In Edwards' five years with the Buccaneers, Tampa Bay's pass defense ranked in the league's top half every season. In 1996, Edwards' first season with the Bucs, the team's pass defense ranked fourth in the NFL, a quantum leap from its 1995 finish of 26th. Rankings of 10th, second, second and 13th have followed. Tampa Bay has also snared 46 interceptions over the past two seasons and this year sent two of its secondary members, S John Lynch and CB Donnie Abraham, to the Pro Bowl.
During his time in Tampa, Edwards solidified his reputation as a top-notch teacher, communicator and tactician. His departure will be a loss for the Buccaneer family but represents the ultimate opportunity for Edwards.
"Herman Edwards has been successful at every challenge he has ever faced and I don't think this one will be any different," said Buccaneers General Manager Rich McKay. "The Jets are fortunate to be getting such a quality guy and everyone at the Buccaneers certainly wishes him well."
The Bucs have now lost two of their three defensive position coaches since the end of the season. Linebackers Coach Lovie Smith, who also joined the team in 1996, was hired as the St. Louis Rams' new defensive coordinator earlier in January. In addition, the team dismissed Offensive Coordinator Les Steckel and has had a vacancy at the offensive assistant position since Wendell Avery was relieved of his duties in November.
Prior to joining the Buccaneers, Edwards spent six seasons with Kansas City (1990-95), three as a scout in the Chiefs' personnel department and three as the defensive backs coach. In fact, Edwards succeeded Dungy in that position when Dungy left the Chiefs to become the Minnesota Vikings' defensive coordinator. Before joining the Chiefs, Edwards spent three seasons as the defensive backs coach at San Jose State.
Edwards was also a notable player in the NFL, spending nine seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles (1977-85) and finishing his career with the Los Angeles Rams and Atlanta Falcons in 1986. Though he joined the Eagles as an undrafted rookie, Edwards started all 135 games of his Philly tenure at cornerback, finishing with a team-record 38 interceptions, postseason included. His playing career was also marked by one of the most memorable moments in league history, as his 26-yard touchdown return of a Joe Pisarcik fumble against the New York Giants on November 19, 1978 has been famously dubbed the 'Miracle in the Meadowlands'.
Edwards, who previously worked with new Jets General Manager Terry Bradway in Kansas City, fills the post left by Al Groh, who resigned from the Jets on December 30 to take the head position at the University of Virginia.