Jets' Mangini keeps Heimerdinger, not Henderson

Updated: January 20, 2006, 1:27 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- New Jets coach Eric Mangini decided Thursday to keep offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger on staff, shortly after parting ways with defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson.

The move to retain Heimerdinger came as a mild surprise, since the two have no history together.

Many thought Heimerdinger would be let go, and were linking him to jobs in Denver and Houston. But now he gets another shot to help an offense that struggled mightily in 2005 without Chad Pennington or Curtis Martin.

Heimerdinger said his meeting with Mangini went well and he was impressed with Mangini's energy. He said it didn't make a difference that he would be working for someone so much younger. Mangini turned 35 Thursday.

"His experience is good, age doesn't make a difference," Heimerdinger said.

Despite those kind remarks, however, Heimerdinger expressed overall dissatisfaction with his situation in New York during an interview Thursday.

"I'm not upset because this may be a rebuilding situation," he told the Newark Star-Ledger. "I'm upset because I came to work for Herman Edwards and I'm having to stay and work for someone not named Herman Edwards.

"Also, I'm upset because I interviewed for the [head] job and obviously I was third in the pecking order [behind Mangini and Mike Tice]. So, I wasn't good enough for the job and I still have to stay. I'm not happy with the situation."

Heimerdinger's agent, Bob Lamonte, told the Star-Ledger that his client is "grossly unhappy" and hopes there is a way to "work toward an amicable conclusion."

Meanwhile, Henderson, receivers coach Pep Hamilton and tight ends coach John Zernhelt weren't retained. It was widely expected that Henderson would be let go.

When reached on his cell phone, Henderson declined comment. There was speculation that linebackers coach Bob Sutton was elevated to defensive coordinator to replace Henderson, but nothing was made official Thursday.

Henderson joined the Jets for the 2004 season, overseeing a vast improvement in the defense as the Jets made the playoffs. In 2005, the defense played well in spots, but could not carry an anemic offense. Injuries also plagued the team as the Jets finished 4-12.

Hired by previous coach Herman Edwards, who left earlier this month to become Kansas City's coach, Henderson guided a unit that ranked second against the pass, mainly because opponents could run so well against New York. The Jets were ranked 29th at stopping the run.

Hamilton joined the coaching staff in 2003, when he was hired as offensive quality control coach. After that season he was elevated to offensive assistant coach before being promoted to oversee the wide receivers in 2005.

Zernhelt joined the Jets last February. He's a former head coach at The Citadel.

The fate of special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff was still up in the air. Heimerdinger, Henderson and Westhoff interviewed for the job that went to Mangini.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.