The Jets hope 34 year old Eric Mangini will bring the team to the promised land. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
After graduating Wesleyan University in 1994, Eric Mangini went to Australia where he was an investment banker. Mangini decided he wanted to get into a career in pro football and took a job as a ball boy with the Cleveland Browns at 23 years old. Mangini became an intern in the Browns public relations department before becoming friends with then-Browns head coach Bill Belichick who made Mangini a coaches assistant. After spending the next 10 of 11 seasons as an assistant with Belichick including last year as the New England Patriots defensive coordinator, Mangini was named the 14th head coach in Jets history today. While terms of the deal were not disclosed, it is believed to be a five-year deal worth about $2-2.5 million a year.
“10 years ago I dreamed I would be in this position,” Mangini said at a press conference today at Weeb Ewbank Hall. “I worked really hard to be in this position and I guess this is what happens when you couple hard work with dreams.”
The 34-year old Mangini, who’s wife Julie and mother Nancy were present at the press conference, becomes the youngest head coach in the NFL and the youngest head coach of the four major sports (NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB).
“I thank you for having the vision to make me your head coach,” Mangini said to Jets owner Woody Johnson, General Manager Terry Bradway, President Jay Cross, and Assistant General Manager Mike Tannenbaum.
Bradway said the Jets interviewed eight candidates but talked about what made Mangini stand out. “He wants players smart, tough, and great character,” Bradway said. “Those were qualities we looked for in selecting our new head coach.”
Johnson also was involved with the selection of Mangini. “He’s got a strong pedigree, major contributor to great organization…most important thing demonstrated to us passion for football and teaching. I think he knows something about the culture of football that appealed to us in this building,” Johnson said.
Mangini spoke with enthusiasm about getting the chance to lead the Jets. “This is an outstanding opportunity,” Mangini said. “I’m excited about being the head coach of the New York Jets. We have a great front office, committed owner and all share the same beliefs. We share the same values. This is a team oriented approach.”
Mangini was asked what made the Jets job so attractive. “The commitment by Mr. Johnson, the front office to winning and building an organization for the long term, an organization that people can be proud of build with character, toughness, discipline. Those things are really attractive for any situation,” Mangini said.
Mangini has been a part of five division titles, three conference titles and three Super Bowl championships during his career. Mangini joined the Patriots after spending 1997-99 as the Jets defensive assistant/quality control coach under Bill Parcells.
The main knock on Mangini has been that he is young and was only a coordinator for one year in the NFL. “I’m confident in my experiences,” Mangini said. “I’ve been with two of the greatest football minds in NFL history. I have an extensive foundation to build the Jets into a Super Bowl caliber franchise.”
Mangini said he will take experiences and lessons learned from Belichick and Parcells and apply those to the Jets. He added there was no hesitancy to take a job in the same division as the Patriots.
There have been some reports that Belichick tried to dissuade Mangini from taking the Jets job but Mangini denied that. “Bill Belichick and I are best friends and we had a great conversation last night. He really wants what’s best for me and my family. We’ll be friends for a long time,” Mangini said.
Mangini had a message for Jets fans. “I know how passionate the Jets fans are,” Mangini said. “I’ve been here with them and coached against them. I was a lot happier here with them. I look forward to working with them and working for them.”
After last year’s 4-12 season, Mangini knows he has his work cut out for him and that it make take time to turn the team back into a contender. “I’ve got a longterm commitment to this team, ownership, and fans,” Mangini said. “I want to build a team fans can be proud of. I want players and coaches that are tough, smart, hard working, competitive, and have high character. I want a team first attitude where players are working for the name on the front of their jersey, not the name on the back. I will not sacrifice these beliefs for any short term gains. It’s building a culture, building a team that can achieve long term and consistent success. Understand this is a process.”
The process begins with Mangini assembling his coaching staff. He said he will meet with the current Jets assistants over the next few days.
The offense almost needs a complete overhaul and the Jets most likely will bring in a veteran quarterback to compete with Chad Pennington. “Chad’s a great competitor, hard worker, smart. I respect everything he’s done. I haven’t sat down with the doctors. Until I sit down with Chad, I wouldn’t feel comfortable commenting any further,” Mangini said.
Most likely the defense will remain intact but the big question is if the Jets will franchise DE John Abraham or sign him to a long-term deal.
Mangini talked about his philosophy. “We’ll take advantage of the strength of players, whatever that may be. We’ll attack the weaknesses of opponents and minimize their strengths.”
Check back to Jets Insider.com as Mangini assembles his coaching staff and for all the latest Jets news.