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Greetings From Camp Mangini

By Mark Cannizzaro
JetsInsider.com Head Writer
July 31st, 2006
THE ANTI HERM: The days of cushy training camp at Hofstra are over with Jets new coach Eric Mangini running things. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
THE ANTI HERM: The days of cushy training camp at Hofstra are over with Jets new coach Eric Mangini running things. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
My first impressions?

A lot of practice … a lot of practice.

Mangini’s first NFL training camp has been so far marked by several observations, the first being an average of 2 ½ hours per session _ even on two-a-days.

Mangini, too, has proven himself to be no-nonsense. No moves are wasted energy. No mistakes are glazed over.

Mangini means business, and that’s a terrific for a team as young, inexperienced and coming off a poor season as the Jets are.

The one mild argument I have with Mangini’s operation so far is the way he’s handling the quarterback situation.

One of Mangini’s mantras this camp is that every job is wide open; no one’s job is a lock. That includes quarterback. The Jets have for of them _ incumbent, injury-prone starter Chad Pennington, off-season veteran insurance acquisition Patrick Ramsey, rookie second-round draft pick Kellen Clemens and career backup Brooks Bollinger.

Barring a miraculous accelerated advancement by Clemens, whom the team believes has definite starter potential, this quarterback competition is really a two-player battle _ between Pennington and Ramsey.

Though his moxie and toughness and good arm are impressive, everyone knows what Bollinger is _ a solid, dependable backup.

Clemens is a rookie and will likely be swimming in his transition from college to the pros for awhile.

That leaves Pennington and Ramsey.

The problem is Mangini continues with the four-QB rotation, which seems like a waste of first-team reps given to Bollinger and Clemens.

Eventually, Mangini is going to have to pare down the group, thus separating Pennington and Ramsey from Bollinger and Clemens.

As an example, staying with his rotation, Mangini’s entire Saturday practice was, for the most part, run by Bollinger and Clemens and it wasn’t pretty.

Though it was hardly only the quarterbacks’ fault, the practice was sloppy, with a number of penalty flags and a lot of stopping and starting on offense.

That seemed like, to a degree at least, a wasted practice because Pennington and Ramsey hardly had any reps.

It’s difficult to argue against the fact that the most pressing issue for the Jets to resolve in this training camp and preseason figuring out who the starting quarterback will be.

So why delay that at all by giving too many reps to players who are highly unlikely to win the job?

Give Pennington and Ramsey as many reps as it takes to get them ready for the preseason games and figure out who the best player for this team is.

The sooner Mangini and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer decide on a starting quarterback the more stable this team has a chance to be sooner.

INSIDER EXTRA POINTS

To clarify a column I wrote for the New York Post last week upon the opening of training camp, the point was not about being blown off for interviews by players and if that was the way the story was construed, then I didn’t make it clear enough.

Amongst the mixed opinions I received via e-mails, there were a number ranting that I was being a crybaby over players not wanting to talk to reporters.

This isn’t the point I was trying to make.

My issue was with the organization itself and it’s lack of awareness when it comes to bringing about good PR for itself.

If I was remiss anywhere in the column it was not explaining strongly enough that it was clear the players _ including D’Brickashaw Ferguson _ were clearly following orders from Mangini, who told them they “didn’t have to’’ speak to reporters until the following day.

Ferguson didn’t handle himself in a mature way, but he was essentially afraid to talk to reporters because he thought we were off limits.

A simple, “Hey guys, we’ve been told not to speak to reporters until tomorrow,’’ would have sufficed rather than the end-around run into a busy street.

But the column was not meant to bash Ferguson; he just happened to be a prime example of where the club failed in a place where it could have taken advantage of good PR.

Why do the Jets need good PR, you might wonder?

Because they’ve always lacked it in a town where the Giants almost always (save for the Ray Handley years) do it right.

The Jets, quite simply, should have made Ferguson available to reporters since it was the day after he’d signed his first contract.

That would have served two productive purposes for the Jets. It would have ballyhooed the signing of Ferguson and put an exclamation point on how proficient the franchise has been over the years in getting draft picks signed and in camp on time, and it would have deterred reporters from hovering around the cafeteria scrumming for first-day interviews, which the team didn’t want.

Regardless, for those who felt I was trying to make the story about myself and/or the other reporters, I truly wasn’t. I know you Jets fans care about your team and players, but I also believe you find yourselves frustrated when the team looks bad _ on and off the field.

I’ve always been of the belief that the team should stop micromanaging and worry about winning football games.

****

Here are some early predictions regarding the Jets’ roster. (You can hammer me for being wrong later).

-Pennington will be the starting quarterback on opening day.

-Curtis Martin will be the starting running back to start the season.

-Jerricho Cotchery, if he hasn’t already unseated Justin McCareins for the starting WR job opposite Laveranues Coles, will do so at some point in the season.

-Ferguson and Nick Mangold, the first-round draft picks, will start on the OL and grow fairly quickly with the help of veteran guard Pete Kendall between them.

-Jonathan Vilma will excel regardless of which scheme the Jets favor most on defense. Mangini and his defensive coaches are smart enough to know Vilma is their best defensive player and they’ll put him in position to make plays.

-Bryan Thomas will show some improvement, but never be the pass rusher he was thought to be coming out of college.

-You’re going to love Tim Dwight, a tough, versatile playmaker.

-Kimo von Oelhoffen is a man of few words but will be a terrific player for Jets.

-Second-year tight end Joel Dreessen has looked dazzling at times this camp and has a chance to make a name for himself at a position that’s been a black hole seemingly forever.

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