Is Sunday’s game about Mangini versus Belichick or Jets versus Patriots? The media at Jets camp today was buzzing as the New York Jets prepared for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots. The main reason being that, this is the first time Jets coach Eric Mangini will take on his friend and former boss, Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Neither coach though is making a big deal of the match-up other than stating that it’s a regular season game between two divisional teams.
Mangini and Belichick provided almost word for word, identical answers when asked about playing each other for the first time. Both coaches respect one another and are still very good friends, but this is about business and winning football games. They both even joked saying that it would be, “a funny comparison” of the two of them playing football against one another. They both had nice things to say about each other, but then came the issue that is splitting the two apart.
Yesterday, the Patriots filed a grievance with the NFL regarding the Jets talking with Deion Branch about a possible trade for the wide receiver. The reason for the grievance was that allegedly the Jets told Branch and his agent what they were willing to offer for him. Although, this seemed to help the Patriots get a first round pick for Branch. Remember, Terrell Owens was only traded for a second round pick two years ago.
Mangini, being his colorful self, said that it was a “legal issue and that’s how we’ll handle it.” He also said that it was “just business.” Belichick stated how he and the team wanted Deion to remain with in New England but “in the end it just didn’t work out.”
Mangini has worked with Belichick since 1995 when Belichick was then the head coach for Cleveland. Over those 10 years, Mangini served as an assistant, defensive backs coach, and defensive coordinator for Belichick. Mangini played an integral part during the Patriots three Super Bowl titles in four years, from 2001-2004.
As the Jets begin and continue to prepare for New England, special teams and the run game has to be a major issue on Mangini’s mind. Chad Pennington can’t throw for 300 yards every game. Somebody has to come out and make a name for themself in the running back position. For a couple of weeks now, everyone thought that person was Kevan Barlow and he knows he has to come out big on Sunday. Barlow stated that, “we need to get the running game going and that there was no confidence or swagger after the win.” That’s a good thing, especially since the run game produced only 91 yards combined against Tennessee.
Pennington is happy to be healthy and back in prime form. He stated during his press conference that he feels a lot better about his playing status now then during the couple of weeks before he went in for his second rotator cuff surgery last fall. Back then, Pennington was in a state of limbo as he was unsure about his future in professional football. He is ready to play New England and realizes that with any opponent, “what you see is not always what you get.”
The two coaches know enough about each other that a few days of preparation of a different game plan would not do any good for one another. Both coaches will have their teams ready to go and in the end the best team will win.
-As mentioned, Pennington earned AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors after going 24-33 for 319 yards and throwing for two touchdown passes against the Titans.
- Pennington also mentioned during his press conference that he hopes WR Jerricho Cotchery can develop into a number two receiver behind Lavernaues Coles.
-Despite a vote of confidence after the game by Mangini, it looks like K Mike Nugent is not as secure as he thought. The NFL network is reporting that the team brought in 3 kickers yesterday for tryouts. Former Bears and Vikings veteran Paul Edinger, former San Francisco 49er Owen Pochman, and former Boise State standout Tyler Jones all kicked for the Jets.
Nugent today commented on his poor Sunday performance and feels that he has to regain his composure quicker after a mess-up during a game. “Maybe I was remembering the first missed extra point,” was Nugent’s explanation for a bad game. He also said that Mangini had told him to not worry about the past, but just focus on today and what’s in front in you.
None kickers brought in were signed and the move may be just a motivating ploy by Mangini but based on the history of his mentors, Bellichick and Bill Parcells, Nugent better get his slice worked out FAST!
-It was also mentioned in the report that the team worked out former Cleveland wide receiver Frisman Jackson, former Cardinals running back James Hodgins and former Packers guard William Whitticker.
-With Pete Kendall being injured, sources say that the team may also take a look at former Dolphins guard, Wade Smith who was released earlier this week.
-Mangini as usual would not elaborate as the severity of Kendall’s strained hamstring or S Kerry Rhodes’ ankle but both declared on Monday that they will work through it and be ready Sunday.
- LB Matt Chatham, who played in New England for six seasons under Belichick said that, “He’s (Belichick) not gonna change for you” referring to getting ready for a game.
- Mangini said that Patriots QB Tom Brady is a “special guy that reads coverages well and has a great presence.”
- Belichick also commented on the opposing quarterback, saying that Pennington “played well last week” and that he has all the respect for him.
-OL Trey Teague (leg): Doubtful
-G Pete Kendall (hamstring): Questionable
-WR Tim Dwight (leg): Questionable
-CB David Barrett (hip): Questionable
-LB Matt Chatham (foot): Probable
-LB Trevor Johnson (neck): Probable
-S Kerry Rhodes (ankle): Probable
-S Derrick Strait (chest): Probable
The team returns to the field tomorrow to continue preparation for the Patriots. Be sure to check back to Jets Insider.com for all the latest news!