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THE GAMBLER?

By Mark Cannizzaro
JetsInsider.com Head Writer
October 3rd, 2006
One thing for sure is that Jets' Coach Eric Mangini's coaching style is polar opposite of former Coach Herm Edwards. And that's a GOOD thing.
One thing for sure is that Jets' Coach Eric Mangini's coaching style is polar opposite of former Coach Herm Edwards. And that's a GOOD thing.
For the record, right up front, I did not agree with Eric Mangini's decision to go for the touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the two-yard line instead of taking the easy three points and a 17-14 lead in the third quarter against the Colts on Sunday.

I didnít like the call before it was made and, once seeing the result, I didnít like it then. And certainly, seeing the final score burning on the scoreboard lights, a three-point loss, I didn't like it at the end of the game, either.

Mangini's logic was sound in that he needed to score touchdowns instead of field goals to beat the Colts, who have perhaps the most prolific offense in the game.

But this was too early in the game and the Jets needed to come away with some points off of a 16-play drive that ate 8:20 off the clock. And besides, Colts' quarterback Peyton Manning at the time was struggling against the Jetsí defense and hadnít found any rhythm at all.

So Mangini was projecting that Manning would find his mojo and start lighting up the scoreboard. To me, that showed a lack of confidence in his defense.

Going for that fourth down and failing to convert, thus leaving those three points floating in hyperspace, was like a team going for a two-point conversion too early in a game and failing to make it. You somehow knew the game as going to come down to that point.

On Sunday, as soon as the Jets eschewed the short field goal and the lead, the game result became a collision course with those three points and you simply knew it was going to haunt the Jets.

That said, we did not come here to tear apart Mangini in this space.

We are not always going to agree with what any head coach decides on, whether it be a personnel matter or an in-game decision. But I know this about Mangini in the short time he's been here: He makes what he believes are sound decisions for the betterment of the team and he stays convicted to those.

Sure, there were some players who went home Sunday night grumbling to themselves about why Mangini didnít take the three points, wondering what might have been had he done so.

But there isnít a player in the locker room who believes it was a wild, uncalculated gamble.

In fact, most of the players believe in Mangini so strongly that they were all for his decision to go for it.

Part of that comes from the natural change in philosophies from the last coach to this one.

Herman Edwards was never what you'd call a gambler. He generally took the safe, more conventional route. Mangini's way about things is refreshing to those who became bored of the conservative. His way, too, showed confidence in his teamÖcertainly his offense, anyway and that can only help as a bonding force later on.

Every Jets player on the record agreed with Mangini's go-for-it philosophy Sunday.

"There's a gambler's mentality, but I'd say it's more he has confidence in us to get the things done we needed to get done," Jets tight end Chris Baker said. "There were times in the past, we'd want to go for certain things and it was, 'No, no, we're not going for it.' "

Jets' receiver Tim Dwight said Mangini going for it on fourth down Sunday "= gives you confidence as a player. That's important for a coach to give his team confidence.

"To beat the Colts we had to score touchdowns. There was a lot of ballgame left in that game. In order to beat a great team you got to go for things like that.''

Jets' receiver Jerricho Cotchery added, "The guy told us when he came in he's going to do what it takes to win. Players are definitely closer to the coaches because these coaches accept feedback."

Chad Pennington: "That feels good as a player, to have a head coach that believes you'll get the job done for him. I think it will go a long way in the end."

MARK CANNIZZARO FAN CHAT THIS THURSDAY: Be sure to check out a Fan Chat with NY Post/JI writer Mark Cannizzaro next Thursday (10/5) at 8PM in the Jets Insider Chatroom.

Mark will be giving all the latest info on all the happenings at Weeb Ewbank Hall including reaction to the Colts game and news leading up to the Jags game.

MARK CANNIZZARO EVERY SUNDAY MORNING ON 1050 ESPN RADIO: You can listen to Mark Cannizzaro LIVE every Sunday morning from 8 to 10 a.m. on "Tee it Up with Mark Canizzaro'' on 1050 ESPN Radio. Cannizzaro talks football, including a lot of Jets, along with golf, baseball and all other sports.

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