INSIDER THURSDAY TEAM REPORT
By David Fletcher
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
November 16th, 2006
As the Jets moved further into their preparations for their weekend bout against the NFC-leading Chicago Bears, many questions arose about how Gang Green’s offensive line will try to stop Chicago’s fast and powerful front seven. At the center of the talk – no pun intended – was rookie-C Nick Mangold.
Mangold, the Jets’ rookie phenom out of Ohio State University, was singled out once again by his head coach during a morning press conference. Coach Eric Mangini said that Mangold “constantly has to make good decisions” and praised his ability to continually learn and improve his game.
After thanking his coach for the compliments, Mangold gave his take on the monumental task ahead of him. “It’s going to be a heck of a challenge,” he said. “Every week in the NFL seems like it’s another big challenge, but this week especially.”
Chicago runs a 4-3 defensive scheme, which is something the Jets haven’t faced in quite some time. The team’s past two games have been against 3-4 defenses (Cleveland and New England), and in between was the team’s bye week. While the 4-3 is no easier or tougher to cover, according to Mangold and OL Pete Kendall, it is still requires a lot of adjustments.
“It’s totally different, obviously than what we’ve seen in the past two games,” Kendall explained. “Their intention is to simply get up the field and cause disruption [and] get penetration.”
However, as Kendall explained, the emphasis on penetration can have its benefits for the opposing offense.
“The 4-3 is a little bit more of a risk-reward. The thing with the 4-3 is obviously they’ve proven it can be an explosive defense with the amount of turnovers, takeaways, and points that they’ve scored,” he said, adding that “the other thing is that sometimes you can get some distortion, take advantage of some of the penetration, and you see some runs that sometimes pop.”
While the Jets will do their best to take advantage of whatever holes open up, there surely won’t be many. Kendall, who has recently seen his offense’s rushing game shoot up the NFL ranks, summed it up neatly: “You can’t go out there and expect wild success offensively.”
LB Jonathan Vilma believes that the Bears’ offense will be an equally-difficult challenge. When asked if the Bears-Giants game last Sunday was a good indicator of the Bears offensive strength, Vilma nodded his head and replied, “Exactly, that shows how explosive they are on the offensive side. They have playmakers at every position.”
In terms of actual practice, the team took the field today in shells – lightly-padded, stripped-down uniforms similar to those used in training-camp – for the second day in a row. Mangini explained the move by saying that they had played two very physical games in a row and he wanted to opt for minimal-contact drills. He also noted that the will practice in shells more as the season progresses.
Wind gusts on the practice field made for a very interesting punting drill, with P Ben Graham kicking 60-yarders consistently but placing half of them in the bushes to the side of the field.
One player who looked good in practice, however, was LB Anthony Schlegel. In a “touch-football” variation on the popular full-contact tackling drill, Schlegel made a few strong cuts en route to wrapping up a number of speedy cornerbacks.
-Multiple players on the Jets are from either Ohio State or Michigan University, sparking lots of locker-room taunting and fun side-bets between players leading up to this Saturday’s Michigan-Ohio State match-up.
Jets FB B.J. Askew, who attended Michigan, told reporters that he and Nick Mangold have a bet going where whoever’s school loses, that person has to wear the other’s college jersey around the locker room.
Even more intriguing is a wager that Schlegel reportedly is involved in. Details are sketchy as to who the bet is with or what the exact terms are, but it appears that an Ohio State loss (Schlegel’s college) will mean the grizzly-man’s head will be shaved. When he was drafted, who knew he might see a barber before seeing an NFL field?
-Coach Mangini continued to joke about his nickname, “The Penguin.” Today he told reporters that the nickname was “hilarious” and said it had “a mind of its own” – a reference to how quickly it has caught on.
The coach also described a number of penguin-themed presents he has recently received thanks to the nickname. He started by mentioning that he’d been given a “dancing penguin” from the new movie “Happy Feet.” Additionally, Mangini said that he “got a penguin book a couple weeks ago [and] a penguin figurine,” adding that his son, Jake, “has a stuffed penguin in bed.”
When asked if he minded being compared to a penguin, the Jets’ coach grinned and simply said, “They are an impressive bird.”
-Mangini was much humbler when asked about his impression of a new nickname that has been given to him by some media outlets: Mangenius. The coach stammered a bit when asked about it, ultimately declining to comment on the nickname.
New York Jets
The team continues its preparation for Sunday’s bout against the 8-1 Bears with a full walk through tomorrow. Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com for a full game preview!