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INSIDER MONDAY TEAM REPORT
By Dan Powell
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
December 18th, 2006
A day after an big win with tremendous playoff implications, head coach Eric Mangini allowed the Jets players to rest as they shift their focus to next weekend’s trip to Miami. The players were at Weeb Ewbank Hall in Hempstead to pick up DVD’s on the Dolphins and to do some work in the weight room, but only Mangini addressed the media.

A week after an embarrassing home loss to the Bills, Gang Green rebounded in a huge way with a sound beating of the Vikings in the Metrodome. Realizing it would be tough to run on the NFL’s top rush defense, Mangini and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer schemed the perfect game plan to attack Minnesota as quarterback Chad Pennington led the way with a career high 339 yards through the air.

“Brian, to me, has done a really good job throughout the season, and it’s not just Brian it’s that whole staff,” Mangini said. “They challenge each other and they do a great job of coming up with a plan each week that attacks weaknesses and minimizes strengths.”

The special teams unit had yet another strong game on Sunday. Wide receiver Wallace Wright, who was signed from the practice squad on December 3, was all over the field again, racking up three tackles on special teams. Kicker Mike Nugent stayed hot as well, connecting on four field goals, which could have been five if punter Ben Graham had not botched a hold in the first quarter. Nugent has not connected on his last 11 field goal attempts, including two of more than 50 yards.

“Mike continues to do a good job,” Mangini said. “And I thought the coverage units continued to do a solid job.”

The Jets have now shifted their focus to their Christmas Day showdown with their arch-rival, the Dolphins. At 8-6, the Jets are tied for a wild card spot, but they hold very few tiebreakers and even if they win out, they will need some help. Still, Mangini and the Jets remain hopeful as they prepare for Miami.

“If we just take care of the games that we can take care of, then everything else will take care of itself,” Mangini said.

INSIDER TIDBITS

-Mangini gave out his customary game balls today. Wide receiver Laveranues Coles took offensive honors with a huge 12-catch 144-yard performance, defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson’s four tackles and two assists gave him the defensive game ball, and Rashad Washington was the special teams player of the week with two tackles on coverage. Running back Derrick Blaylock took home the most important game ball, the practice player of the week.

“Derrick’s been doing a good job,” Mangini said of the veteran. “He’s given us a real good look at the other team’s running back and that was real important this week because stopping the run was one of the keys this week.” Unfortunatley for Blaylock, his stellar play at practice has not gotten him any game time, he’s been inactive since October.

-Wide receiver Justin McCareins had by far his biggest offensive performance of the season thus far as he was thrown to three times and caught two passes for 70 yards. Since starting training camp on the physically-unable-to-perform list after failing a conditioning test, McCareins has been winning his was back into Mangini’s good graces, first by volunteering to help out on special teams, where he made one tackle a few games ago, and now by starting to carve out a role in the offense.

-In a rare moment of openness, Mangini admitted there was some excitement around Weeb Ewbank Hall about the prospect of playing in the postseason.

“We’re all excited,” Mangini said. “That’s what you want, to be playing meaningful games late in the season.”

-Mangini said that he expects Coles, who was hurt late in the game as he got hit hard in his upper body, to be ready to go next week.

“Laveranues, he’s so tough,” Mangini said of the receiver. “It doesn’t matter what gets hit; he just pop backs up and he moves on.”

- The same goes for C Nick Mangold who appeared to hurt his knee on the second play of the game. According to Mangini, it was actually a thigh injury and not the knee. Mangold returned the next play and finished the game.

“He’s a Laveranues in training,” said Mangini on Mangold. “He’ll be fine.”

-The Coach said that the team will try to facilitate time for the players to spend some holiday time with their families before they depart for Miami on Saturday. “The best Christmas present for all will be a win on Sunday,” said Mangini.

The team has tomorrow off then returns to begin preparation for the Dolphins on Wednesday. Be sure to check back to Jets Insider for all the latest NY Jets news.