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INSIDER MONDAY TEAM REPORT

By David Fletcher
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
January 1st, 2007
Man-gini has granted all Jets fans wishes with a playoff berth and a showdown with their bitter rival Patriots. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Man-gini has granted all Jets fans wishes with a playoff berth and a showdown with their bitter rival Patriots. (Jets Insider.com Photo)

It may be a new year, but Monday afternoon at Jets’ camp was the same as it has been all season: a non-informative mid-afternoon presser, limited locker room access for reporters, and countless hours of game-tape review. One can only speculate as to Jets Head Coach Eric Mangini’s New Year’s resolution, but he made one thing perfectly clear on Monday: it wasn’t to be less secretive.

The Jets will face Mangini’s former team, the New England Patriots, in Foxboro on Sunday for the wildcard round of the AFC playoffs. In the true spirit of his mentor, New England Head Coach Bill Belichick, Mangini answered question after question about the impending match-up with complete ambiguity.

”I think anybody that we were going to play this week was going to be a very good football team,” Mangini said during his Monday-morning presser. The answer was very diplomatic and well-worded, except it didn’t come close to answering the original question (“What are your feeling about going against the Patriots for a third time?").

Mangini rarely divulges any significant information when speaking with the media, but during the weeks leading up to games against the Patriots, he simply won’t share a thing. Injury statuses, things he’s noticed on tape, reactions to comments by the opponents – before a Patriots game, Mangini won’t touch them with a 10-foot pole.

New England S Rodney Harrison, for example, was injured in the Patriots’ Week 17-win over the Titans. The injury forced him out for nearly the entire game and was severe enough that it elicited a number of angry reactions from members of the Patriots. When asked about how the Jets would prepare, knowing he will likely miss this Sunday’s game, Mangini replied, “Rodney’s tough… he’s like a Laveranues (Coles) tough.”

With the Jets in the playoffs, many reporters from national news outlets were in attendance on Monday who normally would not cover Jets’ practices. Most came looking to coax Mangini into starting a war-of-words with Belichick, but to no avail.

Carefully trying to pick his words so as not to give reporters any ammunition to start such a conflict, Mangini appeared surprisingly at ease at the podium on Monday. Earlier this season he struggled with the task, but perhaps he has simply learned to deal with the angst in order to achieve whatever his goal may be.

Mangini spoke about angst in his presser on Monday, but it was not in reference to his secrecy behind the podium. Instead, the Jets’ rookie-HC used the term to describe the pros and cons of Gang Green’s complex offensive system.

”Defensively, when you have to sit back and get ready for those (audibles and trick plays), it consumes a lot of time and it causes a lot of angst,” he explained, adding, “I want to cause angst…”

OL Pete Kendall weighed in on the complex offense run by Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. “I do think that presents a challenge for us as players,” he said, “but I think you’ve seen the results… we’ve all been pretty pleased with them, we’ve all welcomed the challenge.”

Regardless of how much information is getting across, the Jets are winning games. Mangini’s tactics for dealing with the media may frustrate members of the media, but he was hired not to deal with the media perfectly but with the team, and he’s done a fantastic job there.

Just like Coach Belichick, Mangini has gotten his message across this season to the one group that matters most: the team.

In the words of Kendall, whose observations about the Jets’ offense once again can be applied to Mangini’s coaching tactics, “You hope, as unsettling as it is to us maybe while we’re doing it, it’s more unsettling to the guy across.” Well, his methods might irk reporters, but they have opponents shaking in their boots, and that’s a fair trade-off any day of the week.

INSIDER TIDBITS:

-T Anthony Clement was named Player of the Week on offense for the final week of the regular season. DE Shaun Ellis took the honors on defense, and rookie-DB Eric Smith – who partially blocked a Raiders’ punt in the second half – grabbed the award for his work on special teams. OL Wade Smith took the most important award, Practice Player of the Week.

-Denver Broncos CB Darrent Williams was fatally shot while driving in his limousine last night. Williams was just 24 years old. Two other riders in the limousine were struck by bullets and are in the hospital. There is no word yet as to a possible motive.

Mangini began his press conference by offering his condolences to the friends and family of Williams in dealing with “a horrible tragedy.” The Jets’ coach also stated, “our thoughts and prayers are with them (William’s family).”

RB Leon Washington told reporters, “Whenever you lose somebody like that it’s tough, it’s very tough.” He added that rookie-S Jamie Thompson played with Williams in college at Oklahoma State and said the two were “very close.”

-Coach Mangini didn’t find out that his Jets were going to play the Patriots next Sunday GM Mike Tannenbaum called his home to inform him. He apparently wanted to watch the Broncos game to find out, but his young son, Jake, had other ideas. “It was between that (watching the game) and Playdoh and some Candyland,” joked Mangini. Since he had to find out about the game’s results from Tannenbaum, it’s clear that Playdoh and Candyland took precedent.

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

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