INSIDER FRIDAY TEAM REPORT
By Rich Forestano
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
December 5th, 2008
First WR Plaxico Burress, now DE Shaun Ellis. Ellis was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana, speeding and driving without insurance after being pulled over by police last weekend. Coach Mangini addressed the issue before questions were fielded on the issue.
“When the incident took place, Mike (Tannenbaum) and I gathered as much information as week could and we sat down with Shaun and discussed the situation with him before we expressed our disappointment with what happened,” he said. “Shaun did exactly what I expected Shaun to do which was take full accountability for his actions.”
Mangini said the organization disciplined him internally and that now it’s a pending legal matter. The Jets knew about the incident before Sunday’s game and allowed Ellis to play anyway. Mangini wouldn’t elaborate on what the discipline entailed and would not comment on that part of the issue.
“We went through it,” he said. “We discussed it organizationally and we took what we thought was the appropriate internal disciplinary action.”
This week Gang Green’s roommate at the Meadowlands, the New York Giants, fielded questions about the Jets success, their discipline and commended the Jets for keeping a tight ship. The Jets may take a page out of Big Blue’s playbook and be open about the incident. Ellis spoke to the media after practice and expressed his feelings about the situation.
“It’s not been easy,” Ellis said. “The situation that happened, I can’t change it. It’s something I got to grow from and learn from.”
Ellis said the discussion he had with his teammates is something that he’d like to remain private. He seemed cautious in the words he chose to describe what’s going on considering his situation is still very gray.
“I have to move past it,” he said. “I will be responsible and just move on and look forward to the rest of the season.”
The possibility of a suspension by the league or team would put a serious dent in the Jets run defense and jeopardize the chance of a playoff appearance.
“I mean, you know, that situation is still out there,” he said. “It’s not set in stone so I mean I’m pretty sure still there’ll be some repercussions for what I’ve done.”
Ellis went on to say that it hasn’t been a distraction, but a disappointment and that he has to move forward. The public’s perception of the situation could (but unlikely) play a role in what happens.
“I think Shaun is a professional,” Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton said. “He understands what he needs to do to get ready to play. We haven’t really focused on that. You have to be able to come in this door and you have to go to work and focus on what’s at hand when you’re here. I think he’s very capable of staying focused with getting ready for the 49ers.”
Coach Mangini feels the same way.
“We take personal conduct very seriously,” Mangini said. “We spend a lot of time researching the type of people we’re going to bring into the organization. I can tell you that I’ve known Shaun for three years and he’s been voted captain for three years and he’s been outstanding. I think he made a mistake and he doesn’t run from that mistake. He’s fully accountable for it and he realizes the disappointment he’s caused.”
Ellis will keep his captain status. Mangini is known as a law-and-order coach and it’ll be interesting to see how he and the organization approaches this in terms of a suspension, fine, etc.
“I feel comfortable with the action that we’ve taken,” he said. “Our approach to personal conduct hasn’t changed one bit.”
Publicly, there’s been no outward indication that there’s been a disciplinary action on Ellis. If this drags on, it could affect the Jets expected playoff run if the league hands down a suspension on Ellis when January rolls around.
“The league goes through a process of looking into any incident and they’ll act accordingly to whatever point they decide to act,” the coach said while wiping his brow. “There’s no set timeline on these things. They’ll research it and do their due diligence.”
Whether the discipline will increase or decrease based on legal findings remains to be seen. NFL players are no longer these untouchable holy grails (see Michael Vick). Mangini has spoken to the team about these types of matters before and that it’s never reactionary.
“It’s an attempt to be proactive with trying to make good decisions and the points that were made the other day are really what we believe in,” Mangini said.
Initially, Mangini found out about Ellis through a third party. He said he found out from “people in the building.” The rest of the team knows how Mangini feels about these types of situations. But does it help the team to specifically know what it is even though it appears that it’s between the coach, the GM and owner and the player?
“I think the team knows how serious we take these matters and how discipline is handled,” he said. “We made that very clear over and over again. Those are things that are spelled out from day one.”
Every situation is different. There’s no one way to handle it but don’t be surprised if Ellis’ situation is handled with little leniency. Considering the controversy surrounding Burress is so deafening, Ellis’ problem will be under the microscope even more.
Now on to something other than Shaun Ellis’ run-in with the law. West Coast trips haven’t gone well for the New York Jets this season. The Jets are 0-2 on trips to Oakland and San Diego and are looking to reverse the trend with their remaining left coast stops in San Francisco and Seattle. This season, east coast teams are 6-3 when making the cross country trip. Maybe that’s why the Jets are flying out Friday night to get a head start.
With the Jets, as most know, coming off a grueling 34-17 loss to Denver need to show they can bounce back and take it to a team that beat a Buffalo Bills team, although reeling, is “considered” better than the San Francisco 49ers. Gang Green has their work cut out for them since both the Dolphins and Patriots stand to gain a game in the conference if they win this weekend. And the Jets know San Francisco will be anything but pushovers.
“Their mentality has changed with (Mike) Coach Singletary,” S Kerry Rhodes said. “They want to run the ball more. They have a great running back in Frank Gore who is doing a great job with those guys. He’s been good since he has been in the league since his rookie year. They have evolved more that way, but (Mike) Martz has his specialty passes that he always does each game. We will have to figure out those and see how they are going to attack us.”
One of those ways they could attack Gang Green is…drum roll please…through the air. QB Jay Cutler and his third ranked passing offense picked apart an off balance secondary last week and Shaun Hill will look to do the same. He did it against Buffalo and is looking to make it 2-for-2 against AFC East teams this year. Hill has played in five games this year, and three of them were with a 100+ QB rating with a fourth coming close at 96.5.
“Shaun Hill has really been efficient,” head coach Eric Mangini said. “He amount of sacks have decreased dramatically since he's come in because he's been able to elude the rush and buy some time. The number of interceptions, percentage¬wise, has decreased since he's come in. He's done a really good job. They have some excellent playmakers, Isaac Bruce and the other Vernon I really liked in the draft, Vernon Davis. He is continuing to improve.”
Mangini said the one thing he noticed about offensive coordinator Mike Martz is that wherever he goes, the “Big Play” is always in his repertoire. He said he saw that element in St. Louis and Detroit and he sees it here.
”Big plays, wherever he's been,” se said. “There's been big completions. They have 11 guys with a catch of over 20 yards. That's not unique to the 49ers. And I would say a lot of creativity. A lot of things that force you to communicate, force you to adjust and force you to be sound defensively.”
Clemens still learning
QB Kellen Clemens hasn’t said much since the season began. He’s been on the sideline and doing what a backup does, tries to improve. “I think he’s made some good strides,” Mangini said. “It’s hard to say definitively because he hasn’t played in the games very much but what you see in practice in terms of his reads, his control of the offense, his decision making; there’s been a lot of things that are really encouraging in those areas.” Clemens needs to improve if Brett Favre decides to hang up his cleats after this year. The experience Clemens has is one of his advantages over camp standout Brett Ratliff. “I’d say the same things are true for Brett Ratliff,” the coach said. “I like the progress he’s made. The one of the things that Brian [Daboll] does which is good is if a guy has an incompletion, the other guy goes in right away and if a guy throws a pick, that guy can’t go in until the next period.” Expect these two to battle it out if Favre is not in the mix next season.