Mangold looks at a teammate before the snap
For Jets center Nick Mangold, lining up opposite nose tackle Kris Jenkins every day during training camp must have been an arduous task. But perhaps it's just the preparation he needed, as he continues to see success battling the likes of Albert Haynesworth and the formidable Tennessee Titans defensive front.
"As a player in the NFL you want to go against the best, and we had a great opportunity going against them, knowing that they're one of the best front fours in the league right now," Mangold told reporters on a conference call this afternoon. "That is a great challenge and gives you an opportunity to see where you're at."
Mangold hasn't been invited to a Pro Bowl yet, but is playing at a Pro-Bowl-caliber level this season. With winning battles against NT Vince Wilfork and Haynesworth the past two games, Mangold might get over the hump as far as the fan online voting, which ends Dec. 9.
"I think that New York has the great fortune of having passionate fans," said Mangold. "I know with the Jets, being the one that I can really speak for, the passion is unrivaled."
The Titans were a top-10 defense in rushing and sacks entering Sunday's game. Head coach Eric Mangini even described linemen Kyle Vanden Bosch and Haynesworth as "two guys that can ruin the game at any point." But Mangold, who was asked about the matchup with Tennessee's line all week long, wasn't irked by the hype surrounding them.
"Well, I mean, I don't think you really get tired of hearing it when you realize that they are a very good front four," he said. "I think if it was unfounded it would really get kind of annoying, but they were a very good front four and a very big challenge for us. I think our guys came and stepped up and played well."
Mangold anchors a Jets O-line that has helped dominate the time of the possession the past two games by a combined 79:48 to 48:02. They've also led the charge in the run game, helping the Jets average 166 net yards on the ground the past two games while keeping Brett Favre relatively untouched.
With an opening-drive score in each of the last six games and an opening-drive touchdown in the last three, the Jets are building consistency that is putting them in a good position to win games.
"I think the coaching staff comes up with a great plan. After studying them all week and seeing how we can attack and how we can get things done, they give us a great plan and our guys come out fired up," he said. "When the opening kickoff happens and we're out there after the week of work and preparation that we put in, our guys are eager to get out there and show that it means something. I think that is a big help to us getting on the right foot to start."
Coming off wins against two very tough AFC teams, Mangold is eager to build off the line's success heading into the remainder of the season.
"I think it was as exciting as any two-game stretch where you win both games," he said. "It gives us a good platform as we get into really the meat of the season to validate what we've been doing on working hard and keeping our heads down. It gives us something to work with and move forward with."