Coach Mangini: Rookie Camp Day One
Late Friday afternoon, Jets first-year head coach Eric Mangini spoke with the media about the first day of Rookie Camp.
How is everybody doing? Sorry I'm a little late. We were working after practice. I thought that was important to do.
I just want to talk to you a little bit about the weekend, about today. It was an important day for me. It was good to be with the coaching staff, working together on the field. One of the important things of this time is we've been in meeting rooms, we've been dealing with schemes and things like that for a long time. To finally get out there and start to teach, that was good. To work with each other as a staff, that was important, too. I think it was a good thing for me personally, also an important thing organizationally.
I've talked to you guys a lot about the characteristics of the players that I'm looking for. You've heard it a dozen times. Now it's important for these guys to understand the culture and the atmosphere that we're trying to develop here.
I want a smart team. I want a tough team. I want a hard‑working team. I want a competitive team. These rookies need to understand that's what we're looking for. You know, it doesn't really matter what they did at the places they were at. It doesn't matter what they did at Ohio State, Virginia, or any of those places.
What matters now is how they fit into the New York Jets, how they can help this team win. That's something that is part of the learning process for them. I think they're a little bit shell-shocked right now. There's been a lot of information, classroom, some of the other things that we do outside of the classroom with getting them acquainted with the area. But I thought overall in terms of the morning practice, it was probably what I expected. With the afternoon practice, we made a lot of progress.
This was a really good day for me. It was a really important day for the coaching staff and the organization. We are just happy to get things underway here. So I'd like to open it up for questions.
You said the morning practice was what you expected. What were you expecting? In general, what do you expect from a first day?
I think any time you get a group of people together that haven't worked together, including the coaching staff on the field, there are going to be some bumps. That's what it looked like. When you get a group of people that haven't worked together that are now coming to a new level, like all these college guys that are coming to pro football, you can get a few more MEs (mental errors) than normally would be there. That's what we saw. But they were working hard. The tempo was good. The effort was there. It's just I expected some better results.
You talked about this being an important day. How about in terms of finally being on the field for the first time, did you have a moment to yourself where you paused and thought that it's finally here?
I tell you, it was fantastic to finally get out of a meeting room, to stop talking about the scheme and the playbook and the free agency and the draft. It's been countless hours doing that stuff. Now to actually get these players in here, that the organization worked so hard to get in here, to see them on the field, to see the staff that took a long time to put together because we're trying to get the right guys, to see them now working together on the field, it was really personally satisfying for me to do that. It was a lot of fun. It was enjoyable to do that.
How much different will it be when you actually start getting the veterans in here?
I think at that point the rookies will really understand how different the NFL is, how much faster the game is, how much stronger these guys are, how much more experienced they are. You can tell them, but it takes a little while, and they need to see it and experience that. I explained that to them last night. I continue to explain it to them. They're behind. They need to close the gap and they need to close it quickly. That will really illustrate the point for them.
On D'Brickashaw Ferguson's size and how his day went….
Well, there's no contact in this camp, so you don't appreciate a big man as much as you would a little man in a camp like this. But he was finding his way, too. The calls were new, the adjustments were new. Like I said, you appreciate those big guys once the pads go on a lot more.
On how he feels about what Chad Pennington said last night…
To me, that's one of the things I love about Chad and I respect about Chad, he's competitive, he's hard working, he's determined. That's what I'd expect from any player who's gone through the things he's gone through. He's exceeded my expectations in terms of the way that he approaches things and his professional attitude. I expect those things from a competitor of his nature.
Physically, same with him (Pennington) as far as where he is?
The things I've said in terms of his rehab remain consistent. He's working at it. We have a whole process. We evaluate things as we go. Nothing's changed there. When Chad's ready to go, he'll be ready to go.
The drills, you brought some of those in yourself. Is that something you'll continue to do throughout the camp and the season?
I enjoy doing that. I enjoy coaching. I enjoy teaching. I enjoy helping the players get better. I think in any area that I can help them get better, I'm going to. Maybe offensively, giving some insight into how defenses operate, how they attack them, the technique they play, that type of thing. Defensively giving some insight into the way I've done things and the way I envision things. I think it's important they hear from me, 'This is what I want.' There's no way you can make that clearer than if you're telling them yourself and showing them yourself.
You mentioned how important it was to get on the field with these players. Did you have any kind of pre‑practice meeting where you kind of laid out these things you were trying to build here in terms of the culture? How important is that?
It's really important. I can't stress it enough for these guys. The quicker they understand what it means to be a New York Jet, the things that we believe in, the culture and the atmosphere that we're trying to establish, the fact that they need to fit in, the fact that they need to find a way to help us win, and the fact that nothing they've done in the past matters. It doesn't matter.
We talked about players that were highly regarded coming out in the draft, high draft picks, first‑round draft picks, and some of those players not working out. There were high expectations coming into it from the team, and the player. Then we talked about other players like Wayne Chrebet, Rick Lyle, and Victor Green, those guys that came in and made the most of their opportunity. They all have choices to make every day. They can make the right decisions and fit in and learn how to become a pro, and then they can have outstanding careers. They have to give themselves a chance to succeed.
Was Brad Smith the perfect example of that? Was he a classic example of that?
I don't think it's exclusive to Brad. My message was not exclusive to Brad. My message was universal: It doesn't matter who you are, how you got in the room, you're all in the room. Now what are you going to do with this opportunity? You're being evaluated moving forward in terms of how you can help the New York Jets, how you fit in, and how you can help us win. Regardless of who it is, they all need to find that role.
First two practices here, did anybody jump out at you that you liked that you saw today?
No, nobody I'd like to single out at all today. What I liked in the second practice is the fact that 11 people on defense were working together and that 11 people on offense were working together. It's not about the individuals; it's about the team. If one person is outstanding and the rest of the group isn't, or if one person is doing their job and the rest of the group isn't, it really doesn't matter. It doesn't matter.
What I was most pleased with the second practice is the level of communication and teamwork that I saw.
Brad and a number of other rookies are changing positions. You already talked about the rookies being behind. Can you talk about the challenge those individuals playing a new position in the National Football League, the challenge they face?
I think they're all football players and they've all played multiple positions at some point in their career, high school, some guys played multiple positions in college. We've seen, myself personally, everybody collectively, players make transitions to different positions. Troy (Brown), Antwaan Randle El, and right on down the line. At the end of the day, they're football players. If they embrace it and work at it, do a good job with it, they'll be fine.
How much 11‑on‑11 did you see today? And did Kellen Clemens step in with his natural leadership abilities and pick that up?
He did have some moments in the afternoon practice where I really did see the things that I expected to see. Someone was misaligned, and he said, 'Over here, you need to be set here.' That presence, that understanding of what we're trying to get done, seeing the big picture, someone that did show up this afternoon, and it was good to see, and it's what I expect to see moving forward.
What can the guys expect tomorrow?
They can expect more installation, more learning and more adjustments. They need to communicate at a better level. They can expect that they better perform better than they did today. That's what we expect: progress. We expect continual progress, and that's how they're evaluated.
Do you feel people you have on this team are sufficient to get you to the next level? Do you feel comfortable with that?
Well, it's the first day of rookie camp. I'd like to take this a little bit further along here before we really evaluate things on a collective level. But I can tell you this: if we find somebody we feel can upgrade the team, they're going to be here.
Back to Chad for a moment. He seemed quite optimistic in terms of throwing the football. At this point are you expecting him to be able to participate fully at the end of the month in terms of team drills, live snaps?
That's something that we'll evaluate as we go. We still have a little bit of time here before that takes place. After talking to the medical staff, we're going to continue to do the things to help his rehab progress. That's how we're going to view it. Once he's able to compete fully, we'll go from there.
Other than that, he's not ready to fully participate?
I'm saying as of now, he's in rehab. He's working hard in his rehab. We're making as much progress as we can make each day.
In general how do you view the quarterback competition? I know you don't look at one position necessarily different than others. But just with that position with Chad, how do you see that unfolding over the next couple months?
Chad, Patrick, Brooks, Kellen, they're all in the mix. They all need to compete. Whoever does the best job, that's the guy who's going to play.
There was a report that the Jets draft class collectively had the highest score on the Wonderlic test. What do you think about that?
I had heard that. I think that when you target the types of people that we're targeting, something like that, you have a pretty good chance of making that happen, or at least being in the range of making that happen. I think that's a great distinction to have.
Now, all that being said, I want to see that translate into doing the right assignments and making the right adjustments. I hope that's not the only distinction this draft class has.
Do you have any initial impression of Brad at receiver? Do you have any more grasp on how many different ways you could use him?
You know, it's early in the process. Brad, like all the other players that we brought in, he worked on special teams, he worked on his tackling. All the offensive players did that stuff.
This really isn't about just a one‑position shift. What it's about is them figuring out a way, how they fit, how they can help us win. That's what we're trying to do is give them opportunities to show us where they fit and show us how they can help us win. Whatever that area of the team is, they'll have a chance.
We were looking for two coaches in particular Richie Anderson and Bryan Cox. Where are they?
They'll be back tonight. They were at the coach's symposium.