Coach's Friday News Conference

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Transcript of head coach Eric Mangini's news conference with the New York Jets media Friday morning:        

Yesterday was a good day in terms of the work that we did on third down, and we did some work in two-minute. What I liked about yesterday is that it was really the first time we've had to deal with the elements in a while, and that's always an adjustment. With the rain coming down, having to catch the wet football, the quarterback-center exchange, handing the ball off — you can't simulate that stuff. It has been a while since we've had to deal with it. We had unbelievable weather for quite a few weeks. As we transition into the winter and the elements become more of a factor, it's good to be able to get a day like yesterday to remind everybody the things you have to do and how you have to handle that situation differently from when you're dealing with days like today or the days that we've had.

On last season's defensive improvement after the bye week …

That wasn't a function of the bye week and specific things that happened during that time. The way that really unfolded was the course of multiple weeks of working on the techniques and making progress leading up to that point. I remember specifically talking the week before the bye about the progress we had made defensively, about the fits and seeing the fits become more solidified across the front and the understanding increasing, then going into the bye week continuing to do work. That was all a function of all the steps that came in prior to that. It just hit after the bye week as opposed to going into the bye week and finding one specific answer and moving forward from there.

On whether defensive changes can be made on a weekly basis …

It's not necessarily a function of the changes, but it's a function of continuing to build on the understanding of where you fit in the different defenses. There are always new things you introduce each year: It could be some new fronts that we have in, some new blitzes that we have in, and building those reps and building the understanding of "I'm supposed to be in the A-gap or I'm supposed to be in the B-gap against this run." It changes slightly and that progress each day eventually triggers a lot more successful execution.

On K Mike Nugent maintaining his focus despite several missed field goals …

It's the same approach that we have in all the different areas that we're trying to get better at and not focusing on that element of it but focusing on the technique of kicking the football, the prekick routine and the followthrough — all the steps that go into successfully kicking field goals. Mike did a really nice job with that last year where he struggled a little bit early, came back and reassessed where he was and worked on the things he needed to work on and then got going in the other direction, which is what I really like about Mike: his ability to look at things critically, analyze them and then diligently work on them. The kickoffs are a great example of Mike making progress in an area that he hadn't been as good at prior to that.

On Nugent's confidence …

I haven't seen a large fluctuation one way or the other. He's a pretty consistent guy. You look for that in kickers, punters and any of those guys that are out there for those types of plays. You need to move on to the next kick, you need to take the next shot or whatever it is. The last one is in the books, so all you can do is deal with the next one.

On Eagles RB Brian Westbrook …

He's a dynamic guy who can do so many things well: They have a big offensive line and he's able to set up behind that line and really wait and be patient at finding the opening. When he hits the opening, he really accelerates. He has great short-area quickness and great ability to go from a cut to a burst, which some backs can do and some backs can't do. He has excellent hands out of the backfield whether they're throwing him screens, a checkdown or he's split out. His run after the catch when he gets into the open field and he's through the pile of bodies and he's working in the secondary is dangerous.

On the Eagles offensive struggles against the Giants with Westbrook out of the lineup …

I'm sure that in analyzing that game there were probably some more elements besides one player. They've got some other players that have done some really nice things. Whenever you aren't as successful as you want to be in any category, it's usually more than just one guy.

On showing consistency against the run …

It's really important against any group that you face. If you open up a hole in a defense and then the next time it's the same call but a different hole opens up, it's hard to get those questions answered. It's hard to get those issues fixed. The key thing is understanding that I need to take care of my responsibility and my teammate will take care of their responsibility and not try to do anybody else's job. That is usually when you create a seam. [Westbrook] is so good at finding that crack, finding that crease and exposing that area that is a little bit vulnerable.

On whether he has had more meetings with OC Brian Schottenheimer this week …

It's been the same throughout the course of the season. I like the job Brian and the whole offensive staff does. They come up with very good game plans week in and week out. You look at the situation with the Giants and here's a team that the week before had really been explosive in terms of rushing the passer and causing a lot of problems. Our ability to protect the passer created some openings in the passing game. I thought that was well done. You're always looking to improve areas that aren't as good as you want them to be. Brian does a nice job of critically analyzing those things.

We've got a lot of guys on staff that have run the ball successfully for a long time. Jimmy Raye has worked with some of the greats and has worked in a lot different systems. He comes with not just good ideas but a great frame of reference, like Mike Westhoff does. They've been through a lot of games.

On how much control Schottenheimer has over the offensive game plan …

They'll put together the game plan. I may have some things I want to get done prior to them putting it together, things that through the course of the week I'll ask for specifically or things I may not like as much and ask to be removed. We also go through the process of discussing with Chad [Pennington] the things he likes and the things he doesn't like and the things he feels the most comfortable with.

Brian goes through the week and there are calls that he may have started out on Wednesday saying they are going to be really good for us, and then you get a chance to look at it a few times and it's not what you had hoped for. The game plan is constantly evolving on both sides of the ball. You saw that with one concept. You look at it in practice and then through the input and feedback and analysis you get to the final product.

On bringing a defensive mindset to the offensive game plan …

I always try to look at it from an area of strength for me, which is from the defensive perspective. I think about the problems a play could cause or the problems the defense our opponent is running could cause for that play. I help give some feedback on the techniques that may be played by the secondary versus certain routes, formations, blitz patterns, and where the difficulties and stress points are in different defenses. I share that with Brian and the offensive staff so that we make sure we can push those stress points.

On the kickoff wedge …

We've done a lot of different combinations of wedge-blocking back there. Mike does a really good job of not just putting together a scheme for that opponent but putting together our personnel versus that opponent. He explains to the players where the difficulties come in terms of their coverage unit, who they need to take care of, and then makes sure we get those things done.

It's a constant evolution. It's not always the same return. It may look the same, which is what you want it to be, but it varies from team to team,. the personnel varies from team to team. There's been a lot of different people back there in the wedge. I like their ability to be physical with those guys that are coming down the field, because they're coming down fast. When you're moving slowly against someone who moves quickly, you have to really anticipate and enjoy contact. It's great when they're firing down there and they end up moving backwards.

On Brad Smith's versatility …

It really hit me the first time we played him on special teams. Here's a guy that's as well-decorated as any college player in terms of being a quarterback, and that's what he had been. We put him out there on special teams and he makes two tackles the first time out. You know at that point that you're dealing with a unique guy. It wasn't a player that had come from a small school. This is a very successful college quarterback, and that's him.

He goes down and makes a few tackles and it's not a lot of fanfare. He's not looking for any high fives or anything like that. It's just him doing his job and him doing whatever you ask him to do to help the team win. We've worked him out at defensive back and worked him pretty much wherever you can work him. We've stayed away from D-line. He's a little undersized there, 3-4 or 4-3. Other than that, it's wide open for him. He's just a pleasure to deal with.

On staying focused on the task at hand …

It all starts with the next game. You can't look at two or three games ahead, and the same thing with retirement. You put a little bit in your 401k each week and then you have your nest egg. You can't put it all in at once. We're dealing with this week's part of the paycheck and that is what we are looking at.

On keeping his players focused …

We do quite a bit of work here each week, so I think they're focused on that part of it. It's an element you have to deal with whether you're winning games or losing games, whatever the case may be. You always have to deal with that part of human nature. It's something that you continually remind players of and make them aware. It's giving examples from other sports and other athletes and reinforcing the same teaching and coaching points.

On how Smith performed at cornerback …

He did OK. He and Jerricho [Cotchery] were kind of the same when we worked them there. Both are competitive.

On whether Smith could play CB and WR like Troy Brown …

They're bigger corners, so a little different area. Actually we worked Brad some as a safety and Jerricho some at corner. They could probably both go in and compete if we needed them.

On how QB Chad Pennington has responded during practice …

One of the trademarks with him is his work ethic. It really doesn't change week in and week out. It's always at a very high level. He's just looking at the Eagles and trying to have the same mental edge he always has. He's very good at focusing on the task at hand. The things that he can control are the game, our performance and our preparation, and that's what you're always stressing.

On S Erik Coleman's progress …

With each injury, every guy is a little bit different, so you don't go into it with a set of expectations. You go in with a plan. He's done a good job with the plan so far. We'll look at it today, and this is the type of situation that we're really going to err on the side of caution.

On the tests Coleman has to pass to play Sunday …

We have a whole protocol in place that we spent a lot of time putting together. He's been following the protocol since the injury. I think it's a very good system that we have in place, and I'm extremely comfortable with the approach that we have.

On whether there is a final test he has to pass to play …

It's more going through step by step. He's got to pass each step, so when he gets to the next step, he's working on that area. Once we get to the end of the protocol that we have in place, we'll make a final decision.

On if Coleman has made progress …

Each day he's done a little bit more. He did a little bit more yesterday. We'll just move forward with the program. It's like anything else, though. You have to make sure that as you go through the practice day, there's not a setback. That sometimes happens with any injury. You're looking at it as this is where he is now and then you have to assess him after the practice and after the day is done to make sure you haven't regressed and you're continuing to get better.

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