Coach's Friday News Conference

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Transcript of Jets head coach Eric Mangini's news conference before Friday's midday practice:    

On practice…

I feel good about the week of practice up to this point. Today we need to clean up a few things from the first two days, but that's usually the process they go through. I really liked the focus yesterday, the intensity, the communication, and it was throughout the whole course of the day. I thought it was at a very good level. There are going to be some mistakes, but when you make mistakes going through that process, practicing the way we did, those things are a lot easier to clean up.

On if adjustments have been made for Matt Cassel as the Patriots' starting QB...

It's hard to say what exactly they're going to do with him. I don't know if it's adjustments or contingencies, or however you want to look at it. You have to see how it unfolds because it is totally different. They've had a week to prepare for him being the quarterback, as opposed to him coming in and running the things that were specifically Tom-centered. Some of that is going to declare itself as we go on.

On if the Patriots have shortened the playbook for Cassel…

During the season, you never use the whole playbook anyways. It's a much smaller percentage, it's very team-specific. You get to practice those things in the context of that team, those adjustments, the probability of adjustments and things like that.

The difference, I'd say, is that Matt has been there for a long time. Matt has been in that system, which each year grows and evolves, but he's been there through the process of OTAs, training camp, preseason, during the regular season taking the second-team snaps, and he's been in the room with Tom [Brady]. Tom is such a great example of how to prepare, how to study and all those aspects. To have a mentor like that is really unique for a young guy.

On Cassel...

I was there a year with Matt. In terms of his raw ability at that point, you saw all the things that you're looking for: the ability to make plays with his feet and the ability to make all the throws in terms of his arm strength and his size. He's a very smart guy. He's very likable. I'm sure he has good chemistry with the offensive players. I know it's not like being the first guy, but he does have relationships there that he has built up over time. He has a what-you'd-anticipate-from-a-quarterback personality. I think the guys will rally around him and he'll do a good job leading them.

On defending the Patriots' running game…

You always want to be able to play good run defense. That's key. It's always important to be able to run the ball as well offensively. This is a very disciplined line. Dante Scarnecchia, who I've known for a long time, is one of the best coaches that I've ever seen and obviously one of the best offensive line coaches. It doesn't matter who's in the game, it doesn't matter who he's coaching, they are always very disciplined. Their technique is outstanding and they're able to take advantage of any technique errors you may make, any mistakes you may make.

They have explosive running backs. All four running backs are very good, so it doesn't matter who is in. There is no time to exhale. All the issues that they create in the passing game that you have to be ready for, it's not like you can just say "OK, we're going to go put extra people in the box and stop the run" because now you're dealing with a bunch of people outside. It has to be a mixture of safety down, no safety down, be able to stop the run with seven and be able to stop the run with eight. They've always been a very good running team. I think that it has stayed consistent, so this will be a great challenge for us.

On Bryan Thomas…

I thought Bryan had a very good off-season in the weightroom, in the classroom and all those different areas. That's not to say that the year before he had a bad off-season, but he was able to go back, objectively look at his performance, objectively look at the things that he did and be really honest with himself. That's what you're always asking. You're asking that of the players and the coaches. I ask that of myself, to go back and honestly and objectively look at the things that you did and say, "Could I have done these things better?"

Once you identify that, you can go through and do something about it and work on weaknesses. Everything is not going to be perfect, but if you just consistently get a little bit better, then that builds. It was nice to see him have the production that he had, and it wasn't just the two sacks. It was the other things that he did throughout the course of the game defensively.

On Thomas' defensive performance…

He has been very good in terms of the running game, being stout in the running game and being able to control the end of the line of scrimmage. I think his level of understanding of the defense continues to get better. In fairness to him, he now is going into the third year, but it was a real position switch for him. He had stood up some, but he's just three years into it. A lot of linebackers come into the league and they played it in pee-wee, high school, college, and he's making that transition. I've liked his approach.

On the difficulty of changing positions…

It's challenging, but on the flipside it's also a really unique opportunity for guys. When guys get to play a little bit of offense or they change positions or they move around, just like when you had those chances in high school if guys played both ways, it's fun. If you work at whatever the new position is like you worked at your standard position, then you can get pretty good at it because the concepts are consistent.

Especially offense to defense or defense to offense, there's real value in that because you understand how you would attack if you were on the other side. Once you understand that, then you can use that information in your new role. Going from D-line to linebacker, there's a lot more stuff going on. The reads are different. You have a run responsibility, a pass responsibility and a lot of communication. It's definitely challenging. I've seen a lot of guys go through that transition and develop into excellent players.

On Thomas Jones' approach against the Patriots…

I don't think any week it's going to be a function of dramatically changing the approach. Thomas' approach has been very consistent. Obviously, he's very consistent in the weightroom — that's pretty apparent. He's consistent at practice, he's consistent in the meetings, and the running game is really a function of all 11 guys.

The better we do in the passing game, that opens things up. The better fakes that Brett [Favre] does, even on running plays, that opens things up. The better coordination the offensive line has, and the tight ends and fullbacks are extremely important. You can't lose track of the secondary because that opens up runs. It goes from six to 12 to 15 where they're getting those blocks down the field and our guys are in space.

On Dustin Keller…

He had some opportunities to play. Sometimes the ball comes to you, sometimes it doesn't. The thing that any of those guys need to do, but especially Dustin, is continue to be very consistent in terms of his routes and his depths. You want to gain the trust of the rest of the group, and especially the quarterback, so that he knows if you have a 12-yard curl, you're going to be at 12 yards. If the route adjusts, you're going to make the proper adjustment. Then when you do get a chance to catch the ball, you're able to make the play.

He made a great play yesterday in two-minute. It was a one-handed grab over the defensive back in tight coverage. He has made a lot of plays, both in practice and the preseason games. I think it'll manifest itself here at some point.

On if Keller's blocking has improved…

Yes, it's a work in progress. It's something he has been focusing on. Mike Devlin is the position coach, and Mike's background is offensive line, so he's on those guys hard to play with the proper technique. It's not pass-first, it's 50/50, and he really appreciates the importance of the coordination between the tight end and the tackle. That sometimes gets lost, because you think of the offensive line as a unit, but those tight ends really are an extension of the offensive line.

On Favre's impact on the running game…

It can definitely help quite a bit if you can effectively pass the ball and if you can constantly threaten people with that element of the game. You have to do things defensively to adjust to that, and whenever you're one-dimensional, people can usually take away that one dimension. If you can stretch the whole defense, if you can put pressure on all those different areas, now you have the best chance to be successful because it's not a concentrated effort on just one thing that you do well.

On D'Brickashaw Ferguson…

I think he has made tremendous strides. He won the off-season award for his strength and conditioning group. He was in the weightroom really early after the season. It wasn't a function of "Hey, I need to go take three months off and head down to Turks and Caicos." He was in the weightroom working out and came in early with some other guys and spent a bunch of time there. He's been in on off days, all those things.

You've seen his body develop, you've seen the strength that he has added and the bulk that he has added. He's an excellent athlete. Now, to combine that with a much stronger frame, it allows him to not be vulnerable to some of the moves that are just purely an athletic tackle, which he's usually vulnerable to.

On if Ferguson has benefited by playing alongside Alan Faneca…

I'm sure it has. Those veteran guys that we have there with Brandon [Moore], Alan and Damien [Woody], it always helps to have guys like that with younger guys. These guys are coming into their third season. They've really had the benefit of playing every snap almost offensively. That's helped. Now you add some vets like we had already in Brandon and Alan and Damien, and they have learned some tricks. They get a really good example of what it means to be a pro. That's all really positive.

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