Coach's Friday News Conference

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

Not a lot has really changed since yesterday in terms of what we're doing today. There are some slight variations, but it really follows the model that we've followed throughout the course of the season.

On CB Ty Law and if he'll start on Sunday…

I think he's done a good job at practice. We've worked him in there, Dwight [Lowery] is still working in there, David Barrett and Hank [Poteat], and so we have a lot of different options. I see all of those guys playing roles. We have multiple substitute defenses, so it will also depend on what they come out in as to who is in the game.

On if he would be comfortable starting Law…

Yes, I would be completely comfortable with him starting. He's a guy, like I've said, I've had a long relationship with and I feel very comfortable with, in terms of his preparation, his level of conditioning and his performance. I think last week was a good indication of where he is at physically, to be able to come in, not have done a lot of football-specific things, and still play as many plays as he played. I thought he played at a pretty good level last week.

On if Law's play will be contingent on Lowery's performance…

Our goal is to use all of the guys that we bring to the game. That's been something that we learned last year and was reinforced quite a bit last year. Something that I'm trying to make sure that we do is, whether it's the secondary or the defensive line or the outside linebackers, to get meaningful reps out of all of those guys.

You can get the special teams reps — those tend to be somewhere between 10 to 17 plays — and now you have your 65 plays on defense, typically. You like to be able to get another 10 to 15 plays out of those guys, so that the guys that are starting and playing more of the bulk of the game are better rested through the four quarters.

On if Law's playing time will depend on whether they're taking snaps in the base defense…

That's exactly what I was saying. Last week we weren't going in with the expectation of playing that many plays in substituted defense. When the game got a little bit skewed in terms of score, New England went with the no-huddle, primarily 11-personnel group, which we matched with nickel and dime. That's why the numbers spiked a lot higher than we had anticipated.

On if Law was sore after the New England game…

I think he was pretty sore, but it was good that we had the break that we did right after the game. It was pretty unique in terms of how quickly he played and how much he played, and then getting the break afterwards.

On if his comfort level with Law is unique…

[Jason] Webster, for New England, played the week earlier. He hadn't played, I think, since the preseason and he played quite a few snaps. Sometimes that happens where you bring a guy in for a specific role and suddenly the game ends up being primarily based around that role. What you anticipated being 10 to 15 plays jumps dramatically.

You gauge it throughout the course of the game. We had some other players who have been here throughout the course of training camp and the whole season, and there was some cramping and things like that. You never really know.

On TE Dustin Keller…

He's had really productive practices. He and Brett [Favre] have a good relationship. He likes using tight ends. There have been multiple days where he's make four or five unbelievable catches, but you go into the game and the coverage doesn't give you a chance to throw that same ball that maybe you threw in practice. You're always speculating in practice what the coverage is going to be.

I'm not surprised that he was able to make the catches that he made. What's going to be important is can he consistently maintain that production? What I mean by that is not just the numbers but the quality of play that we've seen here over the last three or four weeks.

On how Keller will play against Tennessee's defense…

I'm not really sure because, again, they play a lot of different things — whether you can push the ball to the tight end, whether it's going to be more of a game on the perimeter, or is it going to be the backs that end up being isolated more often than not? It's hard to say going into the game how they're going to play you.

On Leon Washington's preparation for kickoff returns compared to other players he has worked with…

It's a little different in this situation because I'm a lot more involved in special teams and a lot more interested in special teams now than I ever was. As the defensive coordinator, you want them to do well and you want your guys to play well in those units, but you really are just focused on the defense. With the defensive backs, it's kind of the same thing. You don't spend a lot of time in special teams meetings in those situations. It's harder for me to compare apples to apples in that situation.

On if other kickoff returners prepare as much as Washington…

I think the good ones spend a lot of time on it. The really good special teams players that I've been around have studied as much as any other position player would on offense and defense, if not more. They're getting that phase and they're usually a backup on offense and defense. They don't just have to know their primary defensive position but another defensive position. They actually have a lot on their plates.

On if Washington was overweight when he was drafted…

I'd say compared to where he is now and where he has come, I'd say there is a dramatic difference from how he arrived to where he is at now.

On if Washington has lost weight…

I don't think it was a function of being heavy. It was more a function of overall conditioning, his commitment to the strength program and things like that. Not bad, but I think where he is at now is very good.

On Tennessee's defensive line…

It's a great challenge. They have two guys that can ruin the game at any point in [Albert] Haynesworth and [Kyle] Vanden Bosch. They're two guys that we've faced now three times. Vanden Bosch last year had 11 tackles and three sacks. Haynesworth is disruptive or can be incredibly disruptive on any given play. Both of those guys generate sacks, tackles for loss and quarterback pressures. I think with Vanden Bosch, he's relentless. He's just a high-motor tough guy that doesn't stop throughout the course of the game.

On if the offensive line is more prepared now than it would have been playing Tennessee earlier in the season…

I'm pleased with the improvement of the offensive line. I think that this defensive line would pose challenges whenever you face them through the course of the year. They've worked together longer. As we improve, other teams improve as well.

On Keller's relationship with Favre…

It's always encouraging to have the quarterback counting on you and having faith in you. That's not something that is just given. It's something that is earned. That means that Dustin has earned Brett's respect in that area. That's something that he's going to have to continue to do throughout the remainder of the season.

On if he develops playcalling around strong offensive relationships…

I think that one of the things that we've seen here through the first part of our games is Brett has thrown to multiple guys. There have been some games where Chansi Stuckey has had several catches, LC [Laveranues Coles], J-Co [Jerricho Cotchery], [Chris] Baker.

To me, it's not important to focus on an individual player or that relationship. It's more important to focus on who's open. I have faith in all of our offensive skill players. If they get open, Brett is going to get them the ball and they're going to make a play.

On the bigger picture of a win against Tennessee…

I don't spend a lot of time on that. There are a lot of games here to go. This is the next game. Whoever else wins or loses or any of those things, that is what it is. All we can focus on is Tennessee. The other speculation and the other discussions just aren't prudent.

On being able to set your own destiny with a win against Tennessee…

I think it's a good team that we're facing. They have the best record in football, it's a road game, it's an AFC game. All of those things are important, but it's really not looked at in the greater context. It's looked at in terms of we're facing an excellent team, at their place, best record in football and how we have to play that team to win.

On if winning at New England increased pressure…

No, I feel like we've been talking about the pressures, or the expectations, or all of those different things throughout the course of the season, and externally, they're going to change each week based on who wins, who loses and how we're doing. It's great. It's fun to think about and talk about. But it's not really what we focus on in terms of our preparation.

On the importance of the defensive line…

They're always important. They're not just important in the running game, they're going to be extremely important there, but I think the way that their passing game has continued to improve, to be effective with the coordinated pass rush and things like that, that's going to be important as well.

On how Law's presence helps Lowery…

I think Ty coming in can be a really positive thing for a player like Dwight, or any of the young players. He's been through all of the cycles. He's played a long time. He's had good games, he's had bad games. He's been in all of the different situations — Super Bowls, playoff games, big games and all of those things that you go through throughout the course of a career.

With veteran guys, to be able to talk to them and ask them, "How did you deal with those issues" and "How did you deal with what I'm facing now?", to get that feedback can be really positive. You can learn from their mistakes.

On who will kick at Tennessee…

We haven't made a decision. We kick both guys throughout the course of practice. I think Mike [Nugent] each week gets a little bit better with the speed of his field goals, those increase, and the kickoffs, there's more consistency there. It's such a unique injury situation. He was injured the first week of the season. He's coming back and Jay [Feely] has kicked really well. I think we have a good kicking situation and I'll make a decision at the end of the week.

On if they will have a kick-off at practice…

Like a dance-off [laughter]? No, not necessarily. You have the kickoff team work that we do, so they get reps there. Even the show team, when it's kickoff return, they're kicking there. You have the different field goals, extra points, things like that.

It's cumulative. Some of it is based on the handling time of the field goal operation. It's very important how quickly you get the ball off. Some of it is where we're trying to place the football on kickoffs and who's better at the placement of where we want it to go. But I like the dance-off, kick-off thing [smiles].

On the Jets' pass defense…

I think pass defense is coordinated. There were multiple opportunities [against New England] where the quarterback was able to step up in the pocket or get out of the pocket. That puts a lot more pressure on the secondary. That's an area that we have to improve.

I think also with the coverage, we can make a lot of strides there as well. It's not just the DBs alone or the linebackers alone. It's the two groups, together, improving. Whenever you get into a game when you're ahead, usually the passing yards will increase because the running game really becomes a non-factor.

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