Coach's Monday News Conference

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Transcript of Jets head coach Eric Mangini's news conference Monday afternoon:    

What I really liked about the game yesterday was the team's play in the second half. Tennessee has been outscoring people, 127-54, in the second half. It's been a real strength of theirs and for us to be able to go out, do the things we did in the second half and score the points we scored in the second half, I thought that was outstanding.

Overall, the time of possession was a big factor in the game and our ability to run the ball offensively the way that we did and defensively stop their run which was key.

Defensively, what has been a point of emphasis for us is our ability to hold the opponent after a sudden change. We had two where they didn't get points and also our production at the start of the second half, which has been another area that we could do a lot better at and did yesterday.

On special teams the most significant thing we had going for us was that kicking off to that group seven times and holding them to an 18.6-yard average, when they're the third-leading return team in the NFL, was really good. A lot of the young guys that we have playing now were a big reason for that. [Jason] Trusnik, [Marques] Murrell and James Ihedigbo, those guys have been able to come in, carve out a role and now are expanding that role and being productive for us.

On how the Jets practice scoring on opening drives…

We mix it into practice where we'll go from stretch to Green vs. White at the start of the game and actually have a kickoff. The ball goes wherever it goes. The offense starts the drive. We let the players call those plays, both offensively and defensively. It's just to get that feeling of going from relative inactivity, stretch, to a competitive activity.

It gets really competitive because they're calling it. It's got that feel to it. I'm not sure whether that's a direct correlation or not, but I think it does help to get used to that transition from really a stretch and some warmups to going out there and being ready to play.

On when the team practices opening drives…

We've been doing it usually on Wednesdays and then sometimes at the start of the second half, right in the middle of practice. It doesn't matter what period is to follow or what period we did before, we'll just have a kickoff and start the second half. It's competitive, Green vs. White.

Whatever happens, happens. If it's three-and-out, they go three-and-out. If it's a 10-play drive, it's a 10-play drive. The punt team is ready, the field goal team is ready. We just play it out. It's just one series. Start of the second half for Green and start of the second half for White. Whatever happens, happens.

On if the team runs the actual plays scripted for the game…

Usually that's what they end up calling because that's what's at the forefront of their mind, but I don't put any parameters on it.

On how much impact scoring on the opening drive has on a game…

It's great. It gives you a chance to gain some momentum. Especially when you're playing on the road, to be able to come out and score right away and quiet the crowd a little bit as you move into the first part of the game, it's always positive. What you don't want to do is fumble the kickoff, be on the 10-yard line, go three-and-out and punt from backed up. Now it's a real momentum swing for them. They [the Titans] have done a great job against teams on the first drive of the game.

On how comfortable he is with QB Brett Favre calling audibles…

He's done that for the longest time in Green Bay. It's really hard defensively. You may be playing a certain formation that's been heavy, heavy run, 80 percent run. So you come down and you load up the box, corner gets off, the quarterback looks out, sees the corner off, throws a slant. It kills tendencies and it takes advantage of what you're giving them.

On if Favre becoming more familiar with the playbook has changed how comfortable he is with Favre calling audibles now as opposed to at the beginning of the season…

He did that the very first practice he was here. The very first practice he was here, we had a run called. Pulled up, whipped it to LC [Laveranues Coles] and it went for 30. It really hasn't stopped.

On if he has been able to enjoy the recent success of the team…

I enjoyed it last night. Julie kept the boys up. We hung out a little bit when I got home. That's usually the time where I do that and appreciate that day and the work that we've put in through the week. I wake up the next day and transition back.

On if the confidence of the team is at an all-time high…

As a group, collectively, we've felt pretty strongly about our ability to play throughout the course of the season. What has gotten better and better as we've gone on is our practice tempo has gotten very consistent and our preparation has gotten very consistent. Guys are playing different roles. They understand their roles. They embrace their roles. It's that sense of truly understanding what you have to do to be prepared each week. When you're prepared, that preparation breeds confidence.

On if he feels there's danger of a letdown…

I can't imagine that anybody would have that approach. Those are games we got ready for. Those are games that were obviously important, but the one thing that we consistently talk about is each win allows the next game to be that much more important. What we've done to this point is we've won eight games. That's really where we're at.

On if it's different preparing for Denver as opposed to New England or Tennessee...

It's not different for me. I don't think it's going to be different for those guys either. There are five games left in the season. It's a five-game season. Every game becomes that much more important. It's going to be another case of watching Denver on tape where offensively, almost in every category, they're in the top five, top 10. They've caused problems for a lot of people.

I don't think that anybody in the room is satisfied with what we've done to this point. It's nice, but I anticipate us coming back on Wednesday and being ready to work like we've been working.

On S Abram Elam…

Abe did a great job yesterday. He had some outstanding tackles. There's one on their sideline, the flat against Chris Johnson, who is really elusive in space. He made a great play there. The strip that he had, their backs hadn't fumbled to this point, and they'd gotten a lot of carries. That was him consciously going in, finding the ball and getting it out. It was a big play, a turnover after a big run. Now the offense is able to go in and generate some points. He had a strip sack against the Rams.

He's a good person. He works the same way since the day he arrived here. When he gets these opportunities, he's taken advantage of them, which is what you really look for.

On if the defense is as technically sound as he has seen it during his time as head coach…

We've made a lot of progress in areas. We've worked a lot of people in different spots in the secondary. There's different learning each week based on matchups. That can continue to improve. I'd be looking for a few less catches. I'm always pleased when the catch doesn't go for very many more yards, but I'd like to continue to improve the completion percentage.

On if he has a sense of the buzz about the Jets and Giants performing so well…

I haven't really been out. Last weekend I went to a cocktail party for Jake's preschool that Julie had me go to. Great event [smiles]. We didn't really talk football when I was there. It was more of getting to know the parents. Outside of that, I just don't go anywhere. Here, home, the bus, the hotel, here, home.

On people talking about a Jets-Giants Super Bowl…

I guess I look at it totally different. I look at it as a five-game season and the next team. I know that's not flashy or exciting or any of those things. It's a long time to go before the end of the season. It's over a quarter of the season still left to play. So many things can happen. I've been part of all those different scenarios over the course of my career. The most important thing to me is us improving.

I'm happy for the Giants. I haven't gotten to see very many of their games, but it's really all Jets all the time.

On if he feels S Eric Smith played too soon after his first concussion...

With all injuries, we follow the same process. We always put the player's safety first. That's not going to change. Eric continues to make progress. Whether it's his injury or anybody else's, we're not going to push the players back in before we think they're absolutely healthy.

It's the same with Mike [Nugent], David Harris, Bubba Franks and all those guys. I'm very confident in our medical staff and the things that they do. We've worked hard in the process of constantly improving that department and being as sound as we can be and trying to be the best in the NFL, ideally in all of sports.

On if he feels Smith's recovery was managed properly…

We've gone through all the steps that we had in place, and we continue to work through those steps. Eric's making progress. We're hoping to see more of him here this week and maybe into the weekend.

On the common themes going into the free agency and trading period…

I can give you six: smart, tough, hard-working, competitive, selfless, and guys that football's important to. It's literally been up in the free agent room and the draft room since the early time that I was here. Mike [Tannenbaum] and I identified those characteristics that we call our core characteristics. Talking to scouts and talking to pro scouts, it's always "Tell me about the person and then you can tell me about the player."

I drive Mike crazy because he'll say, "We have this corner we want to work out. He's 5'11", 195." My question is "Well, what's he like? Tell me about him. What's he like?" That to me is crucial. I want to know what kind of person we're bringing in this locker room and what we can anticipate from that person. When you know those things, then the other things come into play.

On how happy he is with the players they have brought in…

I've been really happy with the group that we've brought in. I feel like it hasn't been a mistake because we've proactively searched those things out and been very thorough. The scouts do a good job and everybody plays a part. You may know somebody that worked with them. There's always someone that can give you some information or give you some insight. You try to get that insight.

How is he going to be in practice? How is he going to be in the meeting rooms? What's he like with the younger players? What's his finish like? How well does he grasp information? Is he a reps learner? Does he learn from the board? Is he more of a visual learner? Has there been any off-the-field issues? Is there anything else that we need to know before making him a part of this team?

On if he will use the Oakland game as a learning tool...

Every week there's plenty of examples of one team that's highly favored over another team and the other team wins. Every team that we play is talented. It doesn't take very many mistakes to dramatically change advantages that you may have or emphasize strengths that they have. I've been part of those, too, where you may go into the game feeling very good about your matchups and come out of the game shaking your head.

On if he will use the Raiders game as the lowest point in the season and show the team how far they've come…

I don't think I'll specifically point to that game. There have been a lot of examples since I've been here as the head coach. There are a lot of examples of times where we played up to our potential in games, whether we've won the game or not won the game, and times where we haven't.

There's a direct correlation between executing the game plan, the way that we practice, all those things that we talk about. There's so much material, so much information, so much reinforcement that's the truth and I feel pretty good about.

On the offensive line…

They did a great job. I've been happy with them since camp. That was incredibly challenging: a very aggressive front seven, but eight because there was a safety in the box all the time. To be able to run the football against that group, to be able to hold up against those two pass rushers, one being a larger interior guy [Albert Haynesworth], one being a high-motor edge guy [Kyle Vanden Bosch], and both of them usually being on the same side, that's tough.

They have other guys that rotate through that cause problems, as well. Then they bring some safety blitzes, they bring some linebacker blitzes, a lot of stuff that we had to do and identify and do it quickly in order to move the football.

On if he has been impressed with Favre managing the long scoring drives…

He's done an outstanding job, but the whole group has. It's been a lot of different ways that we've converted those third downs. Some have been runs, some have been screens, some have been longer passes. He's done a really good job with getting the group to have those prolonged drives and multiple prolonged drives.

It's great for the defense. It gives them a chance to take a break. Any time you keep the other team's offense off the field, it's a positive.

On if he's been surprised that Favre has been able to function so well in the long drives…

I don't remember looking at it thinking that it was not a strength of his prior to him coming here. I remember playing against him where he had multiple sustained drives in Green Bay. I never thought of it as all quick-strike type of offense.

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