Coach's Thursday News Conference

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

I thought yesterday was a good opportunity to get outside in the elements. We've played in Buffalo so many times where the weather report says one thing and something dramatically different happens.

I remember one game, it was in 2000 — ridiculous wind, ridiculous snow and it came down to field goals. We blocked one, they blocked one, I think we blocked another one and finally got another one in. There are just dramatic shifts.

And being able to have a little sleet to start yesterday, it was cold, and all of those things are things that we have to get adjusted to. I know the fellas lobbied pretty hard, seeing that we have such a beautiful indoor facility, and we will get there at some point, just not right now.

Today, the other thing we have in terms of our work — they are a very good team defensively on third down. That's an area we have been putting emphasis on both sides of the ball, but especially offensively. We were really good at third downs our first year here, we kind of took a little bit of a step back last year, and I think we're making good progress this year.

It's just so important to be able to continue those drives, keep their defense on the field, our defense off the field and also be able to get off the field on third down defensively. Like I said, we've made some strides here and look to continue to improve there.

On if he has any injury updates…

No, not really. It's going to be status quo here probably through the end of the week. Hopefully we'll be able to do something on the field with either David Harris or Bubba [Franks] as we move forward.

The one thing I forgot to mention: Damien [Woody] is excused again today for personal reasons.

On if Woody will play on Sunday…

Yes, he'll definitely play on Sunday. He's staying in touch with obviously me and his coaches. He's able to watch practice through the system that we have in place. When he does get back, which should be this evening, we'll spend a lot of extra time with him to get him caught up.

On why Woody is absent…

He really just wants to leave it as a personal reason. He's fine. There's nothing physically wrong with him.

On whether the run or pass is more important, given Buffalo's unpredictable weather...

The balance — that's what we are getting to the last few weeks. We've been talking about the running game. That will become more and more important as the year goes on. Even at our stadium with the wind shifts, one quarter you have a great wind, the next quarter you are fighting against the wind.

Being able to go in and out of both those things, even in the passing game, being able to throw the passes that are effective in higher winds and really in the kicking game, the way that you have to punt the ball and the way that you have to kick field goals is totally different. It's so hard to simulate that stuff. That's why you want to go outside when you can to get those conditions.

On if Leon Washington's punt-returning success is due more to scheme or athletic ability…

I would say it's elements of both. That's an area where Leon has really made a ton of strides. He was an effective kickoff returner very early on. The punt returns were slower to come, and now he has a good feel for that. I think, as a group, we've gotten better at that. There was a shot there in the Kansas City game where we actually had a chance to block the punt and he still got a good return.

It's good to be able to have that balance of rushing, where you're not going to have as many guys back and Leon is really going to have to make one or two guys miss to get going, then where you're setting up a return you can do some things there, Leon is reading the blocks and setting up the blocks. I think he's made great strides individually, and I think we made some improvements as a group.

On Washington's improvement as a punt returner…

I think he has a better feel for where the pressure is going to come. It's totally different from kickoff return, because you get to catch that ball clean. On kickoff returns, there is never, or very, very rarely is there ever anybody around your face. Then, you know where the return is going and you have a sense of, if it breaks down, where you have to go.

On punt returns, you're counting on the outside guys, the hold-up guys, to give you a chance to catch the ball. I think it was his long return where he caught it, made the guy miss that was right on his heels, and then we were able to get the return going. Usually, you're going to have to make the first guy miss. That's usually the returner's guy.

On if he is concerned that the defense has had only one takeaway in the last three games…

It's like any other stat. The emphasis isn't the statistic. It's the process of getting those turnovers. We had the four sacks. Usually when you pressure the quarterback or bring the quarterback down four times, those are great opportunities to get turnovers because he's looking down the field and quarterbacks tend not to have the best ball security. They hold it away from their body and up in their chest. Those are really good opportunities.

I thought we had a great chance there on the flat route right towards the end of the half before they hit the draw, where Drew Coleman cut underneath the out-cut and we didn't convert on that. We spent some extra time yesterday working on the JUGS machine and emphasizing to the defensive backs the technique of catching the ball, thumbs together, looking it into the tuck and all of the things that go along with that step before you even worry about running with the football.

It's been a heavy emphasis on ball awareness, understanding where the ball is going to be, pressuring the football, being able to convert on those catches, as opposed to "Hey, we've got to get a lot of turnovers.'

On the focus of neutralizing the offense versus trying to force turnovers…

It's a little bit of both, but one of those sacks came on a three-man rush. We got the sack at the end of the first half against Arizona, that was a three-man rush and [David] Bowens just did a really nice job of finding the football, stripping it out and then recovering it.

You are going to get chances in all different areas. Some are going to come on blitzes and some are going to come on three-man rushes, but it's understanding where the ball is. Darrelle [Revis] had a great play yesterday in practice where he ended up giving up the reception, but he finished the play and came in and really grabbed the point of the football and ripped it out. That's the type of thing that you have to do.

I thought Kansas City was excellent at that where they would go in, make the tackle, find the football and then pressure the football. There are different ways that you can do it. Usually, if the ballcarrier is not protecting the tip of the ball, you want to punch down on it so that it pops up. If he's holding it like this [puts arms to side] so the tip is protected and the back isn't, that's when you want to punch through it. It's understanding that part, which is a split-second thing, and how you need to pressure to get it out.

On why Shaun Ellis has played so well…

Shaun is able to do some things that maybe he wasn't able to do as much last year, or even the year before. The other nice thing about Shaun is we can play him inside at the nose, or one of those tackles, or we could move him out to end which he does in sub, but he played I think it was close to 200 snaps at outside linebacker last year. Now, we can stand him up and do some things there.

They have to figure out how they want to count him. Do they want to keep him as a "big," as a defensive lineman? Is he an interior guy, is he an end or is he an outside linebacker? I think all of that stuff helps.

On Buffalo Bills QB Trent Edwards' improvements from playing against him last year…

That was his first career start, right? We get them all. We get all the first-career starts [laughter]. I thought he was poised in that game. To come in, and he really manages the game well. He reminds me of Chad [Pennington] that way in being very efficient at passing, he makes good decisions and gets them in and out of some plays where it's a problem and into a better play.

He has a lot of poise for a young guy. I remember thinking that even that first game there were some things that he was doing that were different. His patience, his ability to analyze things presnap and postsnap, I thought, was very good.

On if the players understand the importance of the Buffalo game…

We've definitely talked about the fact that if you want to move forward you have to win these division games. The Bills are not sneaking up on anybody. They are a very good team and have been extremely successful. We haven't been as successful against them in the last three games. They are undefeated at home. There are so many positive things that you can talk about there. I'd like to think that every game we go in with the same approach, and to me, that's what I'm always striving for.

On how he may be different from other coaches who have attempted coaching Brett Favre on the calculated risk and balance of gambling with passes…

That's a good question. He has worked with a lot of different coaches — Lombardi, Rockne, all of them [smiles]. Now it's me. They probably have a little stronger track record than me. It's not a function of trying to change who he is, and I think he makes a lot of great plays and a lot of great decisions. There are a lot of things where he gives you opportunities that you wouldn't have if someone else is throwing the football.

It's not trying to reinvent the wheel, it's just making sure that from a scheme perspective we are doing everything we can to maximize the positives, from an offensive line, wide receiver, and from Favre's perspective. It's not just focused on him, it's talking to the group and it's working with the coaches. It's a process and we are all working at the process.

On if coaching Favre requires a slight course correction for him every once in awhile…

Yes, there's some of that, but again, you don't want to coach a good player down. It's finding the balance and it's understanding the difference. Even on the pick late in the game in the red zone, we had run that same exact play earlier, Dustin [Keller] had come up and been able to pick the cover guy on Chansi [Stuckey], Chansi was able to get the rub and able to create that space.

It was a little bit different because the backside safety was driving down as opposed to going to the post. Just that element of exactly the same play, probably 30 plays apart, where one, we were able to get the rub on the No. 2 guy, and this one we didn't, which allowed the corner a more aggressive approach. Then it's saving the play afterwards. All of those things came into play on that one situation.

On G Brandon Moore…

Brandon has had a really good season. Brandon and I talked during training camp and I really liked the way that he took to heart the message that I was trying to get across to the group of "Go out and practice your weaknesses." It's OK to make mistakes when you're working on those weaknesses because that's the time to do it.

There's one week where there was a specific coaching point that Bill [Callahan] had made in the meeting, I was in the meeting, and I could see the next day Brandon working at it and Brandon working on it that whole week. When I talked to him about it, he said that's something that he has really, really tried to do all the time, making the transition he has made [from defensive line], not getting into a pattern of just focusing on his strengths but getting those other areas tightened up.

I see the progress. He's great with that group, and he and Damien [Woody] have a really good relationship over there on the right side. Talk about leadership, he's another guy that's a veteran guy and a great example. I don't mean to rant here, but talking to Stanley Daniels, [Moore] was one of the guys I pointed out: "Go talk to Brandon and see how he made the transition from D-line to O-line." That was one of the examples of guys I was talking about. That's not easy to do, and he's done it really well.

On if the number of high-profile injuries in the NFL has affected the AFC…

Anytime you have a situation where players like [Tom Brady and Shawne Merriman] go down, it definitely is a challenge for that team. You're trying to protect against those things on your own team, but that's the depth, giving guys reps in training camp and all of those things. That's why we emphasize it and I'm sure that's why they emphasize it as well.

On if there are more injuries now than 10 years ago…

I'd like to think that the equipment has continued to improve and that has helped the players. There has been a lot of emphasis on the surfaces we play on and trying to get the best surfaces in stadiums. Understanding the type of shoes that you need to wear, there has been a lot of work and the technology is pretty incredible. I think there has been a real concerted effort by teams, the league, the union and the players to maximize safety. I don't know what the trends are, in terms of the numbers, but I know that has been a driving force: player safety.

On if he has to anticipate injuries when creating the roster due to the salary cap…

This cap makes it tough and sometimes you lose guys in camp and they have a higher cap number so they count higher. Some of those decisions, they are tough decisions because you may like a guy, but because of their number and some of the things like that, those things come into play.

If an injury were to happen, you have to allocate money for replacing players with the anticipation that somebody is going to get injured, or it could be multiple people, but you need to have that fund to try to replace the guys that you lose. It's hard when you lose a guy, especially a guy who counts significantly against the salary cap. You don't get that cash back and you obviously lose an excellent player.

On if he registered to vote in New Jersey after the move from Long Island…

I'm supposed to be getting an absentee ballot. I haven't registered here, but I'm still registered in New York.

On if there is a benefit or downside to players talking about political candidates…

Probably not. My dad used to say "You shouldn't really talk about politics and religion." So I try to stay away from those two topics.

On majoring in political science…

I can study it, just not talk about it. Just like my press conferences [laughing].

On if Moore has flown under the radar…

He's been solid. His nickname is "Meat" because of how physical he is and how tough he is. I think it's very appropriate. I always used to joke that you don't rush a guy named Meat down the middle if you're trying to get an edge there. Rookies do it all the time. They go up against Brandon and try to rush him down the middle, Brandon kills them.

He's a good example, because for position changes, of a guy who has worked his way up and now has established himself as a good player. He continues to develop his leadership roles. He's been as important to that offensive line as anybody else.

On David Bowens' strengths other than bowling…

He didn't actually perform, though, when he had the chance in bowling, from what I remember [smiles]. I think his strength, or a really significant strength, is his intelligence. He understands everything that's going on and he's very savvy, as well. He has that veteran savvy that he can take a defense, understand what's happening, and then be able to anticipate the changes and attack the changes.

He's really what I think of when I think of the linebacker/end hybrid type, to be able to do both and then have that awareness, that intelligence and all of those other things to take advantage of opportunities in each area.

On his performance at the charity bowling event…

I didn't get his score. I know he came in with his own ball and his own shoes. I've golfed with a lot of guys who have the best, their putter is magical and all that, then they shoot as bad as I do. I don't know how he did.

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