Coach's Wednesday News Conference

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

Our players of the game, offensively it was Leon Washington, defensively it was Abe Elam and on special teams it was Marques Murrell. Our practice player of the week was Brett Ratliff.

Today, we covered the game from last week a little bit, then quickly moved on to Denver. With Denver, I think the one thing that stands out with this team, like it always has, is that they're very game-plan-specific, offensively and defensively. Similar to some of the other game-plan-specific teams that we face, it's not necessarily what you see on the last four tapes, it's how they view you and how they view how they can best attack you, how they can best minimize your strengths and how they can best maximize their strengths. That's pretty consistent with Mike Shanahan's teams.

The other thing that's consistent is, offensively, they've been extremely explosive. They have a lot of playmakers in terms of their receivers and tight ends. I think that with their running game, multiple backs have been put in there. That's been true over the years, and they still average 4.4 yards a carry. It makes it really challenging. Jay Cutler, knowing him from the draft process and watching him, I think he gets better and better each year.

Defensively, it's similar to what we faced last week in terms of a defense that can penetrate, can run through, has a lot of speed and has the ability to bring different people from different spots. They had the six sacks against New England. Part of that was tying into the game-plan-specific approach that they had versus the Patriots that game. They played a different front than they played against anybody else in that game.

Then on teams, I worked with Scott O'Brien in Cleveland. He was actually the guy that I got to coach for first, in terms of on-the-field stuff. I think he's outstanding, one of the best in the league, and he consistently creates problems for people.

On Shanahan's staple to running the offense…

The running game has been fairly consistent over the years in terms of the types of runs that they use or the style of running game. Its effectiveness has been consistent over the years as well. I'd say the other parts, how they're going to attack you in the passing game and what they're going to do there, that's all determined by the opponent.

On Denver's game-plan-specific approach and not playing them since coaching the Jets…

I think anytime that you have a team that is going to design things specifically for you based off of the things that you've done and how they anticipate wanting to play the game, that makes it a little bit more challenging because there is some guessing element, as to what the approach is going to be. I've seen the full gamut. I played them one time and it was 50-plus reps of empty. Another time was heavy, big people, and then bunches and stacks at other times. It's been right on down the line.

On QB Jay Cutler…

He has a very good arm. He's excellent with his feet, so he can create a lot of plays. They're not all just scramble plays. They're plays where he moves around the pocket and buys time. He's very confident with his ability to get the football into tight spots and will take some of those chances. I think he has an excellent group of skill players.

On if looking at how they both played a common opponent such as Oakland helps the preparation process…

No.

On his impressions of Cutler during the draft process…

He was impressive. We met with him for dinner initially, and then went back to the classroom. We had sent him some information. He had to study that information and he had very good recall. He was a really down-to-earth guy. With the success that he had at Vandy, he still had an excellent approach, understood the process and had it all in perspective.

On if he's been surprised by Cutler's easy adjustment to the NFL…

No, I'm not surprised. I think he won a lot of games at Vandy compared to what they had won in the recent past, so comparatively, he won a lot of games. They didn't necessarily win a lot of games overall. I'm not surprised that he has had the success he's had. He is a very smart person. He's conscientious. Usually when you have those things going for you, you continue to make progress.

On Cutler's arm strength…

He can get the ball deep. The other thing is he can get the ball deep on the run. He doesn't have to have his feet set to throw it down the field. There are a lot of plays like that on tape, where he's moving out of the pocket and avoids the rush, the receiver gives a little bit of a move, the play goes a little longer than you want it to, and he gets it deep.

On LB Vernon Gholston…

I thought this was probably his best game, defensively. He did a good job on special teams again. It was his best game defensively in terms of what we're asking him to do with setting the edge, being stout against the run and the things that he did with the pass rush. He didn't get an overwhelming amount of opportunities, but the opportunities that he did get I thought he did a good job with.

On Gholston's progression since training camp…

I think he has made a lot of progress. He has played most consistently on special teams, and he's improved the most in that area. Defensively, it's still a work in progress. What's different here than maybe some other places he could have gone is we change every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. It's not the same exact plays. It's not the same defenses or the same calls.

You really have to get used to that as a player. I think there was a significant amount of game-planning at Ohio State, but he was an end as opposed to a linebacker. That tends to be a different volume of information.

On if the position change has impacted the rate of Gholston's development…

Each guy is different. There is a lot from going with your hand in the dirt to standing up, and then standing up and having a different approach each week. That really takes some getting used to. Once you get used to that approach, then usually the Wednesdays flow a lot better than they do initially. Most places you just are running this, run this, or run this. They're all things that you've repped a thousand times in training camp.

On if this was an anticipated timeline for Gholston…

Yes. You don't go into it saying "He has to play by this time, he has to do this by this time." Each person, in my experience, has been different. When it really hits you, you don't know when that's going to be.

I was talking to JoJo Wooden [assistant director, player personnel] yesterday and he was just talking about his time at Syracuse where he said it was like an individual period, at the end of his redshirt freshman year, when things finally started clicking. He said he remembers the moment when he finally started getting it. I think everybody has that moment where, like I said, the clouds kind of drift away, the sun comes out and you can start just playing.

On if Willie McGinest had a similar evolution at New England…

Yes, I think Willie is a good example. I think Rosevelt Colvin, when he initially came from Chicago, going from his hand in the dirt to standing up, and then all the things that went into it. Then as he built up the reps and learned more and more, he became much more comfortable and played at a much faster level.

Even Tedy Bruschi, I think his first year going from really playing a lot of middle linebacker, it wasn't significant production, it wasn't bad. Just in terms of where he is now and where he's been over the years versus that first year, it was a pretty big jump.

On LB Eric Barton…

He's done a great job. Eric started calling the signals when Jon [Vilma] got hurt last year. That part of it has been consistent. What's changed is he's played a lot more on third down than he had. David [Harris] had been playing that role.

What I like about Eric is things come very quickly to him. The information and the tips that you give him — his recall is excellent. He can go from a Wednesday meeting, where you may have installed seven defenses, and then had your top-10 list of things to look out for, formation alerts, and he's usually rattling those off on Wednesday.

He'll get frustrated if P-and-10 is a heavy-stretch run down and you throw a shot. He's like "Hey, that's not what you told us." He knows. Or he'll be frustrated with a show-team guard: "You're not going to block it like this, you have to do this." He's coaching them up. It's not malice, it's just "This is the look that we need.'

On Denver's consistent running game and if teams try to mimic it…

A lot of teams do mimic it. A significant amount of teams do that — Tennessee, Atlanta, those are two. Most teams have elements of that running game in their system. It's what they do, and they do it very well. They coach it all the time. The backs understand it. It's very specific reads and cuts for the backs, pass for the linemen. Offensive line coaches from that system are usually in high demand and are well-compensated.

On the Jets' secondary…

I think it continues to evolve. What I like about it is that we have some flexibility now where we can play guys at different spots. We can do some different things that maybe we haven't been able to do. It can continue to improve.

With the secondary, as important as the coverage element is, it's just equally as important to have the pass rush coordinated, especially against a guy like Cutler who can buy time. You're on that time clock as a corner, and now all that stuff breaks down and you're in your scramble roles. Usually good things happen to the offense in that situation, not the defense.

On if WR Brandon Marshall is comparable to another wideout the Jets have played this year…

He's really good. I'd say Randy Moss. He's big — 6'4½", 230. He has excellent hands. He has really good run-after-catch. He's strong. He can run the full complement of routes, short or deep, with good speed. He's really good.

On assistant head coach/offensive line Bill Callahan…

Mike [Tannenbaum] initially brought up the concept of interviewing Bill. I didn't know him personally at all. When I was able to sit down with him, his level of understanding of the offensive line play is outstanding. His ability to teach from a technical standpoint is outstanding.

What I liked even more than that is he understands the big picture. He has been a coordinator in pro football. He's been a head coach in pro football and a head coach in college football. He's able to give the offensive line a deeper understanding because he can explain "Look, this is a five-step drop, we're trying to get the ball here, and if there's pressure, he's going to move this way." It's all the stuff you look for in an offensive line coach.

Then, it's deeper than that because he understands the whole offense — sights, hots, run/pass checks, everything. He has a great understanding of that.

On if QB Brett Favre and OC Brian Schottenheimer have established a connection over the last few weeks…

I don't think there was ever a disconnect at all. I think that it's like any other relationship, as you spend more time with someone, you start to see more and more of their work in the system, and that person gets to work more in the system. The relationship grows. It is a collaborative process each week, Brett working with the receivers and the feedback from the players.

Everybody is trying and striving for the same goal which is to be as effective as possible. I really like the dialogue that they have in the room. There's not any sense of "Hey, this is the best play in the world, we have to run the play this way." It's much more of "This is what we think will work." The players look at it. We solicit their feedback, and then we move forward with what we collectively think is the best plan.

On the learning process for the coaching staff when acquiring a Hall of Fame QB during training camp…

I checked the handbook. You're right, there wasn't anything there. Usually it's a rookie or free agent quarterback in the middle of training camp [laughter].

There are so many different people that have come into the organization this year and have come into the team this year. Everybody grows and learns. The more reps you have together and the more time you spend together, the more you see how each other works and understand that, then you have a real chance to make progress.

What I'm happiest with, with the group, is the consistent work ethic. It's something that we always talk about. Every Wednesday is the same, every Thursday is the same and every Friday is the same. Not just the same approach but also the ability to be honest with what's not very good, and then going and doing something about it.

On injury updates…

Eric [Smith] will practice. David Harris will practice some. Both of those guys will be out there.

On K Mike Nugent…

He's practicing as well, so he'll kick today. He's been kicking for a few weeks now.

On if he has to fight the perception that bad things happen to the Jets…

Again, I've been happy with their approach, but also their mindset after each game. Whether it's been win or lose, there hasn't been a sense of "Here we go again" if it was a loss, or a sense of "OK, we've arrived" if it was a win. It's been very much a sense of "All right, who is the next opponent and what do we have to do to beat them?"

What we all understand is that it's a five-game season. That's over a quarter of the season left. There's so much that can happen over the course of that time. If anything changes in terms of our approach or outlook or getting caught up with anything external, it's not going to be very productive and it's not going to be very good.

On K Jay Feely…

I think Jay has done an outstanding job. He kicked that really huge kick against Oakland to push us into overtime. He had the overtime kick against New England. I think he has done well with his kickoffs. I thought last week he did a really nice job.

I think the Titans were the third-best kickoff-return team in the NFL. We kicked off seven times and his ball placement was as important as anything else on those kickoffs. He put them in the right spot based on where we wanted to go with the coverage. We were able to hold that team to about 18.6 yards. That's an accomplishment. He was a big part of that accomplishment.

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