Transcript of Jets head coach Eric Mangini's news conference before Wednesday's midday practice:
We released Kyle DeVan from the practice squad. We place Ropati Pitoitua on the reserved injured/practice squad and signed guard Ryan Keenan and defensive lineman Brian Schaefering. Erik Ainge is back from his hiatus.
I told the team this morning that Seattle is a very similar situation to what we saw from San Francisco in terms of if you look at their numbers it says one thing, but if you look at what they've been doing over the last month, it's totally different. That was the case with San Francisco as well. They had radically changed things. It was a different approach, style and a different level of turnovers. It was not what the numbers may have indicated. That's the importance of disregarding that stuff and just seeing what you see on tape.
Offensively, Seneca Wallace is a very elusive player. He will do a lot of things in terms of his scramble pattern. He'll make a lot of things happen with his feet. He's been very good protecting the football. He has eight touchdowns and one interception. That's been a dramatic turnaround for them. He's able to create plays with his feet whether he's dropping back or if they're actually designed plays to move the pocket which they do quite a bit.
They have very good running backs. Their team average is significant. They're able to press you on the edge and in the middle with the way that they stretch you in the running game.
I know Deion Branch the best from any of these receivers — just knowing how talented Deion is and the different types of plays that he can make. He had one against New England when Seneca scrambled out and dumped it to him for 3 yards. He ended up going for 63. That is Deion. That is classic Deion Branch.
[John] Carlson has been playing very well at the tight end spot for such a young guy.
Defensively, it has transitioned to more of a pressure-based package. It's different each game, but it's substantially more than it has been. They've been very successful with it. They compliment that with a really good group of players. They play at a very high tempo early, but you don't see a significant drop-off through the course of the game. They have a lot of hats to the ball and good pursuit. That creates some opportunities in terms of turnovers or plays down the field.
On teams, this return group has the most big-play returns in the NFL. If you look at it from a kickoff-return perspective, it's eight returns of plus-40. That's what we're facing there in terms of their coverage. [Olindo] Mare, it's hit-or-miss as to whether you are going to have a chance to return the ball because he has kicked so many deep into the end zone. They've blocked two field goals as well.
The numbers are the numbers, but what's on tape is a much better indication of how they're playing. Similar to San Francisco, they've lost a lot of close games, especially at home — three, three and six [-point losses]. They were up on New England by 14 points early in the game. It took until 3:08 left in the fourth quarter before New England was able to regain the lead and that was with a fourth-down conversion for a touchdown.
On if it is difficult to convince the Jets that a team with a losing record is still a really good team…
It shouldn't be in that room. It's not really selling — it's the truth. All they have to do is put on the tape. Just like with San Francisco. It is what it is. If it doesn't sink in, in terms of what's being said verbally, once you see what's on tape, it's very apparent.
On if the Jets considered having two sets of West Coast trips back-to-back so they could stay on the West Coast…
I personally talked to a lot of head coaches who made the East Coast-to-West Coast trip and the West Coast-to-East Coast trip and everybody had different ways of doing it. As we analyzed all the different games based on that geography, it was about 50-50 win-loss.
There wasn't one formula that stood out and said "Teams that go out two days early have been really successful. Teams that have stayed out there have been really successful. Teams that have gone a day before have been really successful." It was hit-or-miss. It really came down to how well you played once you got there.
On if the Jets requested from the NFL office that any two of their West Coast games be scheduled back-to-back…
We looked at all those things, but we didn't specifically request that.
On if the Jets could have requested having their West Coast games spread out a few weeks apart…
You can request anything you want and I'm sure they review it.
On his reaction to the Jets' seven Pro Bowl selections…
I was really happy for them. It reinforces what we've been talking about for awhile. It's a good group of people and players. The fact that we had the group that was selected as well as the volume of alternates we had just reinforces that fact. It also reinforces that if we control the things that we do then good things will happen. It is recognized outside of our room that we have a good group of players. I was pleased for them, us and for the fact that it reinforces what's been said over and over.
What really made me happy was when I called each guy, they were pleased with it, but they talked about the other guys. There wasn't one guy that didn't mention "The offensive line has done a great job" or "T-Rich [Tony Richardson] has done a great job." It was all about their accomplishment in the context of the guys they work with. Then it was, 'this is great, but we have to move on to Seattle.' It made me feel like a proud parent [smiles].
On if it's a coincidence that the Jets have not played their best football on the West Coast…
I couldn't spend any more time on this than I had prior to the trips, before each trip, the research by our strength coach, trainers, doctors and contacting experts. You have to play. I don't care where we go. We have to play. If there is some routine that didn't work last time, then they can change it up personally.
On if the team will change its routine for the Seattle trip…
On what changes the team will make…
We will change some different things with the itinerary, but we've changed it on different trips. There have been switches here and there. There is no magic pill to playing well on the West Coast. It's practicing well, going out there, being focused and executing on gameday. That's what it comes down to.
On why it would be difficult to change the team's departure using a charter flight…
Feel free to ask the airline.
On if he'd want to depart for Seattle on Saturday…
We definitely researched that as well. We've researched our research.
On if he wanted to change the departure for Seattle from Friday to Saturday…
I wanted to see what the options were and that wasn't an option.
On if the Jets were blitzing more earlier in the season…
There were almost as many sacks in three-man rushes as there were in pressures. You would think that wouldn't be the case, but that's another function of the coverage being really good down the field. When you drop eight, the holes are a lot smaller.
We had quite a few sacks. The one against Arizona, right before the half was a three-man rush. The sacks we had against Cincinnati, that was a three-man rush. There were quite a few of those. Regardless of what we're playing on the back end, there is a substantial number there.
It's not like there was an overwhelming number on the pressure and none on the three-man or four-man. It's been pretty balanced over the course of the rushes. Two of them [against Buffalo] were four-man rushes. One was a pressure. We've had some that we missed. Denver, we had some good opportunities. We had some good opportunities against San Francisco. We had a guy clean and the quarterback was able to get out.
On if he is pleased with the team's blitzing.,,
I'm not afraid to blitz. I've always enjoyed blitzing. But to me it's got to be calculated, it's got to be for a specific purpose, and it's got to be sound. All those things are really important.
You've seen some games where we've blitzed 60 times and some games where we haven't blitzed at all. There's usually good reason for that — what they're doing against the blitz, what the matchups are, what the risk reward is.
When we played Miami, when I was a coordinator [at New England], there was a play I had and we blitzed. Hit a touchdown on it. It was on the 20-yard line and we thought it was going to hit. It hit. Troy [Brown] was on him. There are some other ones last week, where you blitz and you get the sack. Chicago, I remember giving up a 60-yard touchdown my first year. That was a max pressure.
You hit some, but in the words of Buddy Ryan, 'somebody's band is going to play, ours or theirs.'
On if having seven players selected to the Pro Bowl puts more pressure on him as a coach to win…
It's right on down the line — free agents, Brett Favre, new facility, Tom Brady going down, points in the season. That question consistently gets asked.
The only pressure I feel is to give the players the best plan to win each week. There are so many things that go on externally. There are so many perceptions and discussions about different situations. That is not the focal point. The focal point is trying to get our guys to play the best that they can.
On how he handles the negative media pressure…
I don't spend a lot of time on it. It changes so dramatically. You get a nickname one year, then you can get a revised nickname the next year [smiles]. You see them both. Some are nice, some are not nice. My mom is probably more affected by that then I am, but she's done a good job of not reading the things that may upset a mom.
For me, it's a part of what happens. I respect the fact that everybody has an opinion on the way things should go or what should be done. That's what makes it great – the fan interest and the excitement. It's part of what we do.
On if he likes the position the Jets are in right now…
I like the fact that we control what happens. This late in the season, what you always want to do is control the things that happen and not have to think, "If we do this and team X and team Y and team Z do the following, then this happens."
It's always about the ability to control your own destiny and create whatever you want to create. Write whatever story you want to write. It's so important that everybody understands that. It's nothing new. I believe that every single day we get to make choices. If we make the right choices, then collectively good things will happen. You can't come in and chose to work really hard one day and chose to take off the next day and relax. It doesn't work like that. It's consistency. The more that you have that, the more that everybody does the right things each day, you completely control what happens.
On if there is anxiety in the building…
We haven't gone out and purchased a bunch of Zoloft [laughter]. No, guys are excited. They enjoy the fact that we are where we are at this point in the season. It's just a great opportunity. Now we've just got to seize the opportunity.
On if he ever does any "scoreboard-watching"...
No. There are plenty of things to look at on our field and not worry about that. It really doesn't matter what they do. It doesn't matter what the Patriots do. It doesn't really matter what Pittsburgh or Baltimore does. It matters what we do. Just take care of things we have to take care of, focus on that stuff and everything else will take care of itself.
On the players selected to the Pro Bowl…
With Leon [Washington], the journey he took I think is fantastic. I know I've cited his minicamp debacle many times. We rode him hard. He responded and made a decision: "I'm not going to let you put me up on the big screen every single day like you have been."
That translated into eventually becoming a core contributor on special teams, a contributor on offense, an explosive player, team MVP. Then he gets voted captain. Then he goes to the Pro Bowl. From where he started to where he is now, it's incredible. There are a lot of things that he went through as a young guy that he had to really fight through. He just made a decision as to how it was going to go.
Nick Mangold has done a really good job since the first day he's gotten here. Kris Jenkins helped him. He has to deal with Jenkins every single day. He should be voted to some other bowl just for that. His work is being recognized.
Thomas Jones had a tough year last year. He scored one touchdown. Now he's broken team records and is being recognized. That's fantastic.
[Brett] Favre has the same number of Pro Bowl appearances as Johnny Unitas. Their rookie years weren't that much different. Now they're equal there.
Jenkins came in with some questions, and he's answered every question. He's been a great team player. He's played with discipline, technique, and made the Pro Bowl in a totally new system. It keeps going.
Darrelle Revis has been so consistent at practice and he's done extremely well. It would be very easy for a young guy with that much success to go into a sophomore slump, and he hasn't.
Faneca [has eight Pro Bowl appearances] in a row. He's helped us not just in terms of his performance but the way that he's helped the group, his leadership, his approach — just a huge asset on so many different levels.
Even 'Brick [D'Brickashaw Ferguson] being named an alternate. There's a guy who made a conscious decision in the off-season about how he was going to be in the weightroom. He just decided. He made that decision. Now that decision is being recognized.