With a four-week training camp, a massive cut day and two preseason victories behind him, Eric Mangini has hit the ground running in this, his first regular season week as an NFL head coach. On Monday, Mangini described how both this week and the following weeks will typically play out during his first season at the helm.
"What we'll be doing this week is different than your normal Monday," Mangini said. "There is less focus on the corrections of the Philly game. There is more focus on Tennessee - trying to get a jumpstart on some of their early down things and also getting the players good exposure to the Titans."
The word "focus" has been appeared frequently in the first chapter of Mangini's head coaching tale, and rightfully so.
"Talking to the team this morning, I gave the same recurring message that you guys have heard me say over and over again: The importance of just focusing; our focus is on Tennessee," he said. "That's really what all of our focus is on. That focus needs to translate into the classroom, the practice field and whatever segment we are working on.
It's not on Philadelphia. It's not on New England. It's not on anything besides our next opponent."
Known by his players for being straightforward and detail-oriented, Mangini talked of the importance of each match-up.
"We need them to focus on not only the game plan, but the game within the game - who they are going to be facing, and really understanding that person's strengths and weaknesses," Mangini said. "Those things are what they need to do in addition to the time that we spend on the core game plan and the information that we give them."
Players who display focus and preparation will succeed in the Mangini system. Each member of the roster was given a clean slate to present his abilities, and it's those who have caught on the quickest who have received the playing time and praise from Mangini.
One player who has excelled is rookie Leon Washington. The Florida State alum has impressed his first-year coach with electrifying bursts in special teams and Washington has proved to be capable to support the running attack. Washington credits a lot of his early radiance to his off-field work - and he has the materials to prove it.
"I've had a lot more notebooks in the couple months here than I had in college and that says a lot," Washington said, pointing into his locker where spiraled notebooks dominated an entire shelf. "Everything you learn - whether new guys or young guys - and anything you can do to help yourself on and off the field, you do."
Linebacker Jonathan Vilma is looking forward to facing a familiar face this weekend at Tennessee in former Jets center Kevin Mawae. "It's going to be interesting because even though we were in 'practice,' he'd find a way to get up to the linebacker. It was interesting. It will be a good battle," said Vilma. "The great thing about Kevin is he always came to practice. The holding he would do would get me ready for the games even though I hated it in practice."… Bobby Hamilton, the defensive lineman obtained from Oakland, has played under Mangini before. The 12-year veteran was on the practice field Monday and is ready to contribute to the team and for a coach, he said, who is worth battling for. "I know Eric, I know what he's about, and I know what he's trying to get done," said Hamilton. "When you have a coach like that you will go to battle for him. I'm very excited to be back here with him and to try to get this thing moving in the right direction. I know it's going to take time and we just have to keep working and believing in each other."