Important Lessons Taught at Camp
Eric Mangini, the Jets first-year head coach, has soaked up a lot of knowledge over the years and his coaching methods and standards almost always prove to have significant history behind them. On Saturday, he talked of lessons from two former mentors in Bill Parcells and Ted Marchibroda.
When Mangini was an assistant coach in Hempstead, Parcells spoke of an important trifecta.
"It made an impression on me," said Mangini. "I still have the notes and I have shared it with my players whether I was a position coach or a coordinator. It is simple: be on time, pay attention, and work hard. Being on time shows you are mature, you are responsible, and you care. Everything we do here is for a reason, and if you pay attention you are going to get the answers to the questions."
Parcells continues to succeed in today's NFL, so it's no wonder why Mangini would resurrect such valuable coaching instruction. The new Jets coach, who already placed two players on the PUP list for not meeting workout standards, has established a set of rules for his players.
"We have plenty of rules and they are all there so that we operate effectively," he said.
Marchibroda's use of a no-huddle drill at the conclusion of practice has become a fixture for Mangini, as seen in both June's mini-camp and Friday's training camp. The drill is effective in two very important aspects of a team's effectiveness, and should prove to be valuable during the regular season.
"The other thing that you probably saw - same thing that you saw in the mini-camps - was the no huddle. Where I learned the value of the no huddle was under Ted Marchibroda in Baltimore," said Mangini, who coached under Marchibroda in 1996.
"His philosophy was to run the no-huddle at the end of practice when the players are most tired and it has several purposes," continued Mangini. "One is conditioning and two is to make them function and communicate at the point when it is the most difficult at the end of practice. A lot of that stuff comes up at the end of the game or the end of the half, so they have to function in that situation and it also serves a dual role in conditioning. I think it is valuable and we are going to keep working on it everyday for those purposes."
Hoping that these drills will instill some confidence and improve communication with his team, Mangini has provided a set rotation that mixes each of his four quarterbacks with a different set of linemen, receivers, and backs. One's initial reaction may be that this would confuse the offense, possibly causing a meltdown – which is somewhat the point. Mangini uses the method to prevent future confusion by working through it now and learning how to rise above and execute.
"What we are trying to do is put them with the different groups, see how they stack up with the different groups and force communication," he said. "I think a lot of problems with communication can be solved if you are just willing to talk it out. Even if you are all wrong together, then that is much better than one guy doing one thing and another guy doing his own thing."
Some of the players who excelled during drills Saturday were a couple of Jets running backs. With Curtis Martin (PUP) patrolling the sidelines, Cedric Houston and Derrick Blaylock both practiced well.
If two day two of Camp Mangini needed a theme, then it would have been the runners. Less than an hour before practice began, Martin addressed his current rehabilitation status for the first time since being placed on the PUP list. During practice however, those battling for the backfield spotlight were taking full advantage.
With the league's fourth all-time rusher incapacitated and watching anxiously from the sidelines, Blaylock's mindset didn't change.
"We do our best all the time, we're professionals," said Blaylock who is now in his fifth season. "You are supposed to come out here and work hard all the time, regardless of the situation, and that's what we do."
Blaylock understands the process of returning from injury following a frustrating '05 campaign when he appeared in only seven games. Last season Blaylock was forced to watch from afar, but he intelligently made the most of the down time with mental progress. Even though Blaylock is not injured this season, he still makes it a point to learn the position and situations better, whether he's in the game or not.
"It is good to get the extra work. I mean I'm a guy that can also take mental work out there as well," he said. "I take it back to the point where we are professionals. When I'm on the sideline, if another guy is in there, I just visualize myself in there and going through that, taking that rep."
Each back showed a lot of potential in today's blistering two and a half hour practice. Blaylock has seen the bulk of first string snaps so far with fullback B.J. Askew blocking his path. Hot on Blaylock's heels is a youthful pack which includes Houston and rookie Leon Washington, a fourth round selection from Florida State.
Washington and fellow rookie Nick Hartigan (UFA-Brown) impressed Saturday during the latest fan favorite one-on-one tackling drill. Both left their opposition diving violently and empty-handed into the grass on two consecutive occasions. Washington has been returning punts and kickoffs on special teams, and the 5'8" FSU alum even received praise from Coach Schottenheimer for his pass protection in 11-on-11 drills.
Houston received the snaps last season when Martin went out with his knee injury after week twelve. As a rookie, he learned a lot first-hand in regards to his offensive line's positioning and their blocking patterns, yet admits to coming out of the gate a little too wild. A year later, Houston has a different plan of attack and hopes to capitalize on the current opportunity.
"Last year I was just running hard - I told myself I was just going to run hard and not worry about anything else," said Houston. "I have got to be a lot more patient and read defenses a lot better. I am just trying to get out here and learn the offense a little better, just get out here and work hard, try to get the coaches attention and show them I can work hard and make plays. It's definitely an opportunity."
An opportunity is exactly what these running backs and the rest of the team has been given. The new coach brought with him a new outlook, providing all with an equal chance to play.
"Sometimes opportunity knocks very softly, you have to listen very carefully," said Mangini. "Some people are listening. It could be the soft knock of opportunity for some of these young guys."
WR Justin McCareins returned from the PUP list and returned to the first string offense opposite receiver Laveranues Coles… Brooks Bollinger took the first string snaps, followed by Kellen Clemens and Chad Pennington – who was with the first string yesterday. Patrick Ramsey saw very limited action today; a result of the set rotation…Kicker Mike Nugent was 14/14 during the session. His kicks ranged from 25 to 41 yards out, with many carrying far through the uprights… Coach Schottenheimer was very pleased with veteran guard Pete Kendall, screaming praise on multiple run blocking occasions… The loudest fan ovation came when Pennington connected with Jovan Witherspoon on a deep ball down the right side for a touchdown. Pennington also stepped back into his comfortable leadership role, leading a hurry-up offense immediately after a group lap, and picking up rookie receiver Brad Smith after Smith botched a route and an easy reception… Rookie Eric Smith continues to see playing time at the safety position alongside Kerry Rhodes.