Super Bowl XLII is in the books and the 2007 NFL standings are nothing but a piece of history. Eric Mangini, now in his third year as head coach of the New York Jets, is a forward thinker and that's what his organization needs with September still seven months away.
In his rookie season as head coach, Mangini led the Jets to a 10-6 record and wild-card entry to the postseason. But his message to players at the start of last summer's training camp was that you can't pick up where you left off.
"It really doesn't matter what happened last year and it doesn't matter what happened the year before," he said. "Every season there are teams that were disappointing and suddenly have very good seasons and there are teams that had high expectations that didn't have very good seasons."
The Jets didn't meet their own expectations last season. Despite some encouraging signs, the Green & White finished third in the AFC East and could never dig out of an early hole. Just a day before a new calendar year, the ever-consistent Mangini again shared a familiar point with his team.
"You don't start at 4-12," he said. "That season is in the books. What it's going to take now or what it's going to depend on is how well we work together and how much progress we are able to make as a team. We are going to face unique challenges next year that are specific to that season and how we handle those challenges, how we execute as a group and how we make progress as a group — that's what's going to determine the outcome of next season."
The group will be new one. We've already seen a bunch of changes on the coaching staff.
Special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff, one of the finest coaches in the league, will sit out '08 because he needs a ninth surgery on his left leg and indicated he'll contemplate retirement.
Former DB coach Mike MacIntyre is now Duke's defensive coordinator. Tony Wise was hired at the University of Pittsburgh by Dave Wannstedt to mentor the Panthers' O-line. Ed Donatell, who spent '07 as a special defensive assistant, was named the University of Washington's defensive coordinator. And Jason Michael, an assistant tight end coach last fall, has moved to Rocky Top and will coach tight ends at the University of Tennessee.
The Jets hope the addition of Bill Callahan will provide a spark to their offense. Callahan, who has 32 years of coaching experience, led the Oakland Raiders to a Super Bowl trip in 2002.
"His expertise with the running game and with protections will be a big asset," Mangini said of his new assistant head coach/offense.
In terms of player transactions, the Jets have signed a dozen to reserve/future contracts and free agency will be in full swing by March 1.
"Everybody has a different way that they spend the off-season," Mangini said. "For the coaching staff and the organization, that's the time where you're evaluating the team, getting ready for free agency, getting ready for the draft, looking at OTAs, training camp and the off-season program. Eventually guys come back for the off-season program and that's really the beginning of the next year for the players."
And a fresh start.
How Brick's Oven Fared
The Giants did receive a challenge from the Jets last weekend, but they were able to fend it off. Rachael Ray hosted a "Super Bowl Recipe Playoff" and LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson turned in a tasty effort with his BLT dip and spicy crabcakes.
But chef Mario Batali favored Ottis Anderson's fried chicken and secret dipping sauces. Anderson — the former Big Blue RB was named Super Bowl XXV MVP for his 102-yard ground effort against the Bills, also beat out Joey Harrington's baby back ribs and mashed potato-corn.