We're still in that gray period, that interregnum, between the regimes of Eric Mangini and Rex Ryan. Until the season starts, reporters still will have questions about the two, and those "compare and contrast" queries are always dangerous thickets for a player to venture into.
But Kris Jenkins knows how to handle Uncle Charlie, knows how to smack that yakker into the gap.
Dennis Waszak, my good, hard-working friend from The Associated Press, framed his question after Wednesday's OTA practice along the lines of reminding Big Jenk that he said at the end of the season that he didn't think Mangini should have been relieved of his command, but asking if the big nose tackle can see the good that has come with the start of the Rex regime.
Jenkins' answer was thoughtful and fair all around and gives some insight into what the players think about the end of one "era" and the beginning of another, as opposed to how fans and reporters may see it. Here is his lightly edited, off-the-cuff response:
"Honestly, you have to look at it on a timeline. You know, at the time they let Mangini go, we didn't know about Rex Ryan, we didn't know what was coming, we didn't know anything that was going to be going on. All we knew was that our coach had got fired. and when you look at the situation ... I felt he got judged, no offense, according to your [reporters'] standard instead of the football standard. You understand what I'm saying? I'm not trying to bash anybody or put anybody down, but when you have people on TV telling you what's wrong with a coach when they're not in the locker room ... then what they're basing his losses on isn't the reality of the situation.
"And the reality of the situation is we did some great things, and we had a skid at the end. Now was it a bad deal? Yes. Was it something serious? Yes. In my personal opinion, did I think it was enough for him to get fired? No. And that's what I was speaking about. I was speaking my personal opinion.
*"Now that was then but now we're at now. I think that everybody from Woody Johnson to Mike Tannenbaum to everybody involved made probably one of the best decisions that they could've made for the Jets as far as moving forward. I really think their selecting him was better than getting this facility built, if you want my opinion on that. *
*"It's not a situation where I'm going to slight my old coach or put him down, but at the same time I'm going to give credit where credit's due. Rex is a heck of a football coach. And that's it. *
*"Right now the only thing I can do is be a defensive tackle. So I'm going to play for my team, I'm going to play for my coach, I'm going to support my team, I'm going to support my coach — and I hope to have fun doing it. *
"So that's the reality of the situation, that's why I'm here, and I'm just trying to enjoy it until there's going to be a time where I'll be sitting down watching the guys on TV."
The other topic that Jenkins held forth on was the team concept to help the young and old on this team to do something that everyone wants done. Again, Jenkins in his engaging patois cut right to the heart of the age-old question of why experience matters.
"We're getting old," he said, referring not to the Jets as a team but to certain selected veterans such as his soon-to-be-30-year-old self. "The chances that we have to take a shot at that Super Bowl ring are getting smaller and smaller by the day. So since they're getting smaller, we're going to take it a lot more seriously. And since we've been around this, we understand what it takes for that chemistry to be there in order to have a legitimate shot.
"And we see that, so that's why we feel good about it."
The Science of Splat
We mentioned Jenkins' appearance, taped last season, on Fox's "Sports Science" in March. For anyone who didn't see it and wants to see a 360-pound man throw a 160-pound "lab rat" such as John Brenkus, the show's host, like a shotput, check out the video here.
Washington Back at Headquarters
Today's OTA practice was not open to the media, but we can report that proud papa Leon Washington was back in uniform. Washington, who returned Monday after three weeks away from voluntary practices, was absent from Wednesday's workout because his fiancée, Charity Young, gave birth to a son, Noel.
The practice was a short one, with the players beginning around 10:30 a.m. and ending an hour later. The players then showered and dressed and headed for three buses that took them to the team's "Jerseys Off Their Backs" event with about 30 businesses in the Florham Park-Madison-Morristown area. Tim Carlson will have a report on how the outing went for Friday morning on newyorkjets.com.