The Jets season-opening win over Tennessee was indeed a momentous day for Eric Mangini's family, calling for the young coach to let his hair down and have some good old-fashioned fun. Mangini, fresh off his first career head coaching victory, celebrated Sunday night in legendary fashion.
"It was a good night. We had some apple pie and ice cream. With a two-year-old and seven-month-old, there is not a lot of champagne popping," Mangini said of his family's reaction to the first win.
Even amidst understandable confusion, the success was taken in by Mangini's oldest son Jake, who has been steadily catching on to his father's basic requests of progress and communication.
"Jake was fired up. He still can't quite figure out where Tennessee is, or why I don't talk back to him when we're on TV," Mangini said. "He's really improved his J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets. So that's progress. We got a real chance there."
After the last slice was cut and the final scoop was shoveled, it was back to business for the 35-year old coach. The next game is six days away and Mangini knows former mentor Bill Belichick will be prepared.
"I'm sure he's (Belichick) going to put together a great game plan, just like he does every single week, just like he did every single week that I was there," Mangini said of the Patriots coach on Monday. "He's a really outstanding football coach. What he's going to draw up I'm sure will be very, very good.
"This is the New York Jets versus the New England Patriots. Bill Belichick and Eric Mangini are just the coaches," he continued. "It's about us preparing our teams the best we can and that's how we're approaching it. Its how the Jets play and how the Patriots play."
Linebacker Matt Chatham is one of those players. He came to New York following six professional seasons in New England, all of which were under Belichick and Mangini. Knowing both of these teams and coaches so well, the former University of South Dakota Coyote says it will be important to keep a proper perspective.
"It should be fun. It's going to be interesting," said Chatham, a Jets special teams captain. "The biggest thing for us is to not over-blow it because although it is the first big meeting, they are in the division so we're going to see these guys twice a year from here on out, as long as we're here. You have to put it in perspective."
Before the first place Jets got back on the field for a crucial week of preparation against New England, there were some very deserving honors to be awarded.
Both Chad Pennington and Laveranues Coles received game balls from an offensive standpoint. Pennington led all NFL passers on Sunday with 319 yards while Coles hauled in 153 receiving yards.
There was also a game ball awarded to a defensive player. Even though this particular defender got his hands on a couple of footballs during the game, the first-year coach felt it suitable to award the six-year veteran one more.
"I thought this was probably a satisfying game for him; Andre Dyson," said Mangini of Dyson, who began his career in Tennessee. "He did a really nice job throughout the game with the two interceptions. I'm sure that was especially meaningful for him."
The win put the Jets in a tie with New England atop the AFC East. The Patriots slipped by Buffalo at home on Sunday, 19-17. Although victory is the obvious goal week in and week out, Mangini headed into today with the mindset of maintaining a level approach.
"We have to fight the human nature of things aren't so bad," Mangini said. "On the flipside of that, when you lose, you have to fight human nature that the sky is falling."
Veteran offensive lineman Pete Kendall left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury in the first half. He was replaced at left guard by Norm Katnik, a second-year player from the University of Southern California, and did not return. "Pete is a little sore. There are a lot of guys a little sore," Mangini said. "It was pretty physical there, especially as the game wore on. We'll evaluate all those guys here over the next couple days and have an injury report." The versatile Katnik held his own against a decent Titans defensive line. "I thought Norm went in and did a really good job as a backup going in and playing that role," Mangini said… Quarterback Chad Pennington completed 24 passes against the Titans but Mangini was most impressed with a non-play. Early in the second quarter, Pennington spotted a wide-open McCareins, hurried the snap and threw a scoring completion to his receiver. Unfortunately for the Jets, Tennessee called a timeout before the play got off. "I know it's a completion that wasn't a completion, but that was probably my favorite play," Mangini said. "We had our guy uncovered over there on the left on their sideline. He picked it up and popped it out there."… The Jets acquired Kevan Barlow from San Francisco on August 20th. Barlow, who carried 11 times against the Titans for 35 yards and scored once, has brought a lunch-pail attitude to New York. "I have really been pleased with the way that Kevan's worked," Mangini said. "Last week he was here early, he was here late, and he was here on his off day."… Mangini received a number of congratulatory calls after his first win. Of all those calls, not one came from Belichick. "This probably won't be the week that we'll be chatting too much," he said. "Our relationship is the same as it's been. He's always been a good friend."
"I didn't address it with the players," Mangini said. "I think about all the people that lost their lives and all the people that were affected and were so brave that day. I mean, that's so much more important than the things that we're doing here.
"The men and women that are overseas right now protecting our freedom and the sacrifice their families are making – they're the heroes, they're the ones that should be celebrated, and they're the ones that should be written about. It's an important day for the country. I can't put into words what they've gone through and what they mean to all of us to give us the opportunity and the freedom to have games like we have and just the life that we have."