Mangini: The Best Way to Attack

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Much of the talk this week has been in regards to the dramatic improvement the Bills have displayed since their first meeting with the Jets. Buffalo has won three of its past five games and those two losses were by a combined four points. However, the Jets have improved as well and head coach Eric Mangini discussed his run defense on Wednesday.

"I think there have been improvements across the board," Mangini said at his press conference. "There have been improvements with the defensive line in terms of their leverage, their technique, their gap integrity, the linebackers taking on blockers, really understanding how the runs are going to hit in this scheme and where exactly they need to fit. The secondary run support overall has improved to where you get the two corners and the two safeties balancing off their leverage on the runs - whether it be inside or outside runs."

Read below for Mangini's complete press conference transcript

New York Jets' Head Coach Eric Mangini, 12.6

Opening Statement…

We signed Sloan Thomas today to the practice squad, a wide receiver. Titus Adams signed with the Giants. He is signed from our practice squad to their active roster.

In terms of Buffalo, we talked a lot about the type of team this is. I'm very impressed with them on tape. I like the way they play throughout the game, they have a lot of high-motor players, a lot of energy and a lot of toughness across the board.

Offensively, they are a group of playmakers. All the receivers bring something different. The running back is dynamic. The quarterback can make plays with his feet, with his arms. He's had some really impressive games of late where he's driven down the field and won the game. The two games they have lost recently, two out of three games were very close against Indianapolis and San Diego.

Defensively the speed, the way they pursue to the football, the way that they tackle, the way they get to the passer - all those things create problems.

On special teams, this is going to be one of our toughest challenges of the year because every area is good. Every area they've got play-makers and they're extremely well-coached. This will be another difficult game for us. We move completely to our focus on the Bills. That's what we're working on today and the first and second down package.

On if Mangini made attempts to keep Titus Adams…

There are a lot of things that go into that. Mike and I talked about it. We want to have some flexibility there with the roster. When you do bring a player up, it's a longer-term commitment.

On Jerricho Cotchery…

I noticed Jerricho when I was in New England and we were getting ready for the second Jets' game. He kept popping up on the different games that I was watching. He was always an issue on special teams. I liked that, for the opportunities that he had, the way that he took advantage of those opportunities. In the running game he was a guy that could be brought in and really do a nice job on the perimeter in terms of stealing the defensive back. That was something as a defensive coordinator that I noticed. When I got here, he did an outstanding job in the off-season program. When he got a chance to compete in training camp, he really took advantage of those chances and eventually won the position.

On Willis McGahee…

He's run against a lot of people pretty well. We went in the first game aware of him, trying to contain him. He did a nice job. He's a dynamic guy. He can cut back, bounce out. He's got great acceleration. He's good after contact. We work on the running game week-in, week-out. We've made some progress. We're going to continue to do that, evaluate some of the things we did the first game, take a look at how they have approached the running game since that point, then put together the plan.

On improvements the team has made since Week Three versus the Bills…

I think there have been improvements across the board. There have been improvements with the defensive line in terms of their leverage, their technique, their gap integrity, the linebackers taking on blockers, really understanding how the runs are going to hit in this scheme, where exactly they need to fit. The secondary run support overall has improved to where you get the two corners and the two safeties balancing off their leverage on the runs, whether it be inside or outside runs. The more experience that we have in the system, playing with each other within the system, I think all that stuff helps. The commitment to technique, the ability to play the runs out of base coverage's as well as movement packages, all those things have helped.

On utilizing Cedric Houston…

He's had really good weeks of practice. First it's how well you practice. Then, if you do create the opportunity, how well you take advantage of those opportunities in the game. I think Cedric has been very impressive at practice in the way that he finishes every single play, breaks the line of scrimmage. Whether or not he's caught or not caught, we want him to finish the run, run another 30 yards. It's automatic with him. His ball security has improved. I like the things that he's done in terms of pickup and his pass protection has gotten better. All those things have combined.

On Kevan Barlow…

I talked to him. I talked to all those guys. I talk to the whole team about how each week the roster changes. Your role is going to change, your ability to get in the game is based on not just what you're doing offensively or defensively but what you're doing on special teams. Last week he worked on special teams for the first time in his career, and he was on the show team for punt return. It gets pretty noisy in there, especially if you haven't been in there. I thought he did a good job and he made some noise in there, as well. That's all encouraging.

On Barlow staying upbeat…

All that stuff helps if he carves out a role there. Cedric (Houston) works on special teams, Leon (Washington) and Derrick (Blaylock), that's an ongoing part of the process. The same with Brad (Smith) and Justin McCareins, right on down the line. We want everybody to be able to contribute.

On the playoff talk…

I encourage my team to talk about the next opponent, which to me is the important thing. There's still a quarter of the season to play. You lose track of what's in front of you, what's happening outside of that really isn't going to matter.

On Jerricho Cotchery's improvement…

Some of it is that Laveranues gets a lot of attention. Any time there's a lot of attention on one player, it opens some holes for another player. Jerricho has shown over and over again when he gets a chance to catch the ball, he usually comes up with it and does some really good things with the football after he has it so that you keep getting more and more chances as you show that.

On how many moving parts there are on the Jets offense…

It was one of the reasons that I originally looked for Brian (Schottenheimer), for this type of system, for the problems it created when I was a defensive coordinator and a defensive back coach. Those are long weeks. There are multiples and multiples. When you put a tight end out wide, motion him back in, it doesn't seem like that big a deal. When you do that and motion a receiver over to change the formation, you're going from maybe a two-by-two formation to a three-by-one formation to a two-back formation, that two-back slot. There's a lot of stuff that goes into that within 40 seconds. You have 11 guys who have to change the defense three or four times. There are some chances for messing it up.

On bells and whistles in the offense…

I enjoy that stuff. Brian (Schottenheimer) sometimes gets sick of me saying, 'Why don't we do this? Why don't we do that?' It's great if you can handle it mentally and you can create those problems, expand the package, that's always positive. But you want to be able to play fast. You want it to be easy for you and hard for them. Brian does a really nice job, the whole offensive staff, of breaking it down and presenting it in a way that is very easy to digest for the players, even though it's multiple things.

On Australian Rugby player Willie Mason…

Willie is a guy that came to our attention, pretty good rugby player, just one of those opportunities we had to take a look at him. That's really what we were doing, is taking a look at him, seeing whether or not there could be some potential for him.

On whether Willie Mason is feisty…

I hadn't evaluated his feistiness, but he's been pretty productive. He's been a pretty dynamic guy in that league for a long time. He seemed relatively feisty when I spoke to him, though (laughter).

On decreasing the number of penalties…

It's a combination of things. We have officials at practice. (Special Teams Coordinator) Mike Westhoff does a really nice job, he spends a lot of time studying the rules - not just the rules but interpretation of the rules, then helps me with educating the team on how things are going to be called. We do put a heavy emphasis on it. It's something that is extremely important to us because we can control that by the way that we operate. Our goal is to always try to play clean football.

On playing veterans over rookies in the secondary…

That will be week-to-week. Whoever has the best week this week will play. That position to me, once someone establishes they should be the starter week-in and week-out, they should have this role week-in and week-out, then they will.

That being said, we'll encounter some teams where a match-up may be better for a certain one of our players than somebody else, so that will be taken into account as well. Similar to the running back position, what your role is on special teams and what your role is and how you deal with the opportunity when you get it.

On Andre Dyson…

Andre has done a really good job. I started noticing Andre pretty early in camp. Obviously liked him before we brought him in. But in camp, he took the coaching and he improved on what we were trying. He was able to get out of the system he had been in and incorporate himself into our system pretty quickly and understood the things he had to do in this system that were different than the systems he had come from, and worked at that. As he did that, he's got really good natural ability, good ball skills, and you see that performance showing up.

On whether it's comforting to have Andre Dyson on one side of the field:

Andre has done a nice job. Like with everybody else there are things he can improve on. I think David (Barrett) has done a good job when he's been in there. Really, all those guys have done some positive things, but just need to consistently perform at a high level. That's what we're working at in the secondary.

On Dyson making big plays…

Andre is deceptively fast. Sometimes it looks like he's coasting, but he's flying. That smoothness he has, you may look out there and think like you have a play vertically, but he's got good speed, good make-up speed. He's put himself in position to make plays.

On Jerricho Cotchery continuing to develop…

Jerricho will continue to develop because of who Jerricho is. He created a role on the team through special teams, then he excelled there, then he got an opportunity a little bit last year, showed that he could do some things and got more of an opportunity. Even as you watch this season unfold, as he gets chances, he keeps taking advantage of them. The play against the Patriots in that first game I thought was one of the best run-after-the-catch plays. The balance and awareness that he wasn't down - that type of thing makes you think that with his hard work and who he is that he'll continue to improve.

On playing a team after beating them earlier in the year…

After each game against an opponent we go through things we did well, things we did poorly, personnel mismatches, personnel advantages. You do that while the information's fresh so that the second time you play them you can draw on that. You watch that tape again. You also look at the games that happened in between that game and now to see who's changed in terms of personnel, what has changed in terms of the scheme, how have you changed, how do those things relate to each other, and now what's the best way to attack moving forward.

On what parts of the Buffalo game the coaches looked at…

The whole game. There were a lot of different situations. You don't know how this game is going to go. You try to see how they responded in the different situations, how we responded in the different situations and just plan based off of what you can gather from that.

On Chris Baker…

I was really happy with Chris Baker this week. A couple of those routes that he caught were things that had looked really good in practice. We just haven't gotten them called and executed the way we would have liked to. He got a couple chances and did a nice job with it. I think he's done a really good job of developing a role in the passing game, and his route running continues to improve. I wouldn't classify him as just a pass-catching guy. He's pretty stout at the point of attack, which is what I really like, his ability to not only hold the point and do some good things there, but get out into the route, show some wiggle, get open.

On Sean Ryan…

That second tight end position is difficult because you're not only an on-the-line blocker, an in-line blocker, but he also moves into the backfield and plays the fullback role. He needs to know what the tight end position is doing for those true on-the-line sets and also how to operate as a fullback when we go into the backfield. That helps because now you can build two-back formations out of 12 personnel, which is one back, two tight ends. You have to approach it defensively differently. The two-back runs versus one-back runs are completely different. Having a guy that can give you the versatility to do both is very important.

On what opportunity the team has to be in the playoff run…

We look at it really just the same way we've been talking about: This week, take care of this week then we get the opportunity next week. That's all we can control. That's all we have to focus on.

On playing meaningful games…

You're always excited about playing meaningful games in December. We want to keep taking care of one game at a time. They'll become more and more meaningful. That's important.

On the roughing-the-passer rules…

I like our quarterback being protected as much as possible. I'd like to sack theirs as much as I could without getting called for 15 yards. We're trying to get it right. We've hit the quarterback a few times. Unfortunately we've had the penalty situation. We're working on that, trying to twist him as we bring him down. Our first goal is to get there to bring him down. We'll keep working at that. But I think they should protect our quarterback a lot (laughter).

On whether or not the rules hamper defensive players…

Whatever it is you just have to adjust to it. It is universal throughout the league, and everybody is under the same guidelines as everybody else. It's not really a disadvantage for us as opposed to somebody else. As long as they're universally imposed, if everybody is affected the same way, then everybody has to adjust accordingly. That's what we're trying to do.

Wednesday Injury ReportJets
Questionable: FB B.J. Askew (foot), CB David Barrett (hip), LB Matt Chatham (foot), Eric Smith (foot) LB Bryan Thomas (shoulder) & S Rashad Washington (illness)
*Probable: *RB Kevan Barlow (calf), *CB Andre Dyson (neck), *DE Shaun Ellis (ankle), *RB Cedric Houston (knee), DB *OL Pete Kendall (knee), *WR Justin McCareins (foot), *DL Rashad Moore (hand), *QB Chad Pennington (calf) & *WR Brad Smith (shoulder)

Bills Out: LB Angelo Crowell (fibula)
Questionable:LB John DiGiorgio (ankle), RB Willis McGahee (ankle) & CB Terrence McGee

*Denotes players who participated in practice

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