Mangini: We control our own destiny

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The lack of penalties coming from the Jets' defensive backfield has been one of the reasons why the defense has experienced so much success since their bye week in early November. As a former defensive backs coach on very efficient defensive teams, Jets head coach Eric Mangini appreciates a physical yet vigilant secondary. There have been referees present at every Green & White practice this season, calling penalties just as they would in live situations.

"With the officials out there every day, we get instant feedback as to how the technique has been played and that's great," said Mangini on Friday. "You can practice and you can monitor those things in practice with someone that can give you a realistic look of how things are going to be called, and then if there is a question, they can talk to the officials that we have in practice. 'Why did you call that? What did you see? What could I have done better?' That constant feedback through the course of the season has been helpful."

Read below for Coach Mangini's complete press conference transcript

New York Jets' Head Coach Eric Mangini, 12.29

Opening Statement

On Sunday we have our annual Coat Drive in conjunction with Jersey Cares. Anybody who has either new or gently used coats can drop those off at any of the gates. We've had a pretty mild winter but the weather can change dramatically pretty quickly and this coat drive is something that's important to me. When I was young, my family and I were coming out of Hartford Stage Company, we had a family evening there, and there was a homeless man and my father took off his coat and gave it to him. That made a powerful impression on me.

It is so important, not just during the holidays but at every point, of giving back to those in need, and sharing. This is a nice opportunity to do that. I hope the fans will respond and I know we will.

Yesterday we had another good day. We practiced strong, we had the same procedure. It will be the standard work week for us. We need to build on the two days that we had.

A player to me who has really been impressive particularly over the last month is Justin McCareins. His willingness to participate on special teams and then not only participate, but go in and be an impact player there and the big plays that he's made for us throughout the course of the season and especially of late are impressive. His work ethic in practice, consistently making plays in practice, I'm really happy with the contributions he's been making.

On Chad Pennington being on the verge of finishing an entire season…

Chad's view is participating in every game, doing the best he can in every game and not looking at it in terms of the personal element. He's so competitive, he's so driven, he is such a good leader. His goal is to finish the season and to finish the season the way that we're all looking to finish the season, which is strong and with a win on Sunday.

On Pennington as a coach on the field…

Every Thursday we have a players' meeting where the captains will run the offensive meeting. It's after we do our normal post-practice work or post-practice meetings. Then the players get together and they go through the questions that they have, just by themselves, and Chad and Pete (Kendall) lead that meeting. I've sat in on a few of those, and it's very detailed. It's very organized. It's very well-run. You can see that if he ever wants to do that as a profession, it would be a pretty easy transition for him.

On the low number of pass interference penalties against the Jets this season…

It goes back to the emphasis on the rules and the job that Mike (Westhoff) does, not just with the rules, but with the interpretation of the rules. With the officials out there every day, we get instant feedback as to how the technique's been played and that's great. You can practice and you can monitor those things in practice with someone that can give you a realistic look of how things are going to be called, and then if there is a question, they can talk to the officials that we have in practice. 'Why did you call that? What did you see? What could I have done better?' That constant feedback through the course of the season has been helpful.

It's a combination of things, the consistent individual work that Corwin (Brown) does with the defensive backs on hand placement, on the release of the route, on the stem on route, how to play the ball when it's underthrown, when you're beat and you get back into a position to play the ball. There are a lot of different elements of playing a deep ball or playing the receiver at the line of scrimmage. We go through those phases and constantly talk about those phases of a route and drill it, so that when it does come to the game, we can do it without very much thought.

On what Mangini remembers about the day the Jets clinched the 2002 AFC East title…

We (New England) were not very good in the running game. Ricky Williams had something like 180 yards. I know we scored and then we kicked off, we got them backed up, they went three and out. Punted, had a pretty good return, and then Tom (Brady) sealed the game. We could have done a lot better in the running game that day.

At that point we needed to win the game to have a chance to be in the playoffs and that was a big point of emphasis for us and we were going to try to do everything we could to put ourselves in a position to get in. The Jets were playing Green Bay, and they were the 4:00 game. I'm sure we watched that. It got pretty ugly early. I remember going home and thinking 'it's not going to work out the way we hoped.' I think it was a three-way tie. If the Jets had lost, New England would have won the division. But it ended up the Jets won the division.

On if Leon Washington can be an every-down back…

Leon has done a very good job with the roles we've asked him to play but he has been in on first and second down. He has run a lot of different types of plays and different styles of plays. What I like about Leon is his development. The things that he consistently focuses on he's consistently gotten better at and that's how he's approached the whole season. He sees a weakness, he works on the weakness, he improves on the weakness and eventually it turns into a strength.

On Washington always looking to improve himself…

That's a trait of a lot of really successful people. They are always evaluating, not relishing what the success was but trying to figure out where they could have done better. It's another Teddyism (Teddy Atlas), 'Sometimes your greatest strength can be your greatest weakness because if that's all you emphasize and you never improve in other areas, eventually you're going to have to call on those other areas and that's when you can be exposed.'

On punishing penalties and turnovers in practice…

Whenever you have a penalty or a turnover, a lot of those are concentration issues and they don't just affect you; they affect the whole group. It's just a reminder of how important that is. Any time you do have those things happen, you're penalized and it's just reinforcing that fact as it happens. Whether it happens in an OTA or whether it happens in training camp, you're not losing field position at that point, but the reality is when that does happen in the game, it's going to happen. It just reinforces the cause and effect of those actions.

On if Mangini has had to run any laps…

Not lately. I need to run laps. A lot of them. That's an off-season goal. But Mike (Tannebaum) has not made me run or Woody (Johnson), not yet.

On Andre Dyson's progress this week…

He did some work yesterday and he'll do some work today. It's like any of the injuries, we'll just gauge it as we go. He's been out there watching practice unfold and taking part in that aspect of it, talking to the guys that may be getting more reps than he is. As he gets a little bit more involved here today we'll just gauge it and make sure that he's prepared to go, but not do anything that would physically set him back to play on Sunday.

On Dyson's leadership…

Everybody leads in a different way and Andre is a quiet guy from my experience and maybe he's more vocal when I'm not around. That's sometimes the case with some guys. But he's been a very steady performer. He has a consistent approach. He's played a lot of football, he's been in some important games and all that helps when you have guys that don't have similar experiences and you can share and you can give them a little bit of insight as to what those things are like.

On the offense's success when facing top-10 defenses…

Whether it's a top-10 defense, or whatever defense we approach, it's not a case of looking at the statistics and saying, 'okay, we have to work harder this week because they are in the top-10.' It's really just. What do they give us? What things can we attack? What things do we need to protect against? What are our strengths in relationship to that defense? It's not as much of a discussion as what they are statistically; it's more what we need to do against that group against that scheme to be successful.

On the Jets lack of injuries…

We did place Tim Dwight on injured reserved. Pete Kendall missed some games early. There have been some guys that are banged up and played through. With injuries, it's different every year. I think you'd love to be able to find the one factor that translates into staying healthy throughout the year but I don't think anybody has really figured out exactly why that is. If you try to do the best you can in terms of conditioning prior to the season, conditioning during the season, maintaining your weight lifting program, involving a nutritionist, seek treatment proactively, all those things You're trying to maintain the health of your players and that's the goal. Which one thing is greater than the other? I couldn't say definitively, but you're always looking to help that process along.

I don't think there's necessarily one determining factor in terms of pad level or the play or the situation. Sometimes it's just that injuries come in bunches or sometimes have long stretches where you don't get them. I've seen it go both ways. I wish there was a key thing that you could just put your finger on and say, 'hey, that's it, if we just fix this, we should be healthy.'

On the improvements of Chad Pennington…

With Chad, as he learns the system better, he builds on the information that he has. He does a very good job of stacking information and stacking experiences and drawing from those. Things that may have happened in the preseason or happened Week One, he has corrected that stuff. He's been able to use that as a springboard for other things. As he gets a sense of how things work, he gets more and more insight from his perspective which helps with the game plan, things that he likes, things that he saw in his film study that he feels would be successful and it's that give and take throughout the week between him, Brian (Schottenheimer), myself and the rest of the offensive coaches. All that stuff plays a role into the final game plan and what you like.

On Pennington's input on the offensive plan…

The quarterback is always an extremely important part of that because you want to have plays that he's comfortable with. He'll execute those plays better because of his comfort level. He's a smart guy that's very insightful and things that look one way to us from the sidelines may look very different to him in the pocket. Without taking all of those things into account, if it were just like I had said 'no, we're doing it this way and that's it,' without getting that feedback, sometimes you could be making a bad decision when you have good information available to you.

On talking to the team about this week's game…

We've been talking for as long as I can remember about the fact that we collectively control our own destiny, and that was true in Week One, just like it is now. It's how we work; it's how we prepare; it's how we approach things; it's how we execute on Sunday. That's what's important. That's the control that we have, and if you take control of that, then good things will happen and success will come. And this week is the same as it was before. We controlled the things that we do in preparation, and the way that we execute. That's all you can ask for is the ability to affect the outcome and we have that ability to affect the outcome by the things that we do.

On preparing for the playoffs logistically…

That's the real benefit of Mike (Tannenbaum), not that there are not many other benefits of Mike, but it's the party planning. Last week he was outstanding. He orders really good room service. You know, there are a lot of things that he does that have value, added value. But he's handling a lot of that stuff. I'm going through the week the same way that I've gone through the week. He and I will get together and discuss the things that need to have decisions made in relation to whatever happens moving forward. But those things are in place, those things are being taken care of, but not at the expense of the normal work week.

On Leon Washington's pass blocking…

That was something that was another area that he had to work on. I was watching practice yesterday with the offense and noticing how much progress he's made in terms of his base, the way that his hands come up and strike the defender. He has a much more compact, powerful punch. Those things are so important, especially if you're giving away size or weight or any of those issues. Technique becomes the core factor in success or failure and he's made strides in those areas. It's funny you ask because it's one of the things I noticed yesterday watching the tape.

On Oakland's defense…

In my experience with Rob Ryan, he's an outstanding coach. He's extremely innovative. He's very good at identifying tendencies and attacking those tendencies. He has a great way of dealing with players of all different types of personalities and backgrounds and he's able to relate to them, get them to play extremely hard. They have some outstanding players on defense that have done a really impressive job throughout the course of the season. It's really a combination of Rob, the defensive staff and the way that the players have responded to that and consistently played at a high level.

On Rob Ryan's ability to attack other teams' weaknesses…

There's an element of that. His dad was outstanding at attacking weaknesses. They had BTF, blitz the formation, and AFC's, automatic fronts and coverages. They would put together a book each week defensively with the Bears and the Eagles and the Cardinals when Rob was on the staff with his dad, and those were all built on things. BTF we're going to blitz the formation. The blitz would come based off of whatever the final formation was, which is about the best example of attacking weaknesses as you can get. AFC's, automatic fronts and coverages, are the same thing. If they give us this look, we are automatically going to shift to the under or it's going to be cover two or cover three or whatever the case may be. They were all just triggered and they could change multiple times based on what happens. He was raised that way.

On whether the raiders use the 46 defense…

There are elements of that in our defense and a lot of that comes from working with Rob and the ideas that he brought in. There's defenses that we shared in terms of introduction and evolution that I see pop up there, and I'm sure he sees pop up here. It's just a function of, whether you figure out when it's coming?

On Mangini taking over the Jets…

Whenever you take any job that you're the head coach, you have a significant impact on what happens. As I interviewed for the job it was the shared vision between myself, Terry (Bradway), Mike (Tannenbaum), Mr. (Woody) Johnson. We had a vision of the types of players that we wanted to be part of the organization and the type of team that we wanted to be. That vision is the foundation of all the decisions that we've made moving forward.

Injury ReportJets** *Questionable: FB B.J. Askew (foot), RB Kevan Barlow (thigh), CB David Barrett (hip), WR Laveranues Coles (head/jaw), CB Andre Dyson (knee), FB James Hodgins (knee), RB Cedric Houston (calf), S Kerry Rhodes (knee) & DB Eric Smith (foot)
Probable: *LB Matt Chatham (foot), *OL Brandon Moore (back), *DL Rashad Moore (hand), *QB Chad Pennington (calf), *QB Patrick Ramsey (calf) & *DE Bryan Thomas (shoulder)

Raiders
Out: RB LaMont Jordan (knee) & WR Jerry Porter (hip)
Doubtful:WR Randy Moss (ankle)
Questionable: QB Aaron Brooks (neck) & RB Zack Crockett (heel)
*
Probable: *G Kevin Boothe (elbow),T Robert Gallery (neck), *G Corey Hulsey (knee) & *CB Fabian Washington (shoulder)

*Denotes players who participated in practice

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