Mangini: We haven't deviated from the approach

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Punter Ben Graham has fumbled two holds for kicker Mike Nugent over the past two weeks, having difficulty with the turf in Minnesota and then failing to handle a slick pigskin in Miami. While many coaches use their backup quarterback as the placeholder, Jets head coach Eric Mangini values the camaraderie between his kickers.

"Usually the reason you use the punter is because the punter, the long snapper, and the kicker spend more time together than anybody else," Mangini said Thursday. "They can work on those things while other things are going on. There is continuity, usually a pretty strong bond between the kicker and the punter. They understand each other's quirks and nuances. Ben has done a good job. The mistakes just happened close together."

Read below for Mangini's complete press conference transcript

New York Jets' Head Coach Eric Mangini, 12.28

Opening Statement

Yesterday was a good practice in all three phases. There are some things, like every Thursday, we face that we need to clean up. It will be a typical day for us with third-down concentration, reviewing the things we didn't solve yesterday, reviewing the blitz package and following the normal progression.

I consistently talk to the team about the recurring theme of One: One meeting, one practice, one rep, one period, one game. That's all we're working on right now, is taking it one moment at a time, doing the best we can at that moment, then moving forward. That's been recurring and it's been so important to us.

We are excited about being able to finish the season in front of our home crowd. It's always great to feed off their energy. It gets loud in there. That's always appreciated, especially when we're on defense. To be able to finish the regular season with our fans is a great opportunity for us. We're looking forward to that.

On when the "One" theme was first instilled in Mangini…

Experiences, whether it be in Cleveland, Baltimore, here the first time or with New England. Seeing the different approaches, understanding or learning through experience what the best approach is. I really believe in that approach. Dan O'Brien (Olympic decathlete) came in to visit and talking to guys like him about their approach, even though it's a different sport, it's a different athlete, it was a recurring theme. Dan was so good at talking about his five-second rule, where he had gone through the adversity or had a lot of successes. What he found is, if he dwelled on it too long either way, he lost track of the next event. For him, it was multiple events, multiple competitions. It was something that he found to be very powerful.

On learning that with age and experience…

It's definitely something that I've learned as I've experienced more, experienced the different elements of what can happen in a season, being on 5-11 teams, 3-13, 14-2, Super Bowl teams, going to the playoffs, AFC championship. The different range of things that can happen and the different things that you see. I remember in Cleveland we were up by 14 with a little over two minutes to go. The game ended up going into overtime. You think you have it under control at that point, but that's how dramatically anything can change if you just lose sight of what you have to do for any amount of time.

On Andre Dyson practicing Wednesday…

With any injury, what we like to do is have the player do as much as he possibly can, but also to see the different adjustments that come up during practice, to hear the coaching points. You talk a lot about mental reps. You get some of that off of the film, but there are also those things that come up during practice. It can be the defensive backs going off to the side after a play, saying, 'If we get that formation, I'm going to lock this, I'm going to do that.' If they're not out there, sometimes you lose sight of some of those things that happen through the normal course of a practice.

On Dyson's status…

We'll see today. Each day you get a better gauge. Sometimes it comes with actually going through the reps, feeling comfortable with being able to perform the movements you have to perform, gauging it that way, understanding the difference between pain and injury. It's a process that we go through each week with guys that are banged up.

On Dyson's transition from Seattle…

Early on there are some things we did differently than what he had been exposed to, there's a bit of a transition period. He understood it. He took the coaching. He's really done a good job with incorporating his skill set into the system. He is a very steady influence. He's been very consistent for us. As an older guy who has experienced a lot of things with a younger group, that's always really positive to have that presence.

On Kimo von Oelhoffen's influence on the defense…

When we watched Kimo on tape, you saw the physical things he brought that I really liked, the style of play that he had. Then as I researched him as a person, it was precinct after precinct report about what a good guy he was, what effect he had in the weight room, in the meeting rooms. He's steady in terms of his approach, in terms of the type of attitude that he has. That has real value. Those are things that don't always translate into sacks or tackles, but sometimes having a player like that makes a lot of other players play better. He's that type of guy. I throw Bobby (Hamilton) into that category, too, where they're making other people better pros by example.

On the Raiders' offense…

You see them move the ball down the field. You see the big plays. Against Houston they had a chance to tie it up late. The throw was into a tight space but had a shot. Houston made a nice play on it to seal the game. Against Kansas City, you saw them move the ball pretty effectively. Some of that translated into field goals. There were some turnovers mixed in there. When a team is moving the ball effectively, you can't always count on making that play in the red area. Would you like to? Yeah, but it's not something you go in and say, 'This is definitely going to happen.' The Kansas City game is a good example of how effectively they can move the ball.

On the Raiders' discipline…

I know that in talking to Rob (Ryan), talking about Art (Shell), and Art's approach. He's moving the team in that direction quite substantially. They've done some things that are very positive, especially defensively. I know John Shoop, I've gotten to know him over the years, coached against him while he was in Chicago. I know his approach is very sound. He presents some challenges that you've seen since he's taken over.

On Ben Graham fumbling a hold verus Miami and Minnesota…

With the Minnesota game, when he put the ball down, he just had it on a slight angle. The turf didn't catch as well as what he had been used to. It was one of those things that slipped away from him.

With the Miami game, the weather the way it was, that's a little bit extreme, too. We can't have those things. We're working extra to fix those and try to simulate as many different conditions as we possibly can. He's been a pretty good holder since he took over that role. Just like anybody else, he's working hard to make sure that it doesn't happen again. He held the ball pretty well in the important field goal in the Miami game.

On using back-up quarterbacks as the holder…

A lot of times the back-up quarterback is the second holder. Usually the reason you use the punter is because the punter, the long snapper and the kicker spend more time together than anybody else. They can work on those things while other things are going on. There's continuity, usually a pretty strong bond between the kicker and the punter. They understand each other's quirks, nuances. That's the thought process behind it. Ben has done a good job. The mistakes just happened close together. It will be something we'll keep addressing.

On the back-up holder…

We've used Chad (Pennington), Patrick (Ramsey), different guys in that role. We actually practice multiple people in multiple spots. You saw yesterday, we worked on back-up snapper, worked on punting. Not just the last few weeks, but we're always trying to put people in those situations. Andre Dyson has kicked some field goals. We've done different things just to simulate if you had that situation.

On using Pennington as a back-up holder…

That's something that we work on pretty consistently. Both guys have done that, Chad and Patrick. Jon (Vilma) was in on the last kickoff. When you're at that point, you have to go with it.

On the success of Mike Nugent…

We talked a lot after the Tennessee game about the things that he needed to do. There were a lot of questions. But Mike is like Ben (Graham) and a lot of guys that may go through a stretch where you have a couple plays that really could set you back. But they've all moved past that and worked on correcting mistakes because there is usually something that's correctable there. If you address it, work on it, practice it, you can get a lot better. Mike had a very successful college career. He's kicked a lot of game-winning field goals. He's done a lot of outstanding things. That's the reason he's here.

On motivating Nugent to improve…

Mike is intrinsically motivated. He cares deeply about what he does. He has a very mature attitude about everything. He's a pro. He's going to consistently work at anything that he can get better at, whether it be kickoffs, whether it be backup punting, whatever the case may be. He's got a really good approach.

On Brad Kassell…

Brad has been a great addition to the team. He has all the qualities that we look for. In researching him, there were several coaches that said he was their favorite player because of the way that he worked at practice, the way that he worked in the meeting rooms. He has a good presence about him. He's got that toughness, that country toughness.

On Kassell being the favorite of his teammates…

You'd have to ask those guys. There are a lot of guys who can get under each other's skin any time you spend this much time together. We spend more time together than with our families during the season. I used to have quite a few arguments with my brothers and sisters.

On Kassell's best quality…

It's his intelligence. He's gone in on special teams and done a great job there. Anything we ask him to do, he just jumps in, volunteers for, is willing to do whatever we need him to do to help us win. I really like that.

On Mangini's interaction with Kimo von Oelhoffen before signing him…

I hadn't met him prior to that. It was more the research, talking to people who did know him personally. Any time we bring in a free agent or draft pick, there's quite a few calls that go out. You always want to find people that actually have dealt with the person in meetings, dealt with them on the field, dealt with them in a lot of different contexts that you're going to have to deal with him.

On the running game versus Miami…

There were some plays that we liked. There were some things that we felt really strongly about that were going to hit. Sometimes that's how it goes, where you've got something, they've changed something up, you have to adjust to it. We did run the ball. We stayed with it. Sometimes in running the ball, that's part of setting up the other aspects of the game, whether it be the play-action shots, the one to Justin (McCareins), whatever the other elements of the game plan are. The running game offensively and defensively is a huge point of emphasis for us every week. We're always trying to improve.

On Cedric Houston as the crucial running back…

We haven't deviated from the approach. All those guys work not just with the first group but they work on show teams as well. Cedric will be the show team back, Kevan (Barlow) will be the show team back, Leon (Washington), Derrick (Blaylock). They all work in with the first offense, as well. It's balanced. They share the load. They know that each week they have the opportunity to be up and to be part of that.

On Houston's success…

Sometimes the numbers work out that way. But sometimes the way the game plan is set up, the way the opponent is set up, it's really not the plays that are best for that back. We do look at it individually as to, okay, 'these are his numbers.' That's going to translate into the same numbers against the next group.

On Houston in practice Wednesday…

He's made progress. I thought he made progress last week, as well. I felt pretty good about what we had, the approach we were taking. Now he's getting more reps this week. That's always helpful. We're a few days away from the game. I'd say he's making strides each day, getting closer and closer.

On Laveranues Coles…

Really no change. We're just monitoring it. We'll see where he is today.

On balancing Coles' toughness with being smart about injuries…

It's a consistent approach in terms of talking to the trainers, working him into practice, but being smart about it so they're not in a position where they could re-injure whatever it is. Everybody has an awareness of who is vulnerable, making sure the players take care of each other as well. It's a collective effort by everybody to get the work done we need to get done, but make sure we're monitoring safety very closely so they can be at their best for the weekend.

On Coles' injury…

It was just a little bang on the jaw, a hit in the head. He got hit in the head pretty good. That's where he was hit. We wanted to list both of them because they were both affected. I guess I could have said head for head and jaw, right?

On the helmet-to-helmet hit between Zach Thomas and Coles…

It was one we put into the league and they're going to decide on it. It was a pretty big hit.

On if Coles was having an equipment problem on the sideline…

We were talking about the game. This is one of those games where very rarely do you see a lot of jarring hits you saw on both sides of the ball. There were some guys bloodied up, banged up, cut up. It was that type of game. I'm not sure specifically what they were working on with his helmet. We were just trying to make sure we were going through the procedure of, is he okay, the standard thing we do on the sideline.

On Bryan Thomas…

Bryan is very gifted athletically. He's stout in the running game, but he's got that burst, that rare speed that you look for. To be able to have that off the edge where you can deal with the tight ends that are big-time blockers, good-sized guys, but also have enough speed to generate some pressure as well, then you have to be able to drop. There are a lot of elements that go into that position. The thing that's really helped Bryan is his improvement week in and week out. There's really been some opportunities for him where maybe his total sacks could have been even a little bit higher. He's been close on some sacks, three or four other ones that he just missed by a little bit. Physically he had all the qualities that you're looking for. Then it was just transitioning, how quickly the progress would come.

On if Coles had a concussion…

He got hit in the head. That's what it is. He had the chin deal.

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)
Questionable: QB Aaron Brooks (neck), RB Zack Crockett (heel) & WR Randy Moss (ankle)
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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