Be Like Bill
From the Belichick stylings of their new coach to the front office's draft
tactics, the Jets are looking like New England South
If you had been at
the Jets' practice field during minicamp last Saturday and seen the coach in
the gray sweatshirt roaming from drill to drill, micromanaging as he went, you
would have thought you were watching Bill Belichick. The first time he was on
the field with his new team, Eric Mangini, 35, had the look and coaching style
of his mentor, Belichick, of the three-time Super Bowl-- champion Patriots.
Midway through the morning workout Mangini joined the defensive backs and
taught Eric Smith, a 2006 third-round pick out of Michigan State, how to chop a
running back's stiff-arm. Smith ran to wrap up a straight-arming ballcarrier,
and Mangini barked, "Break it, break it, break it! Don't let him get on
Mangini's postpractice remarks to the media, you would have sworn you were
hearing Belichick. The subject was running back Curtis Martin's rehab from
off-season knee surgery. Belichick, famously, says less than nothing about
injuries. So how did Mangini, who had coached under Belichick since the two
were with the Jets in 1997 and was the Pats' defensive coordinator in 2005,
respond to a question about Martin? "Curtis is rehabbing," he said.
"He's part of the medical program. We have a program in place for him. As
soon as he's ready, we'll let you know."
Trying to draw out
Mangini one-on-one with softball questions in his office afterward, you would
have known you were dealing with a Belichick disciple. You're running the 3--4
this year but will be able to flex into the 4--3, right? "All I can say is,
we'll do what gives us the best chance to win," Mangini responded.
installing new plays," owner Woody Johnson said on Saturday. "He's also
installing a new culture."
But it's not only
Mangini who's following the New England game plan. First-year Jets general
manager Mike Tannenbaum, a longtime Jets staffer, learned plenty about the
importance of evaluating a draft prospect's character from his friend and
counterpart Scott Pioli, the Patriots' vice president of player personnel. For
instance, one of Pioli's questions to his scouting staff is, How important is
football to this player? That was one of six measures Tannenbaum and Mangini
used to evaluate the personalities of this year's prospects. The Pats staff
also puts a premium on player intelligence; for example, no starter on their
offensive line scored lower than 26 on the 50-question Wonderlic test. The
Jets' draft class, according to the New York Daily News, averaged a 28 on the
Wonderlic, the highest of any team. And during its recent run of success, New
England has relied on strong leadership from linebacker Tedy Bruschi and
quarterback Tom Brady. Last month the Jets drafted a linebacker, Anthony
Schlegel, who was a captain at two Division I programs--Air Force in 2002 and
Ohio State in 2005--and a quarterback-receiver, Brad Smith, who was a
three-year captain at Missouri.
It's important to
remember that Belichick was a disappointment in his first head-coaching job,
with the Browns. And Mangini has a monstrous rebuilding job on his hands. Only
three teams scored fewer points than the 2005 Jets, and just nine allowed more.
Martin is coming off major knee surgery at 33. Quarterback Chad Pennington is
rehabbing from his second shoulder surgery in 15 months. Before he jumped to
the Chiefs in January, former coach Herm Edwards said he thought the Jets
needed seven new starters on offense alone. Drafting tackle D'Brickashaw
Ferguson and center Nick Mangold in the first round was a start, but New
England and Miami are well ahead of the Jets in the AFC East.
struggling team like New York could do worse than model itself after a
franchise whose methods have proved so successful. "What I learned in New
England about teamwork, discipline, how an organization should be run, how a
team should be coached, I wouldn't trade for anything in the world,"
Mangini said. "What I learned is that even when you're on top, as we were,
it wasn't good enough. You always had to work to stay ahead of the
NEW DAY IN
It's Year 1 A.T. (After Terrell)
Six months after
surgery to repair a hernia that was more serious than originally reported,
Donovan McNabb looks perfectly fit. As if to prove it, he dunked a basketball
in a recent charity game. Last weekend at the Eagles' first minicamp he threw
accurately and moved out of the pocket with no pain, running to his left and
tossing across his body like the Pro Bowl quarterback of old. "I'm 85, 90
percent," McNabb, 29, said last Friday, fresh from a weightlifting session
at the Eagles' training complex. "No question in my mind I'll be fine for