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Eric Mangini Press Conference: 10/11

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Courtesy NY Jets PR Department    

Yesterday was a good practice with good intensity and good focus. We had a chance to review some fundamentals, which is always important to do. We saw the normal first- and second-down package that we have and worked on some two-minute as well. All of those things I thought were positive. There are some issues like any Wednesday that you have to clean up when you install the new part of the game plan. 

I was really pleased with Brad Kassell. He gave a great look on show team. We stress it all the time to the team how important it is to keep as close a look to who we are playing as we possibly can so the different units can get a true sense of where those fits are going to be by our opponent, how they are going to cover certain routes and how they are going to run certain routes. That carries over to the game. It’s so important. 

On tackling drills in Wednesday’s practice …
You’re always looking to emphasize different fundamentals. Sometimes it’s a little bit more work on the sled in terms of blocking, zone-blocking, that type of thing, or it could be more long ball for the defensive backs. You’re just trying to shift the focus week in and week out to emphasize areas where you can improve and make strides. You want to hit the tackling drill. We did that quite a bit last year. You come back to it at different points in the season just to cover and emphasize it again.

On players’ confusion whether this was going to be a more up-tempo work week …
I’m sure they were confused because I didn’t say whether it was live or not. You see “tackling drill” and there’s different ways you can do it. You can do it live or you can do it thud. I must have misplaced what it was at that point. It was a little ambiguous as to how we were going to do it. Live is full tackling, bring it to the ground. Thud, you get your fit. It was thud. It wasn’t live. 

On whether he would use live tackling drills during the season …
I’ve been a part of both philosophies. I’ve been on teams where you do live tackling from time to time throughout the course of the season. You may go live on the goal line. You just switch it up depending on what you want to get done.

On the purpose of the tackling drill …
We do fundamentals every day and each position coach during their individual period works on fundamentals specific to that position. What I really like about the tackling drill is that you can do the straight-ahead tackling drill and that simulates when you’re out there in space. It’s from the sideline to the bottom of the numbers. You have 12 yards to work. The running back has all of that space with the receiver, so there’s a lot of different things that you have to do as a defender when you’re playing a player in space that’s different than if you were inside the box with a bunch of other players.

I like it, too, from the offensive perspective because you get to work on your running skills. Does he have leverage on me? If he does, I want to freeze his feet and run away. If he has just slight leverage, can I get him back to head-up so I have a two-way go. As I break, can I incorporate the stiff arm? Both sides of the ball really benefit from doing that. You can incorporate an angle tackle if you’re a safety or linebacker and you’re coming over on an outside run, using the sideline to simulate that type of action. It’s all stuff that comes up every week. It’s just one of my favorite drills in terms of getting that work done. 

On RB Thomas Jones …
Thomas is always going to do what gives the team the best chance to win, like the whole group is going to do whatever gives the team the best chance to win. You always want your running game to be as successful as possible and have the highest yards per carry. The same thing defensively. It doesn’t come down to just Thomas. It comes down to the whole group blocking it up better, making sure we have the best possible runs, understanding where the fits are and the quarterback/running back mesh. It’s collective. 

On if the running game has made any progress since the beginning of the season …
In certain areas there’s definitely progress and in other areas there are things we’ve got to continue to work on. What’s so important offensively and defensively is to build on progress. You don’t want to have a successful run and then the next week it’s not as successful. You want to be able to build on the runs that are positive as well as continue to incorporate game-plan-type runs or runs that you think over time are going to continue to be a good weapon for the offense. 

On if there will be tackling drills in today’s practice …
It will change week in and week out. We do have it again today and it will be there throughout the course of the season. On the schedule, there’s a bunch of different things we do. Some are more team-oriented. You can do the tackling drill defense against defense, it’s just when Sione [Pouha] is running with the ball against Shaun [Ellis], it’s not the same look. He’s got some jukes, but you want Shaun to have to deal with a running back or someone he may have to deal with. 

On S Erik Coleman returning to practice …
He’s moving right along in terms of the program we have in place for him. That was another step in the process. We’ll continue to evaluate him. He will visit with the doctors and the trainers and we will get updates. It’s the same with all the injured guys and then you move them to the next step.

On S Eric Smith’s performance vs. the Giants …
I thought he did well. He made a couple plays early. The play on the 7-route to [Jeremy] Shockey, I thought, was a nice play with him coming in and breaking it up early in the game. He made a nice recovery play on the deep route to [Plaxico] Burress that he and Darrelle [Revis] had. He was a little fooled on the run action initially but recovered well there. Overall I was pleased. He also has a substantial role on special teams, so he was wearing a lot of different hats. It was in line with how he had been practicing during training camp. It gets a little bit better. Similar, though, to guys that are getting more playing time, there are some things that you learn through experience.

On Eagles punter Sav Rocca …
I wasn’t familiar with Sav’s work. I’m a big fan of the transition over here and the Australian athletes. They are outstanding athletes and there’s a lot of carryover. There are other positions there that could translate to our game. We just have to sell it to them a little bit. They don’t understand why you need to wear pads. 

On Rocca’s punting style …
He has that ability to do the same things that Ben [Graham] does with the way they can place the ball. In Australian Rules, you pass the ball through kicking it. Their ability to target it in certain spots is pretty impressive. After you get a mark in Australian Rules Football, you have the freedom to step back and kick it, which is a little bit different than here.

They’re coming, so you have to get it off quickly with the handling time. There are some things that you just have to adjust to. It’s pretty different, but the leg strength he has is like Ben’s. Some kicks just explode off his foot. 

On RB Leon Washington …
He makes some plays. Sometimes it’s getting the play going. The Miami screen last year, that was a great example. It wasn’t like we had blocked it up very well. He made about six people miss. There was some nice blocking down the field and you look at it and say, “Well, what a well-executed and well-blocked play.” He just made the blocking look a lot better on that play. He’s a guy that when he does get into space and get going, he has the opportunity to turn a 2-yard run into a substantially greater run. He’s working greater at it, too. We are trying different things with him.

On whether defenses are putting more of a focus on stopping Washington …
It’s a different approach each time. Whenever you have that success and you do have the ability to be explosive with the ball in your hands, they may pay more attention to that player, as opposed to if the guy is just starting to play, you don’t know much about him, sometimes those guys get lost in the mix. Like Wayne [Chrebet], when he first started, nobody double-covered him. And 10 catches, 12 catches, then you figure out this guy’s pretty good. 

On whether the team’s approach needs to be more animated …
It’s one game at a time, but it’s the same level of intensity, the same level of focus. This is a very intense group and very focused group. I’ve always said I like the way they work and the way they approach things. I don’t think that’s any different. Talking to Teddy [Atlas] the other day, I’d read in Cus D’Amato’s book where Cus said anger and emotion are like fire: It can either cook your food or burn your house down. It just depends on how you want to use it. You just need to be able to focus that, channel that and put it toward positive things.

On the lack of sacks …
The season’s young and there are a lot of games to be played and sometimes you have a 12-sack game and it skews averages. You have to look at it over time. How does it play out? What does your blitz package look like? Do you like what you’re doing from a rushing perspective? You can’t get caught up with a statistic, you have to get caught up with the process. When you improve the process, the statistics come. A constant focus is to improve it. 

On LB Bryan Thomas …
He’s doing what we’re asking him to do. Sometimes those opportunities are there and sometimes they aren’t there. You can’t really design a defense specifically for Bryan Thomas to get sacks, Shaun Ellis to get sacks or anybody else to get a certain statistic. It’s about playing good, sound team defense, being in the spots where you’re supposed to be in, and that’s what you want everybody to do. When you do that, those things naturally come as part of it.

On why Brad Smith hasn’t thrown a pass …
We’ve had multiple times where he’s been under center and he’s had a run/pass check. It just hasn’t really played out yet. Most of the time when he’s under, he has an option one way or the other, and he makes a decision just like you give any of the quarterbacks. He hasn’t gotten the look that we wanted to trigger the pass element. 

On whether he agrees with Smith’s decision-making under center …
Yeah. You give him certain keys: If it’s this, do this, and if it’s that, do that. You want him to make the right decision at those points.

On whether defenses are expecting Smith to pass …
It’s just what kind of look you’re getting and sometimes you check to a master-type check. Cover-2 is a good example of that where you can pretty much handle a lot of stuff that’s going on and it’s pretty easy to adjust, as opposed to an eight-man-type box. It could be coverage-based or it could be front-based. It’s different each time. 

On Smith’s receiving skills …
He’s doing a really outstanding job with that. As he gets more comfortable running the routes, running the route adjustments, understanding the proper depths, getting a feel for the different ways the defensive backs are going to play him at the line of scrimmage. A smaller guy versus a bigger guy, when he’s in the slot versus outside, he will process that and build on that. You start seeing more and more production as we move on with not just the coaching but also the experience. 

On if Smith has replaced Justin McCareins as the No. 3 WR …
The numbers have been pretty consistent with the different players, and we have different groups for various guys. You can get a group with Justin and Leon [Washington], or it could be that group in with Justin and Thomas [Jones], based on which one we want in. The same thing with Brad. You can put Brad with Leon or Brad with Thomas. There are a couple different combinations that you can get there. 

On McCareins catching fewer passes since the Baltimore game …
It’s like anything else. It’s the read. Sometimes it just works out where you get the coverage where you’re the primary receiver and you get more balls. You see throughout the course of the week that one receiver has 10 balls, the other guy has two. The next week, it skews back the other way and then the slot receiver is the guy or the tight end. You’re always trying to go through the process of reading the defense and getting it to where the open guy is. 

On teams having success when they wear throwback jerseys …
I hadn’t really thought that through. If that was the answer, it would be hard to figure out what team was playing what team on Sunday because everybody would have a throwback or a future uniform. I’m looking for better fits in the running game, better fits in the passing game and consistency. The uniforms, I love it, it’s a great way to honor a very important part of our history, but I don’t know if that’s necessarily going to be the catalyst. 

On Smith’s preparation …
Brad seems to do most things effortlessly, so you have to get that from him in terms of what he finds the most challenging.  What I do like and what I think helps him is understanding the big picture. When you understand how the quarterback is looking at things, it helps you because now you see the big picture of the offense and how each piece fits in, how each route is designed for a specific coverage. You get a real sense of the whole attack and how you’re going to be attacked.

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