New York Jets head coach Eric Mangini addresses the New England media during his conference call on Tuesday, November 11, 2008.
Q: How do you think the two teams have changed since week two?
EM: I think the one thing that stayed consistent with both teams is that you see the same game plan specific approach game in and game out. The things that New England has shown against other teams are not necessarily going to be what we get. It is going to be what we get, it is going to be what's given the best chance to win on that Sunday and we try to take that same approach here. I think that we have made some progress both offensively and defensively and I think New England has done the same thing. I really like the way that Matt [Cassel] is playing right now. You can see how comfortable he is in that role. One thing that hasn't changed is the explosive playmakers they have, all their skill guys being able to generate things offensively, defensively how stout their front seven is and [how] disciplined they are and then you add in really, really good special teams - it is a challenge just like it was a challenge that week.
Q: How much more comfortable is Brett Favre in your system now than he was in week two?
EM: I think each week that he is able to work with the receivers and is able to work within the offense he gets a little more comfortable. But, it will continue to be a work in progress. The more reps that we all play together I think the more progress he'll make.
Q: You have been able to force a lot of fumbles on sacks. Is that just a by-product of getting a lot of sacks or are you coaching your guys any certain way when it comes to that?
EM: We do a lot of work in that area and that is something that I learned when I was first with the Jets. We spent a lot of time on what's called ball disruption. I know Pepper [Johnson] does it up there. We have focused on individual players and you look at different areas that you can exploit maybe the way they hold the ball, maybe if it is a quarterback where he holds the ball, scramble patterns, things like that and giving the guys the awareness of if you do get an opportunity to get a sack or if you are the second guy in a pile where you should pressure the ball, what would be the most vulnerable point.
Q: I am guessing you have been pretty satisfied with how they have carried that out this season?
EM: I was really happy last game because of the types of fumbles we were able to generate where guys went in and really ripped the ball out as opposed to sometimes those fumbles are a function of how you hit the player as opposed to a conscience effort of finding the ball and getting it out. I like the two examples that we had of finding it and getting it out.
Q: Where do things stand with Ty Law? Is that is official at this point and what you are hoping he brings to your team?
EM: With my experience with Ty [Law] spending five years with him, coaching him everyday the one thing I like about making this move is the versatility that he gives us. He's played inside at the start position some, he has played outside both left and right, he has worked a little bit at safety, he has a lot of experience playing and a lot of experience playing in this system. I think what he does for us is adds some versatility as to where we can place some of the other players and he gives us some good depth there as well.
Q: Just to follow, up he had mentioned to NFL Network that he expects to play in this game, is that realistic?
EM: I think we will have to see how it goes but I would say there is definitely a shot.
Q: All the things you have mentioned about Ty [Law] - you would have known in August, July and September so why now with the move?
EM: Well, this is really the first opportunity we had to get something done. I talked to Ty at different times throughout the course of the season but this is the first time we really had the chance to do something so we did.
Q: Did you sense as that process was coming to a close on Monday that it was Jets vs. Patriots coming down to the wire for two procure Ty's services?
EM: I am not really sure what their interest was or if there was any interest. I was really approaching from our perspective.
Q: As the first team to face Matt Cassel twice, what are some of the differences that you have seen now facing him than the first time you played him?
EM: I thought Matt did a really good job the first time we played him. I think he has done a really good job in all the games that he has played. He went from inactivity to transitioning to the biggest role he could possibly have. As he has gained reps and gained game experience I think his comfort level, his efficiency in running the offense have all improved.
Q: How much do you feel your defense has grown since that second game?
EM: There have been a lot of things that I have really liked about what we have been able to do defensively and I am really pleased with the overall execution of the game plan defenses that we have had in place. Now there are still a lot of things that we need to improve but that is a consistent point of emphasis for us. The amount of sacks that we have been able to generate that is just not a function of the defensive line, that is the coverage improving and the coordination of the blitzes when they do come or the three man, four man rushes, then also the ability to turn the ball over which is crucial because the turnover ratio is the biggest stat in football.
Q: What has Kris Jenkins meant for you and that defense?
EM: Kris has done an excellent job. He is a big man. He is physical. What has been outstanding is his commitment to playing the technique and never having any exposure to a 3-4 defense, whether it be in college or pro-football, sometimes that transition takes a little bit more time but he has worked at it. He has really tried to understand how the blocking schemes are going to work and I think he has done a good job with that. I think he also has very good finish for a guy his size and that is one of the things that stood out when I watched him on the tape when we were initially looking at him.
Q: Have you noticed anything from the Patriots defense in terms of them doing more this year with different packages on a week-to-week basis or has that been the norm for them in the time that you have game planned against them?
EM: It has been the norm for all the years that I worked with Bill [Belichick] whether it be here with the Jets for three years or New England for six years, it is game plan specific. It is identifying strengths and taking those away, it is identifying weaknesses and exploiting them and it is also playing to your team's strengths, so it's got to be sound and very specific rules on how to adjust it. They are not going to make very many mistakes.
Q: Have you been pleased with the play of your secondary thus far?
EM: I think that we have done a lot of good things in the secondary and it is it is a young group. Darrelle Revis is a second year player, Dwight Lowry is a rookie who is starting - Darrelle started last year and Dwight started this year. Kerry [Rhodes] even though he signed an extension is pretty young in his career. Abram Elam who is filling in for Eric Smith and even Eric Smith is a third year player. Abram got to start some games last year and started some games this year so there is quite a bit of youth in that secondary and that is balanced off with Hank [Poteat] who you are familiar with, David Barrett - players like that who bring more experience.
Q: You mentioned before about Ty Law having flexibility, is he a guy that can play safety at this stage in his career?
EM: I have seen that transition take place quite a few times and I have seen it with older guys. We did it with Artrelle Hawkins but I've also seen it with younger guys, a guy like Eugene [Wilson] who had never played safety and stepped right in on opening day [inaudible] that's a possibility at all.
Q: Eric just a follow up about your secondary. Do you feel that unit and its tackling have improved from week two of the season to today?
EM: Tackling is another basic skill set that we try to continue to work on. You tend to put a lot of emphasis on that during training camp and it's pretty easy to get away from it during the course of the season. We go back to it on a weekly basis and reemphasize it, do specific drills to improve it but it's not just a drill for the secondary, it's a drill for the whole defense. It also helps the offensive skill players because it forces them to work on their running with different angles of attack.
Q: How do you feel the secondary specifically has improved in that area?
EM: There haven't been a significant amount of missed tackles over the course of the season. I think we're better tackling this year then we were at this time last year and it's been a conscious effort on everybody's part to improve that. In terms of specifically that time period I don't have the numbers of tackles versus missed tackles.
Q: One final non-football question. I was wondering how the newest addition to your family is doing?
EM: He's doing great. He's very much like our first baby. Jake was mild mannered and then we had Luke who was a little more vocal and still is and Zack seems to be more along Jake's line. It's a great mix and the older brothers are getting used to it. Jakes had experience with it. Luke is transitioning to having a new addition to the roster. He's getting used to it. [He's] not always happy about it but he's getting used to it and thankfully he's healthy and mom's healthy.