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Mangini set to become next Jets coach

Eric Mangini started his NFL career in the public relations department for the Cleveland Browns.

NEW YORK (Jan. 17, 2006) -- Eric Mangini started his NFL career in the public relations department for the Cleveland Browns.

Now he is making the headlines.

The New England Patriots defensive coordinator and top disciple to Bill Belichick has accepted an offer to become the next New York Jets coach, a person familiar with the situation said.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no official announcement had been made by the team.

Mangini, who turns 35 on Thursday, becomes the youngest head coach in the league. He replaces Herman Edwards, who left for Kansas City after five seasons.

A Jets spokesman said the club had no announcements to make and declined further comment.

"We haven't heard anything," New England Patriots spokesman Stacey James said.

A few hours after praising Vikings coach Mike Tice for his interview, general manager Terry Bradway, assistant GM Mike Tannenbaum and owner Woody Johnson moved quickly to hire Mangini.

He emerged as the leading candidate for the Jets last week. Though he is young and has been a coordinator for one season, he is regarded as one of the brightest defensive minds in the game after spending 10 of his 11 seasons in the NFL working under Belichick.

The Jets hope some of the Belichick genius rubbed off on his protege.

"He definitely has the ability to be a great coach in this league," Patriots defensive end Richard Seymour said after the Patriots were eliminated from the playoffs. "He has a lot of tools that it takes. He's very poised. He's a smart guy. He understands defenses and how to take things away from offenses, so he'll probably have a lot of success in this league."

Mangini also has close ties to Tannenbaum and was an assistant with the Jets from 1997-99, working with Belichick in the secondary. Belichick has talked Mangini out of taking coordinator jobs in the past, but was unable to do the same this time.

In a strange twist, Belichick was Jets head coach for one day before changing his mind and bolting for New England in 2000. That connection didn't seem to bother New York and Johnson, who is desperate to gain on the Patriots in the AFC East.

With Mangini in, defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson, offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger and special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff would probably be out. All three interviewed for the head coaching job.

The Jets also spoke to three other candidates: former Saints coach Jim Haslett, former Rams interim coach Joe Vitt and Giants defensive coordinator Tim Lewis.

Edwards parted ways with the Jets in a messy split. Speculation for the better part of the season linked him to the Chiefs. Though Johnson told the team in November he wanted Edwards to stay, he made few comments publicly to squelch the rampant speculation the Chiefs wanted his coach.

The idea that Edwards would ask for an extension after going 4-12 may have rubbed some in the organization the wrong way, leaving them no choice but to let Edwards go. After several days of negotiating, the Jets received a fourth-round pick as compensation for Edwards from the Chiefs.

Mangini inherits a team that has its share of questions. That is the big reason why Edwards wanted an extension, because he anticipated it might take a few years to rebuild the team.

Quarterback Chad Pennington is coming off his second major shoulder injury. Though he vowed to be ready for the start of training camp, the Jets plan to bring in a veteran to compete for the starting job.

Another major question is whether veteran running back Curtis Martin will return.

Edwards planned to have Martin back, but Mangini might have different thoughts. The 32-year-old back is coming off knee surgery and might not be viable as a starter anymore. The Jets also need help at offensive line and receiver.

The defense should be the strength of the team, and could be even better with Mangini at the helm. But the Jets must make a decision on whether to put the franchise tag on defensive end John Abraham or sign him to a long-term contract.

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