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Mangini sticking with Pennington despite 1-5 start

The New York Jets are frustrated and searching for answers. Still, a day after falling to 1-5 for the first time since 1999, they insist they're not giving up on the season -- or their starting quarterback.

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- The New York Jets are frustrated and searching for answers.

Still, a day after falling to 1-5 for the first time since 1999, they insist they're not giving up on the season -- or their starting quarterback.

"The only change we need is a win," wide receiver Laveranues Coles said Monday. "You get a win and everything else goes away. If we win, we wouldn't be talking about change, so right now the main thing is trying to find a way to get a win."

Many fans and members of the media believe the best way for the Jets to pick up that next victory is with Kellen Clemens as the quarterback. Some have suggested New York is considering that change by entertaining offers for Pennington before the trade deadline Tuesday.

"That's ludicrous," coach Eric Mangini said bluntly.

Pennington's mistakes have cost the Jets. He has thrown six interceptions in the last three games, including two that sealed losses. In the Jets' 16-9 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday, Pennington was just 11-of-21 for 128 yards and couldn't get them into the end zone.

Last week, Pennington said he couldn't try to be a superhero.

Right now, the Jets just need him to be efficient.

"There's a lot of different areas that need to get better: interceptions, tackling, run fits, all those things, coaching, strategy," Mangini said. "All those things need to improve and we're all in this together. It's not a one-person issue."

Mangini reiterated that Pennington is the starting quarterback, but the idea of putting Clemens behind center is intriguing because he offers things the eight-year veteran doesn't: a strong arm and the ability to stretch the field. The Jets got a sneak peek at what the second-year QB can do in Week 2, when he started for an injured Pennington and nearly led New York to a fourth-quarter comeback at Baltimore.

Asked about critics who think he should start, Clemens was the diplomat.

"Everything is about the team winning a game," he said. "Whatever is going on outside the walls of this locker room, we're not really too concerned about."

The players stand by Pennington and haven't wavered in their confidence.

"He's our leader," wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. "He's the leader of this team, not only on offense. One guy isn't going to create a spark because each individual has to create that spark within himself to help this team out."

Cotchery added that he and his teammates haven't discussed the possibility of a quarterback change.

"I think that's kind of a sensitive topic because everyone loves Chad in this building," he said.

Otherwise, the players are understandably disheartened after the high hopes of a 10-6 first season under Mangini.

"After going through the team meeting with Coach, it's just one of them things where you sense it now that it's there," Coles said of the 1-5 start. "You never have a true feeling of how bad things are until you see the look in your head coach's eyes."

Mangini has tried to maintain an even-keeled approach as he struggles through his first crisis as a head coach. He was again peppered with questions about his play calling in the closing minutes Sunday, when the Jets blew a chance to tie it.

The Jets got the ball down to the Eagles' 4 on Thomas Jones' 9-yard run, but Philadelphia stopped him for no gain on the next play and Pennington got nothing on a quarterback sneak. New York elected to go for it on fourth-and-1 with 3:32 left. Instead of giving it to Jones, who ran for 130 yards, Mangini called for a fade route into the end zone, where Sheldon Brown got his hand between the ball and Coles.

The Jets never got the ball back, but Mangini had no regrets Monday.

"It wasn't a function of 1 yard or not 1 yard," Mangini said. "That was a play that we had in a critical situation, in a got-to-have-it situation. It was something we practiced. I can tell you the success rate of that play over time has been extremely high."

The Jets now need to draw on some more history if they hope to turn things around. They started the '99 season 1-6 under Bill Parcells before finishing 8-8 and falling a few wins short of making the playoffs. For now, they'll settle for a victory Sunday at Cincinnati.

"It would be refreshing, man," Cotchery said. "It would be something that we really need, to be honest. To get that result that we've been trying to get for a while now, it would be huge."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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