Coach Belichick didn't put much emphasis on the first face-off between he and former Patriots defensive coordinator turned Jets head coach Eric Mangini in his press conference on Wednesday.
Asked about Mangini's strengths as a coach and what he may have brought from New England to the Jets, Belichick responded, "He worked hard. He had a lot of different responsibilities. He started back in Cleveland, really with no responsibility at all, and worked his way up to a coordinating position. That's a lot of steps along the way. I'm sure there's similarities to every system. There's some things that maybe are similar to the way we do them, but I'm not really worried about that. I'm worried about how we match up against them and how we're going to compete against them. I don't think they're trying to replicate anything down there."
"I know Eric (Mangini) and Bill (Belichick) are too big and too old to go out and play, so players are going to have to go out there and make the plays," said linebacker Mike Vrabel, getting to the point of the team's preparation.
Some people may be worried the former Pats coordinator will be able to provide the Jets with valuable information on how the Patriots like to run certain plays. LinebackerRosevelt Colvin isn't one of those people.
"There's a lot of people that had the playbook," said Colvin. "Bill just didn't start coaching five years ago, he's been in the league 30-some-odd years. A lot of people know what we've done or what we do. It's up to us to go out and execute and try to do the things that we feel like we need to do to get the job done."
The focus, it seems, is to improve on last week's Bills game in all departments. Belichick said he thinks that starts with coaching and continues down through the players, and Tom Brady voiced similar feelings on the need for his own improvement, admitting that Deion Branch's holdout occupied too much of his thoughts.
"Last week I spent a lot of energy thinking about it and, looking at the end of the week it really wasted a lot of my time and energy. It was a big mental drain, and I feel like it affected the way that I played. I just didn't feel like I brought as much to the table as I normally could. That's why I'm excited about this week. Hey, I learned a good lesson and I'm going to go out there and try to do the very best I can do."
With Branch signed to the Seahawks, players like Vrabel and Colvin explained that the Patriots need to move on in preparation for the Jets.
Both teams will enter the game with 1-0 records, so the team that wins this game will be leading the AFC East going into Week 3.
In Week 1 the Jets offense recorded an AFC leading 393 total yards in addition to an AFC leading 24 first downs. Powering the Jets offensive performance was Chad Pennington's NFL best 319 passing yards. Pennington is returning from a second shoulder surgery in two years.
"He played well," said Belichick of Pennington. "He had over 300 yards passing. He had some big plays. He didn't really have any bad throws, took care of the ball. They've moved the ball efficiently. He looked good in preseason. The Jets have looked good in preseason. Period. He's part of that. He's got a good receiving corps, good offensive line, tight ends, backs run hard. They've got a good offensive unit. They were productive."
Cornerback Ellis Hobbs agreed with Belichick. "They got a great corps of receivers," he said.
Jets wideoutLaveranues Coles led the NFL last week with 153 receiving yards. In the Bills game, Hobbs spent a lot of time assigned to Lee Evans, limiting him to two catches for 25 yards. It's likely that Hobbs will go against Coles in the Jets game, though he refused to comment on the game plan.
"He has a great burst down the field and can go the distance," said Hobbs of Coles. "He has great hands and great ability after the catch too. He's a threat with and without the ball. He just works hard all the time. I'm looking at him on film and his motor never stops – always trying to block and just do the little extra things."
With former Patriot Curtis Martin starting the season on the Jets PUP list, their running game only contributed 91 yards to the 393-yard total last week, but the Patriots aren't overlooking that aspect of the game.
"They're all tough," said Belichick of the running backs. "They all have pretty good size, (Derrick) Blaylock and(Kevan) Barlow and (Cedric) Houston. (Rashad) Washington is a little bit smaller, but he's strong for his size. He really has pretty good playing strength even though he is kind of a Kevin Faulk size-ish kind of guy, but he's a strong player. He runs hard."
With an overhauled system and a new coaching staff, the Jets are hoping to make a playoff run for the first time since the 2004 season.
"I think last year was a false image of what was going on over there in New York," said Hobbs, indicating the level of seriousness with which the team is treating the upcoming game. "They were just in some bad situations – all their quarterbacks being down. The offensive line was kind of beat up. Now that they're back to full-force again – they've got a great coach in Eric (Mangini) – they're going in the right direction."
"It isn't about Eric (Mangini), it isn't about Bill (Belichick), it's about the Jets and the Patriots and that's all it's about," said Mangini in a conference call with the New England media Wednesday. "I think Bill is a great friend and will be for a long time. That's completely the way that I view things in that area."
Bam out, Smith in … again
The Patriots released Bam Childress for the second time this year. Childress was released by the Patriots on Sept. 3, 2006 and was signed to the Patriots practice squad the following day. He was signed to the team's active roster on Sept. 9, 2006, and played in the Patriots' 2006 season-opener against Buffalo, but did not record any statistics. Jonathan Smith was signed to the team for the second time this season. He was with the Bills during the preseason, recording six passes for 48 yards and six punt returns for 29 yards. Smith was claimed off of waivers by the Patriots on Sept. 3, 2006 and was released by the Patriots on Sept. 9, 2006.
Quote of Note:"It's tough because you develop relationships with players. Coaches don't have [the same kind of] relationships with players and the management doesn't know what guys are like. In that sense, it's probably tougher for players to see players go because we hang out. We're buddies. It goes far beyond the football field. ... I have to focus on playing quarterback now and that just means I have to play that much better and I'm fully prepared to do that. I'm going to do my best to help this team win and I support our team and our organization just as I support players and their decisions. I wish it could have worked out but this time it didn't." – Brady on moving forward in the wake of the Branch holdout.
Tedy Bruschi, Nick Kaczur, Chad Jackson and Doug Gabriel were all present and active during the portion of practice available to the media today. Not seen on the field were rookie Garrett Mills and Richard Seymour. Brady was seen wearing a knee brace during drills, and is on the injury report as having a right shoulder injury. Bruschi, Jackson, Kaczur and Mills were all listed as questionable, with Mills suffering from the Flu. Brady and Gabriel were all listed as probable, with all of the above but Brady missing at least a portion of practice.